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PA V2 vs. V3 discussion, with skeuomorphic skin design ideas


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13 hours ago, andrewilley said:

But as for a new 'build 590' of the legacy Poweramp v2 product, or further changes to the interim alpha-test build 790, that's never going to happen. They are what they are - a snapshot in history - and if they still work for you then you are welcome to use them, but they will never have any new features added.

So Max didn't make a backup of v2 before making an entirely new UI for v3?  If that's the case, he might regret that decision in the future.

@flyingdutchman I tried YAPS free, most of the graphics displayed in the screenshots aren't available to try, and I was underwhelmed with the choices available.  I'm sorry about my comment earlier, regarding YAPS being unacceptable, that wasn't a stab at you or your work.  Obviously you've put a lot of effort into it, I only meant it doesn't offer what I'm looking for in a UI.

Notice in the main UI screenshot below, besides the HQ textures, the artist/album/track labels don't obscure the album art, only the repeat/shuffle/Eq/Tone buttons occupy that space, and they're small enough to have a minimal impact on the album art/visualization, plus there's no opaque/translucent background for the repeat/shuffle/etc. buttons to obscure or muddy the art/visualization space.  Putting the track details over the album art makes it look messy, making the text translucent makes it difficult to read, and visibility is worse if the visualization is active.  So any text in the album art/visualization space is bad design.  Also, having a dedicated, uniform space to display track data is cleaner and more concise than having an individual background for each label; the artist - album label is incomplete in the screenshot because it slowly scrolls when the text is longer than the space provided.

Only thing I wish this v2 skin did was show a touched button being depressed, but it only highlights with a blue circle.

 

 

Capture+_2020-06-29-15-52-13.png

Capture+_2020-06-29-15-51-03.png

Edited by DevilSlayerDante
hi-res screenshots
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First of all, Yaps is a free version which, when published was a "reduced" version of $YAPS$. It is meant to show some of the capabilities/functionality of the paid version. Since its pubication, a lot more development has gone into $YAPS$ so this is now even more advanced.

As for the graphics (buttons and sliders), I can try and recreate them unless there is someone out there who can supply them. You will find I have a number of choices for play buttons and equaliser knobs.

Track, album/artist text is below the albumart. In fact the reason I decided to try and create my own skin was exactly because of them on top of albumart. In addition, most artifacts can be hidden in my skins. Repeat, shuffle etc sit below the albumart but can be hidden.

Over 100 colours (including opaques )are available to set as background but not just for these buttons, you can set background colours on other artifacts .

Furthermore, a number of other items are available, seekbar, waveseek, volume slider, fonts, fine tuning of sizes etc etc. too much to list

The basic sliding  behaviours are imho a vast improvement on the older version. 

The new hide "visualsation panel" option  will be available in the new release.

To get an idea of options available, have a look here

http://www.theo.klinkweb.nl/poweramp_skin.html

 

ps as it evolves all the time, the menu options  may have changed

 

 

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10 hours ago, DevilSlayerDante said:

So Max didn't make a backup of v2 before making an entirely new UI for v3?  If that's the case, he might regret that decision in the future.

[...]

Putting the track details over the album art makes it look messy [...]  album label is incomplete in the screenshot because it slowly scrolls when the text is longer than the space provided.

Only thing I wish this v2 skin did was show a touched button being depressed, but it only highlights with a blue circle.

1) I'm sure Max has got backups archived away somewhere of many of his older releases, but you can't just selectively merge four years' worth of incremental coding (including changes to support more modern Android library versions so it works on newer devices) into an obsolete codebase. And even if it was possible, it would be an enormous amount of work and it won't happen. Sorry, but I'm afraid there's no point in even discussing it, you need to consider v2 (and that includes alpha build 709) as archived and frozen in time, and either use it as-in or move on. Any further discussion needs to focus on whether v3 can be made to look more like you personally want it to, as that is the only current product in development.

2) Back in the early test versions of v3, a number of people (me included) said they would prefer the Title/Artist/Album wording to be located beneath the artwork rather than overlaid, so Max responded by adding Settings > Look and Feel > Skin > Alternative Layout, which does exactly that. And more recently - about 6-12 months ago from memory - he responded to another request that you mentioned by adding a scrolling feature for longer text (Settings > Look and Feel > Player UI > Animate Long Labels). And there is a lot of flexibility to tweak even in the default skins if you just bother to look through the menus; PA is already one of the most configurable music players available, before you even start to look into other skins which let you go even further. For example (apart from the buttons being flat) this is much closer to the old v2 layout, and you could make the background plainer, or even black if you prefer:

image.png

3) in my view, the v2 skin you used as an example (especially the EQ sliders) looks horrible and I wouldn't have chosen it even back then, but each to their own of course.

Andre

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I wish I could post this somewhere else, I hate to keep getting away from the initial topic of this thread, but without the context of previous posts it would lose a lot of its meaning.

On 6/30/2020 at 5:55 AM, andrewilley said:

And more recently - about 6-12 months ago from memory - he responded to another request that you mentioned by adding a scrolling feature for longer text (Settings > Look and Feel > Player UI > Animate Long Labels).

That wasn't me who suggested a scrolling marquee for long labels.  But why did he have to add it if it was already available in v2?

On 6/30/2020 at 5:55 AM, andrewilley said:

For example (apart from the buttons being flat) this is much closer to the old v2 layout, and you could make the background plainer, or even black if you prefer:

image.png

OK, I'm not trying to be argumentative here, I just feel like the depth of detail I'm trying to convey isn't being fully comprehended.

First off, that screen is noticeably taller than mine; my viewable space is 2.5625" x 4.625", 5.3" diagonal.  Second, I like textures, not solid matte colors, alpha-blended flat icon backgrounds, or thin outlines.  Pay close attention to the background in my example, it's not a solid color, it looks like a very dark grey brushed metal, and all the buttons and dials have very soft shadows that add more depth, and a thick, dark outline that looks like the very narrow cut-to-fit hole in the face plate that the button or dial would protrude through.  I want my Poweramp to resemble a home theatre receiver like this (I have no idea why skin designers call this "retro", these photos are for receivers that can be bought today).  I saw the 3D graphics you mentioned in $YAPS$ in a previous post, but without shadows and an appropriate background texture to complement the foreground, they look dull and/or out of place.  Furthermore, I see no resemblance to the old v2 layout in the screenshot you provided.

READ CAREFULLY:

Several details that I want to change are the main buttons at the bottom and the visualization/sleep timer/repeat/shuffle buttons.  I always touched the track/artist/album text to open my library, so I can get rid of the library button at the bottom.  Next, I have no use for the search button, so I can get rid of that, too; and I have no use for the sleep timer, ditch that button.  Move the visualization button to the bottom bar, that leaves 3 buttons on the bottom bar and repeat and shuffle above the playback buttons.  Move repeat and shuffle to the bottom left and right corners of the album art space, no background or outline on those buttons, they're quite visible and still don't obscure the album art.  Now there's more room to make the track text and playback buttons bigger, making it easier to read and hit the playback buttons at a glance when I'm driving with my phone on my dash.  Better yet, move the [] button to the top left of the album art (it could even double as the library button that takes you to the top of the library menu with the artist, album, year, genre, etc. categories), make the EQ/Tone and Visualization buttons one button and move it to the top right of the album art, still no outlines or backgrounds on either so they don't clutter up the album art, and we can get rid of the menu bar at the bottom (or top depending on the skin) altogether, freeing up even more space.  Now the main UI is free of unnecessary buttons, clean, and optimized so the things I need to see and access the most have maximum visibility and minimum margin of error, e.g. accidentally tapping [] or [] instead of [▶️].  I have little to no need to change the EQ or visualization settings once I have them set the the way I like them, repeat and shuffle won't change often, but if I want to change them, they're just a touch away.  With all the changes I described here, the app would essentially be back to the v2/v3- layout, and this is why v3 bothers me so much, not just the flat, material design, including the mass majority of skins currently available that also use the same, ugly design philosophy, but all the wasted space on buttons I have no use for, they could be further reduced to other screens.  It's inefficient and poorly arranged from the point of view of pure practicality.  I want it to be optimized for my needs, and upto build 709, the UI was perfectly arranged and optimized, after that it just got messy.  So is it possible for a skin to make all those changes?

I realize I probably sound like I'm making a big deal out of nothing, I'm just meticulous, I organize everything on my phone like this, everything has a purpose and a place or it stays in the app drawer.  The things I use the most go on my home screen, each page is bi-symmetrical, no more than 9 items to a page, and grouped in categories:

  • page 1 - quick toggle widgets for GPS, WiFi, sound, Bluetooth, brightness, and sync
  • page 2 - app manager, password manager, NAS file explorer, file manager, Google Drive, VPN service, terminal emulator, text editor, and all-in-one system manager
  • page 3 (home page) - weather forecast widget (takes 2/3 of the page), maps, speedometer, and shortcut to navigation
  • page 4 - folders for games, shopping, and financial, plus Facebook, Discord, Play Store, unit converter, and shortcut to Google dictionary
  • page 5 - full page Poweramp widget (that's right, one page devoted entirely to Poweramp)
  • app dock - dialer, browser, contacts, SMS, messenger, photo gallery, camera, scientific calc., hangouts, and calendar (I can swipe left on my dock to reveal more shortcuts, upto 5 apps/shortcuts per dock page)
  • swipe down opens notification panel so I don't have to stretch my thumb all the way to the top of the screen
  • swipe up shows HTC Sense style home screen preview to quickly access a specific page of my home screen
  • swipe up from app dock opens app drawer

See, my entire home screen/launcher is designed to get me to the things I use the most with as little effort as necessary, and Poweramp is just as fully featured as my launcher, but I can't keep my most used features up front while tucking the things I use very little, or not at all, out of the way.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm an INTP.

On 6/30/2020 at 5:55 AM, andrewilley said:

3) in my view, the v2 skin you used as an example (especially the EQ sliders) looks horrible and I wouldn't have chosen it even back then, but each to their own of course.

This statement confuses me.  You say you prefer skeuomorphism, interfaces with realistic 3D graphics, but you don't like the skin in my screenshots, because that skin is the epitome of skeuomorphism, that's exactly what modern hi-fi audio equipment looks like...although not the "LCD" display so much, referring to the background for the track info and the EQ curve.  I don't mind if you dislike it, it's just that what you said contradicts an earlier statement you made.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of v3-b874, v3-alpha-b709, and v2-b588.

pwramp_cmp.thumb.jpg.aec5d6c44086a54a06226b6694dc3a0f.jpg

In 874, the album art is significantly smaller because of the menu bar at the bottom and the toggle buttons just above the playback buttons.  Also, the toggles and playback buttons are smaller than previous versions, and the text background is dynamic, so the contrast may suffer depending on the album art colors generating the background blur.  Overall, there's more wasted space in v3, on either side of the album art and playback buttons, and the gap in the middle of the toggle buttons.  The playback buttons are also squeezed together more tightly making it more likely to accidentally touch the wrong button or a button touch to not register.  As for 709, I'm not a fan of the 3 buttons in the top right corner, or the fact that you can't see the extents of the playback buttons well, though the playback icons are plenty visible, but the VU button isn't a toggle like in 874, it opens a panel from the right side showing the mini EQ curve and visualization options, so when I selected the preset, the VU mode (off, normal, fade controls, or full screen), and I'd put the drawer away, no VU title obscuring the visualization (which is how this thread started in the first place), and I didn't need another toggle button to cycle through the VU modes, it was neatly tucked away when I didn't need it.

So without a drawer to keep the mini-EQ curve and VU options, I figure there could be another page in the EQ/Tone/Effects screen.

I don't know how many hours it took me to put this post together...more than 5 for sure.  Like I said, meticulous, but I go on tangents a lot and lose track of what I'm doing easily.

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Actually the bottom bar is one area I've never especially liked, particularly for people still stuck using smaller screens. The need for two Menu buttons also jarred, the 'system menu' vs. 'overflow list' of Android's Material Design concept never sat well with me, still doesn't. Max has plans to make several of the icon controls under the artwork area user-configurable, but not sure if that will go far enough to allow the lower bar to be hidden for general use.

If you want to make the artwork bigger on a very small screen, don't use Alternative Layout.

The reason the main control buttons are now a bit smaller and have more space around them is that's where you are meant to be able to swipe your finger over the waveseek bar (PA v3's main navigation method) but you have hidden it, thus creating the extra blank space. It's skinnable anyway.

I'll separate these out into a separate thread as you suggest, as you're right that it's way off topic and the original request has been adopted by @flyingdutchman's skin anyway. I will move this into the Skins subforum, as most of what is being discussed really comes down to skinning suggestions, as I'm afraid the base product is never going to look like you want it to. 
 

"READ CAREFULLY:"   Really? In bold and underlined? You do have a rather unique way of trying to gently persuade people round to your personal way of thinking don't you? I suspect many people probably tuned out long before you started itemising your device's Home Screen contents though. I said I liked some skeuomorphic elements by the way (such as buttons with more 'real-world' imagery, and shadows/shading/panel lines - like Windows 7 windows and icon themes), not that I want my phone screen to become a photograph of my hi-fi amplifier, complete with faux brushed-aluminium panel background. What works on a 19-inch rack sized device doesn't necessary work on a tiny phone screen.

Andre

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  • andrewilley changed the title to PA V2 vs. V3 discussion, with skeuomorphic skin design ideas

As andre pointed out, I  admit, i did not read all this. From a developer point of view, I enjoy what I do and yes, it would be nice to have fancy graphics but a) my photoshop skills are limited and b) it does not warrent to purchase icons and graphics given the low cost of the app.

If you have royalty free graphics or can provide graphics with a perpetual license, by all means send them. If i like them i might integrate them

 

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@andrewilley Thank you for moving this to another thread.  I apologize if I come across as combative, it's not intentional, I guess that's just my communicative style.

But yes, bold and underline, it's meant to draw attention, has nothing to do with tone.  Besides, in my experience, people usually skim and miss the finer points I'm trying to make.  I'm not trying to persuade anyone of anything, only trying to get people to understand my perspective, potentially even realize something they weren't aware of, which I am clearly failing at.  The album art thing isn't about wanting bigger album art, that entire paragraph is about efficient use of screen space and maximizing accessibility to what I use the most.  The playback, repeat, and shuffle buttons are bigger, the track text font appears to be about 2 points larger, and the track text has a static opaque background which ensures the text will always be clearly readable, whereas the v3 translucent text background is potentially problematic as the overall background changes with the colors in the album art.  It's fine if it's an icon, there's typically only 1 to 4 states an icon represent, but text has infinite variations, and it shouldn't be muddied with a changing background.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who dislikes the button bar.  But you know what's even worse, that wave seek bar.  It's one of the worst UI ideas I've seen since this flat UI paradigm began.  I'd even wager graphic designers from 10 years ago would've had some choice words of criticism, and I'm not a gambling man.

Most of my v3 objections stem from my ability to interact with the app while I'm driving.  My car doesn't have steering wheel or deck controls.  The music comes out of my speakers but I have to use my phone to play/pause/stop, seek, and see the track info.  I just double tap the screen to turn it on and do what I need to do, but I can only glance and I have to be quick, and of the few v3 skins I've sampled so far, the track and list forward and backward buttons are too easy to miss.  I have gestures enabled, swiping left/right to goto the next/previous tracks is easy enough, but I intuitively go for the next/previous list buttons without thinking, maybe because swiping up/down to move forward/backward through lists confuses me; I don't know for sure, just a thought.

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3 hours ago, DevilSlayerDante said:

Besides, in my experience, people usually skim and miss the finer points I'm trying to make.

Yes, I suspect you are right there. But mostly it depends on whether people find what you have written to be interesting and relevant to them, regardless of whether you preface your comments with a demand for attention.

Pretty much everything you are discussing in para 2 is skinnable, or adjustable within PA's own Settings menus in many cases. PA is one of the most configurable music players I've ever come across - but it's up to you to define how you'd like it to work for your needs. The ELO screenshot I posted was just an example of what you can do with the basic supplied app without installing any other skins. So if you think the waveseek bar is "one of the worst UI ideas I've seen", turn it off. The default settings are intended to provide a visually attractive animated Material Design appearance (and yes, I know that comes down to personal opinion) which will attract people to download the app from seeing just the sample screenshots. 

For driving, use Android Auto which provides a minimalist interface specifically designed for in-car use, without affecting normal operation of the app outside of driving time. It even accepts voice commands. If you try to make a single interface work for hand-held and driving use, you'd end up with a hybrid mess that doesn't work well for either environment.

Andre

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22 hours ago, DevilSlayerDante said:

@andrewilley

But you know what's even worse, that wave seek bar.  It's one of the worst UI ideas I've seen...

@DevilSlayerDante respectfully you are obviously stating your personal opinions and are completely within your right to do so. But I am 180⁰ on the other side of the table in regards to the V3 UI. I see the waveseekbar as a very versatile tool to visually seek within a track knowing where different parts of the track can be easily identified. I also prefer the minimal approach to the buttons and menus, and have been using the $Yaps$ skin from @flyingdutchman to personalize it even further, mostly to make most of the backgrounds transparent. Fortunately there are several skin options that offer to "Hide" many of the elements don't like. 

I am not suggesting your points aren't valid, just that there are other opinions of the current app and skin features and design. Hopefully some of your suggestions can be assimilated into future releases of the respective PA and/or skin apps that will suit your preferences as well. I know I have shared my thoughts on occasion!😋

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On 7/7/2020 at 4:12 AM, andrewilley said:

For driving, use Android Auto

Android Auto won't start Poweramp, let alone play a custom playlist by voice command alone.  Plus, using voice commands while driving is spotty, I have a Toyota Matrix and there's a lot of road and wind noise, especially on highways, and Google Assistant messes up a lot because it can't hear my voice clearly.  I chose Poweramp seven years ago because it supports ReplayGain, Google Music doesn't, and I use Poweramp almost exclusively in my car.

On 7/7/2020 at 4:12 AM, andrewilley said:

If you try to make a single interface work for hand-held and driving use, you'd end up with a hybrid mess that doesn't work well for either environment.

The old interface worked well for both.

@MotleyG I'm glad you like the waveseek bar, it's just that I was always led to believe a GUI should never have overlapping interactive elements.  Bad design etiquette.  But as long as I can use the classic seek slider, it doesn't really affect me.  Also, I realize $YAPS$ is a very popular skin for PA, I just wish I could get a single, cohesive, skeuomorphic theme with as much customization as $YAPS$.  Retro Black and Retro Metallic have the (mostly) complete aesthetic I want but lack the customizability of $YAPS$, while $YAPS$ is just a mashup of various knobs, buttons, sliders, and backgrounds that aren't cohesive or complementary (not complimentary).

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14 minutes ago, DevilSlayerDante said:

Android Auto won't start Poweramp,

That's a shame, it works perfectly for me and would have been an ideal solution for what you are asking - apart from the buttons not looking like traditional in-car toggle-switches anyway. :) Are you trying to run it on your phone, or does your car head-unit have an Android Auto interface? I use the head-unit's AA mode, but PA also works fine under the Android Auto app on my phone too. I get a bit frustrated that the on-screen controls don't provide Category switching (for album changes) as well as Next/Prev Track, but I found can still use double-tap on the steering wheel remote buttons which does the job fine.

What specifically in the old v2 interface works better for in-car use by the way? Other that the slightly smaller default control icons and title text, both of which are skinnable. For example, I would suggest something like this in $YAPS$ for in-car use (sorry if you don't like my colour scheme or button choices, but that's completely skinnable per-each-item too):

image.png

Andre

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On 7/9/2020 at 4:52 AM, andrewilley said:
On 7/9/2020 at 4:11 AM, DevilSlayerDante said:

Android Auto won't start Poweramp,

That's a shame, it works perfectly for me and would have been an ideal solution for what you are asking - apart from the buttons not looking like traditional in-car toggle-switches anyway. :) Are you trying to run it on your phone, or does your car head-unit have an Android Auto interface? I use the head-unit's AA mode, but PA also works fine under the Android Auto app on my phone too. I get a bit frustrated that the on-screen controls don't provide Category switching (for album changes) as well as Next/Prev Track, but I found can still use double-tap on the steering wheel remote buttons which does the job fine.

I have an Alpine CDA-9883 head unit with a cheap bluetooth receiver wired into the proprietary Ai-Net line-in in the back.  No Android Auto, no touch screen, and no controls for bluetooth connected devices.  Even if AA did work with Poweramp on my phone, Poweramp just plays from the "All Songs" list when I use Google Assistant, I never could get it to play a playlist or just a single album or artist.  I currently have 3,480 tracks on my phone.

On 7/9/2020 at 4:52 AM, andrewilley said:

What specifically in the old v2 interface works better for in-car use by the way? Other that the slightly smaller default control icons and title text, both of which are skinnable. For example, I would suggest something like this in $YAPS$ for in-car use (sorry if you don't like my colour scheme or button choices, but that's completely skinnable per-each-item too)

Not taking into account the aesthetic, the layout and proportions are nearly perfect, only missing the repeat and shuffle buttons.

As for what in v2 works better for me in the car, clearer text, better contrast (depending on the skin), bigger buttons, and a very well-polished, stylish, skeuomorphic skin.

On 7/9/2020 at 7:14 AM, flyingdutchman said:

and not to forget BIGYAPS, it has large buttons, especially useful  for driving situations 

 

and 

its is

I did see that one recently when I was looking for more skins, but unfortunately, like your other YAPS skins, it doesn't have an aesthetic that appeals to me.

Here's another v2 skin I really liked, available for free by maxmp...until he took it down.

Edited by DevilSlayerDante
v2 skin example
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