Semantic Playback in beaTunes4
Some of you might already be aware of the Early Access (EA) series I'm currently releasing. It's all in preparation for beaTunes4, the next version I've been working on for the last year. Needless to say, I'm very excited to be so close to the actual release.
So what's new?
The most obvious change is probably the built-in player. Front and center it lets you play the audio part of whatever you have in your library. It respects ReplayGain and can scrobble to Last.FM–both features can be configured in the new Playback preferences. Of course you can access parts of any song simply by using the slider. But unlike most other desktop music players, beaTunes also lets you navigate semantically. Usually pop songs have a strong structure, using sometimes repeating elements like intro, verse, chorus, bridge, and outro. With the new analysis task Similarities & Segments, beaTunes can automatically annotate songs with the corresponding information, which in turn allows for easier intra-song navigation. A simple example for this feature is Peek (in the song context menu). It performs on-the-fly segmentation and starts playback at a prominent spot–often the chorus or the verse. In essence, this is much like audio-thumbnailing or previewing. Another way to take advantage of segments and similarities are the controls in the aptly named Controls menu. If a song is segmented, you can navigate to the next segment or similarity via keyboard shortcuts. Without segmentation data the same shortcuts perform jumps.
Note that the computed segmentation is not always perfect. For example, it does not work very well for weakly structured or monotonous music like EDM, or for music with unsteady tempo (e.g. live performances with a bad drummer). However, polished productions by pop music artists like Adele can usually be segmented very well (see screenshot).
Naturally, this is not the only new feature. In the screenshot, you can also see the new Transition column, an alternative BPM value, and more... If you'd like to try out an Early Access release, please go to the Early Access Page and download the latest version. And if you do so, please provide feedback. I'm especially eager to hear more about the 64-bit-Windows version.