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View Full Version : Improve default "Now Playing" layout



0xdeadbeef
2009-10-16, 04:16
Apart from the bugs that currently plague the Radio, my biggest issue with it is that I can barely read anything on the display at night without my glasses apart from the clock screen saver. The "now playing" display has too small title/album/artist info, a completely unreadable time and wastes precious space of the (a little too) small display.

I created two mockups (middle and right) to show what I would imagine to look the "now playing" display like. Excuse the primitive design, but I think they show the idea.

The basic concept:
1) move the "playing" bar to the bottom
2) move the picture to the left to get usable space on the right
3) Display large time and date info on the right side.
4) Use a larger font and scrolling for title/album/artist info

The 2nd Mockup only differs in having only one scrolling line for title/album/artist info. Indeed this would be my preferred solution as this works great for me on my squeezebox classic.

As a side note, while my mockups also leave a border of unused pixels (as I'm lazy), I don't see any reason to do so on the Radio as there is already a black frame on the display. IMHO the display is too small to waste any pixels.

furtive
2009-10-16, 04:20
Fantastic. Would love to see the layout changed to this. Would really improve things

0xdeadbeef
2009-10-16, 04:54
One last mockup to show an idea regarding programmed alarms.
This would mean that today it's Monday and there are active alarms for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, but not for Saturday and Sunday.

I'm not quite sure if I'd like this design myself, but I think the concept has some potential. At least it packs a little more information in about the same space than the display of the weekday plus the alarm clock. Also there's some place for improvement, e.g. by using different symbols/colors/block sizes for different alarm settings. So could e.g. see that alarm 1 is programmed for weekdays and alarm 2 is programmed for the weekend. Again, I was too lazy to work this out ;)

gdpeck
2009-10-16, 06:38
One last mockup to show an idea regarding programmed alarms.
This would mean that today it's Monday and there are active alarms for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, but not for Saturday and Sunday.

I'm not quite sure if I'd like this design myself, but I think the concept has some potential. At least it packs a little more information in about the same space than the display of the weekday plus the alarm clock. Also there's some place for improvement, e.g. by using different symbols/colors/block sizes for different alarm settings. So could e.g. see that alarm 1 is programmed for weekdays and alarm 2 is programmed for the weekend. Again, I was too lazy to work this out ;)

I like this a lot, except I would lose the date, and possibly the days that the alarm fires, and just show the next 1 or 2 set alarm times.

aubuti
2009-10-16, 06:47
Nice ideas Oxdeadbeef. Moving the cover to the left is an especially "easy kill" to get more screen space. The only thing I don't like is the big fat progress bar -- this is something I think they got right with the current UI. The dot on the skinny line is plenty visible (for me), so it's very clear where you are in the track, especially if as the range is the full width of the screen. I'd leave it just as it is in the current UI: bright dot on a skinny bar sitting between the title(s) and the cover art.

Oh, and the more detailed alarm info is not a good idea imho. Trying to crowd too much info onto the screen again.

bpa
2009-10-16, 07:09
During the beta the cover art was initially on the left and progress bar was at the bottom. IIRC there are two groups of users
- those who want cover art and minimal text
- those who want more text details and less art

It was suggested that there should be two styles of NP.

0xdeadbeef
2009-10-16, 07:37
The only thing I don't like is the big fat progress bar -- this is something I think they got right with the current UI. The dot on the skinny line is plenty visible (for me), so it's very clear where you are in the track, especially if as the range is the full width of the screen. I'd leave it just as it is in the current UI: bright dot on a skinny bar sitting between the title(s) and the cover art.
I see the point, yet I still like my suggestion better ;)
Then again, there are probably lots of ways to design this without wasting too much precious vertical space without looking too crowded.


Oh, and the more detailed alarm info is not a good idea imho. Trying to crowd too much info onto the screen again.
Yeah, I tend to agree. Yet I wanted to show the concept. Maybe with a little fine tuning this could still work. E.g. imagine the grey a little darker (or less opaque).


During the beta the cover art was initially on the left and progress bar was at the bottom. IIRC there are two groups of users
- those who want cover art and minimal text
- those who want more text details and less art

The cover art is only a little bit smaller in my mockups and with some fine tuning, it could be the same size as it's currently. Anyway, with a square cover, you will always have empty horizontal space. IMHO it just doesn't make sense to waste it with emptiness and then have a clock that uses a font with about 4 pixels in height.

Anyway, I think the problem with the current design is that it neither takes the size of the display nor the typical use case into account. The current "now playing" layout is ok for a mere player and the clock screensaver is ok for a mere clock, but a Squeezebox Radio that is designed to be used as alarm clock should have a display that combines both aspects. This is what I tried to achieve with my mockups and while the details and the design are discussible, I think the basic idea is right.

ModelCitizen
2009-10-16, 07:44
Have you copyrighted the layout?
:-)

I do hope not. I'd love to see this adopted by Logitech. It is obvious that no thought has been put into the current interface and that it has been very much rushed out to far-too-tight deadlines

MC

0xdeadbeef
2009-10-16, 07:55
Have you copyrighted the layout?
:-)
Assume them to be Creative Commons ;)


I'd love to see this adopted by Logitech.
This was the intention of posting them. Or maybe an applet creator takes over the idea. I guess if the Lua source of the current screen savers was available, it wouldn't be much too difficult to modify it to reflect the first or 2nd layout suggestion.



It is obvious that no thought has been put into the current interface and that it has been very much rushed out to far-too-tight deadline.
Quite obviously. Also note that the "now playing" screen on all the official product pictures is either a mockup or maybe from the beta phase. At least it doesn't reflect the actual display at all.

furtive
2009-10-16, 08:22
Quite obviously. Also note that the "now playing" screen on all the official product pictures is either a mockup or maybe from the beta phase. At least it doesn't reflect the actual display at all.

Same as the Boom then. You can't get it looking like the display on the box it comes in without using a 3rd party plugin!

JJZolx
2009-10-16, 11:31
Have you guys seen this yet? This will be the new Now Playing layout in the next release, due out in a couple weeks. (You can see it by running the latest nightly of desktop SqueezePlay and selecting the 'QVGA Landscape Skin' under Settings > Screen > Select Skin.)

0xdeadbeef
2009-10-16, 11:48
This is the layout used in all the press pictures and I guess that's also the main purpose the designer had in mind.
Unfortunately, it keeps all the bad points (e.g. barely readable time) of the current layout and makes the title even less readable. I sure hope that the developers understand that this layout is as useless as the current one for a bedside radio.

Matt Wise
2009-10-16, 12:13
Keep in mind that not everyone is reading their display from far away... so there will simply not be "one" Now Playing screen that solves everyones wishes and desires. I use my Radio on my desk at work, about 12" from my hand -- so I very much like smaller text and the new full-screen artwork. However, I agree that from 10+ft away its basically useless (though at least with full screen artwork, its prettier!).

Ultimately I think its reasonable to go in a direction of customizable Now Playing screens on all SP-based products... as each person is going to use them differently. Its not an easy job -- so I strongly encourage the community to try to help with that in any productive way that they can.

0xdeadbeef
2009-10-16, 12:28
Well, with it's mono setup and the built in RTC, the Radio is clearly aimed to be (also) used as a bedside radio.

There may be people who are able to read the time in the current "now playing" display, but I would assume there are not too many customers who have the eyesight of an eagle if they're sleepy and puffy.

Anyway, of course I'd be happy if there were multiple designs to choose from and to modify. Yet, the default design should be somewhat usable for the planned use case.

peterw
2009-10-16, 13:22
Ultimately I think its reasonable to go in a direction of customizable Now Playing screens on all SP-based products... as each person is going to use them differently. Its not an easy job -- so I strongly encourage the community to try to help with that in any productive way that they can.

Another reason to open source the Now Playing screen and core screensavers. :-)
https://bugs.slimdevices.com/show_bug.cgi?id=14194

gdpeck
2009-10-16, 14:13
I like that artwork.

kidstypike
2009-10-16, 14:19
I like that artwork.

Well here's some more!
What's happened to the player controls on Squeezeplay?

JJZolx
2009-10-16, 14:23
Well here's some more!
What's happened to the player controls on Squeezeplay?

It's a known bug whenever you change skins. Close SqueezePlay and then open it back up and it will correct itself.

kidstypike
2009-10-16, 14:29
It's a known bug whenever you change skins. Close SqueezePlay and then open it back up and it will correct itself.

Thanks JJZolx, that's what I did, and they're back.

Keymaster
2009-10-16, 17:00
New FW finally got album art to go full screen in now playing (but it's scaled a touch too big; I'm sure they'll fix that soon enough). I'm from the "the more artwork, the better" school. To that end, I would say that the perfect NP screen for me would be full screen art with all borders and info being hidden until an action is taken. Just like Windows "hide taskbar"

I know it's probably not everyone's cup of tea, but I think that would rule...:)

0xdeadbeef
2009-10-16, 17:15
Yeah, sure. Who would want to see the time on an alarm clock if you can see a cover instead?

Keymaster
2009-10-16, 17:46
Yeah, sure. Who would want to see the time on an alarm clock if you can see a cover instead?

I use it as an alarm clock and am -4.00 in each eye...empathy here...

I just like having the art go fullscreen on the Now Playing screen during the day is all...and the more the better :)...

Keep in mind that you can set the "Now Playing" screensaver to be any of the available clocks, not necessarily album art anyhow (although I would agree that the alarm time should be displayed, not just the fact that it's set)

Three cheers for anyone who manages to get all that info into a lil' LCD screen :)

gweempose
2009-10-16, 19:14
I'm hoping the new firmware will increase the actual screen size by two inches. Now that would be impressive! :D

MeSue
2009-10-16, 19:33
I LOVE LOVE LOVE the two in your first post, but agree with aubuti that the progress bar is fine as it is now (except I would include the elapsed/total time numbers on left and right).

I installed 7.4.1 today and saw the new NP screen like in JJZolx post above. I'm all for bigger artwork, but HATE HATE HATE the chopped off top and bottoms, especially when it results in a chopped off head.

By the way, have you checked out Erland's custom clock screensaver? This is what I am using for now on the Radio, because I wanted to have the time readable from a distance.

peterw
2009-10-16, 22:17
I think the new NP screen on Radio looks great. Now I get a little color & imagery without the goofy shrunken head thumbnail approach. I have no strong affection for official cover art, and this new NP screen very smartly uses the cover art to give some visual interest without making the screen look like the CD page of the Best Buy sale flyer. Nicely done!

ModelCitizen
2009-10-16, 23:51
I like the iPeng approaxh where some of the controls or other extraneous information only shows up if you tap the screen (or vice versa). This way you can choose (via a single tap) to have plain unobscured album art or have it overlaid with control/extra information.

Chopped album art is bad whichever way you look at it... as is a bedside alarm/radio where you can't read the time from more than a few inches away.

I think need a MusicInfo screensaver for the Radio/Touch (and I'd also really like to see visualisations too). Signing up for the bug in my signature so the developers can use the existing code without fear of being hung, drawn and quartered is quite important. Hopefully it'll help keep one of the original ideas of the SlimDevices company alive.

MC

erland
2009-10-17, 00:01
Another reason to open source the Now Playing screen and core screensavers. :-)
https://bugs.slimdevices.com/show_bug.cgi?id=14194


Anyone that wants a better Now Playing screen, please also vote on the bug report peterw mentioned.
With the current source code license it's not possible for a third party developer to do a custom Now Playing screen without rewriting all the Now Playing screen code.

Basically, it would be pretty easy to optimize the Now Playing screen for various types of usage scenarios and with a specific design optimized for the Squeezebox Radio device. However, the problem for Logitech is that they would like to use a design that also works on the Controller and Touch and they prefer to not have too many different choices since that increase the maintenance and support. I completely understand this, but if they made the source available under a license that allowed redistribution of modifications it would be possible for third party developers to ...

0xdeadbeef
2009-10-17, 06:21
Although this thread seems to have been kidnapped by covert art fetishists, one more mockup for those who prefer the 7.4.0 progress bar over the classic one.

Note that less important info is displayed on the bottom: on the left are play options and play time. On the middle/right is the next alarm and the WLAN status.

I think I like this the best of my mockups. It displays every important info without looking too crowded.

And yes, I voted for Bug 14194 (https://bugs.slimdevices.com/show_bug.cgi?id=14194) and encourage everybody else to do so as well if he/she is unhappy with the current NP layout.

gdpeck
2009-10-17, 11:08
Although this thread seems to have been kidnapped by covert art fetishists, one more mockup for those who prefer the 7.4.0 progress bar over the classic one.

Note that less important info is displayed on the bottom: on the left are play options and play time. On the middle/right is the next alarm and the WLAN status.

I think I like this the best of my mockups. It displays every important info without looking too crowded.

And yes, I voted for Bug 14194 (https://bugs.slimdevices.com/show_bug.cgi?id=14194) and encourage everybody else to do so as well if he/she is unhappy with the current NP layout.

I like it! But I still think it's more important to see the next alarm time. I wouldn't care if my alarm clock never showed me the date.

ModelCitizen
2009-10-17, 18:40
I've never been called a covert art fetishist before.

MC

0xdeadbeef
2009-10-18, 02:14
There is always the first time for everything. And self-awareness is the first step to a cure ;)

No, really, don't get me wrong. I have a cover embedded in each and every MP3 on my server. I love Moose for it's cover art selector and I definitely think the cover should be displayed in the "now playing" display. Then again, when I'm listening to music in the morning before getting up, the most important thing for me is the time (and date for the few cases when I'm really sleepy and confused ;)) and the next important thing is the title/artist info, especially when I listen to internet radio or Last.fm.

And I really can't imagine that my request for a usable display of artist/title AND time/date is that of a minority if I assume that the bedside radio scenario is a typical use case.

Besides, the knob is currently not used at all in the NP display. I could imagine it to switch between different display types. E.g. default setting the mixed type I suggested, turn it to the left for a big clock/date display, turn it to the right for a title/artist/covert art display.

ModelCitizen
2009-10-18, 02:40
And I really can't imagine that my request for a usable display of artist/title AND time/date is that of a minority if I assume that the bedside radio scenario is a typical use case.
I'm sure it's the majority case. You're probably not aware but the Boom had a similar problem when it was being developed. The NP screen saver did not include a clock (a pretty big omission for a device that was marketed as a bedside hifi/clock radio, amongst other things). At least with the Radio the clock was included by default (even if it is too small to read)!

MC

dwilliams01
2009-10-18, 08:07
New FW finally got album art to go full screen in now playing (but it's scaled a touch too big; I'm sure they'll fix that soon enough). I'm from the "the more artwork, the better" school. To that end, I would say that the perfect NP screen for me would be full screen art with all borders and info being hidden until an action is taken. Just like Windows "hide taskbar"

I know it's probably not everyone's cup of tea, but I think that would rule...:)

Agree with this. I'd just rather see the artwork until I touch the knob or something. The controls should hang around until the screensaver timeout after the last control motion. Perhaps the "artwork only" one is just a "true" screensaver?