This too, actually.
After using 1.6 more, I must admit I’m liking they way the Now Playing works overall. It does need some tweaking; cosmetics (big grey bar at bottom, yuck), picture cropping issues, and I’d prefer the album art be the main picture, not the artist, or at least let us choose.
A post was split to a new topic: Roon lost control of playback device errors
I’ve read most of the comments in this thread and it seems like most people like the changes in 1.6. I like the changes in 1.6 very much. I believe the problem lies with peoples expectations. Most people were anticipating much more significant changes (improvements?) and so when their expectations are not met, of course they’re disappointed regardless of how much work and improvements the team accomplished here. Despite the level of ranting of the now playing screen, I think it’s an improvement and will certainly get better over time. Roon is currently expending significant effort to improve metadata. Artist images and album covers are getting better every day. Continue the good work Roon. You’re doing great and it’ll only get better.
I guess I’ll add the images that made me stop using the display feature.
Artist: Rafael Kubelik / Berlin Philharmonic
Image 1: Clearly the Berlin Philharmonic (with Simon Rattle) but looks good.
Image 2: A heavily pixelated image showing the back of a conductor and a musician.
Brian, I appreciate the fact that you’re seeking input. But your question is, respectfully, misguided and erroneous. The automated engine of Roon provides photos of, literally, thousands of artists to your subscribers around the world. And that is on a daily basis. A few examples from me, or any user, barely scratches the surface. I could give you a long list of artists where the photos provided by Roon now fail, but that would still be only a faction of what Roon must process on an hourly or daily basis.
Your automated UI and engine must work 97% of the time on the presentation of photos and should not have a failure rate of higher than 3%. Seriously, there is no excuse for a failure rate of higher than 3% since the UI for how the photos are presented is 100% within your control. The presentation of photos is easy for you to replicate at your end when you design software; and the presentation of photos can be fixed at your end. We aren’t talking about something that you can’t always account for like end user configurations. Photos should work 97% of time since you can replicate and tests the results prior to releasing new software.
(And just to cover one issue posed by some. No is suggesting that Roon needs to edit every photo. That is my point above – it is impossible. But the Roon UI and design should work 97% of the time on the photos that it processes. That design is fully within the control of Roon.)
Please thoroughly test your betas before release. Especially since you charge for, and presumably profit from the service. That testing was indisputably not thoroughly done for version 1.6 when it comes to photos. Your own subscribers have been able to find problems in ten minutes or less. I spent only 30 minutes to find and save the examples below. You can do that as well.
That most likely won’t be enough, due to the hatchet cropping of square photos to fit the upper half of rectangular screens, with the resulting grossly inflated enlargements, but only you can test it. And not by asking all of us for for examples. There are too many artists and too many variables. But if you and your staff turn on the Radio, and try clearly different artists from different genres, sub genres, and different decades and look at the artists – in THREE types of windows – the “regular window,” the “Now Playing” window, and the search results window – you will see enough failures to know what you need to correct. The problems are even worse in the “regular” windows. I provided an example from the search results window in my last post below.
Just spend one full day endlessly clicking through one choice after another using Roon Radio. You’ll be able to replicate the problems – and then change the design and SOLVE any problems.
(And after you get tired of looking at your dumb pop up in the Radio asking why you forwarded past a selection, maybe you’ll give us the option to turn it off, as several of us have requested. It is useful when we have the time to use it, but otherwise it is very annoying.)
But with that said, I will post examples below for you focusing on types of problems that now occur.
Please see my explanation above for how Roon can solve these problems, in part by more thoroughly testing their beta designs prior to release.
This problem occurs in both windows, and it would be a mistake to focus only on the “Now Playing” window. The regular window, with type, has even more problems. You need to focus your testing on BOTH types of windows. And do a major redesign that accounts for both windows.
My apologies for long posts, but you asked for examples. And your web page presents only one option to upload photos as far as I can tell.
Here is original version of Wayne Shorter as downloaded only last night – an example of a more modern artist, and like all of them, he also has a square photo to start with:
Here is what happens when the new design applies a hatchet crop to the photo, blow it up, and then buries Wayne Shorter behind type in the regular window.
This is just plain ugly by any definition:
And here is the result when face recognition fails and the head is cut off in the Now Playing window:
The original 1.5 version of Herbert von Karajan, one of the most important conductors of the last century, again as downloaded last night:
Von Karajan with the sledge hammer crop applied to the top of his face, then massively enlarged, and finally, butchered behind type in the “normal” window. This is beyond ugly. Words escape me. Again, downloaded last night.
Please see my explanation (2 posts above) for how Roon can solve these problems, in part by more thoroughly testing their beta designs prior to release.
As per your request, several final examples. This also includes a third type of window that you need to redesign, namely how photos are presented in the window for search results.
The original version, downloaded last night. By the way, I turned on Roon Radio after this artist, and was surprised to hit over 20 artists nearly simultaneously and one after another, without any photos at all. That really made the case for album covers in the Now Playing window, for in those cases we are left with nothing but a black screen for half of the window.
Here is the artist after the hatchet crop is applied, then enlarged, and finally buried behind type in an ugly result in the regular window:
And here is the result in the Now Playing window, again from only last night:
The original version of an older illustration of Bartok, one of the most important composers of the 20th century:
Here is the result after your brutal hatchet crop to fill a rectangular screen with gross enlargement:
Two final examples. The original photo now enlarged and butchered behind type in an ugly result:
The original photo off center in your itty bitty little circle. As others have commented, this page of search results is a dumb design with small circles and huge amounts of white space.
Please, can common sense prevail? Use squares for square photos and make the squares larger – you have huge amounts of wasted white space on those pages now. That type of page is a classic example of a designer doing something that he or she thought was creative, but completely flunks the test of practical functionality.
And that folks tells it how it is…brilliant post!!!
Independent of location (I believe the location is fine), I will echo comments elsewhere by saying the the thumbs up/down is unclear as an icon. For example, if you had not read a manual (of this forum), what would you presume this does?
- Tell Roon you don’t like the track and to mark it as bad and not play it in the future?
- Skip it just for now in this suggestion only?
- Influence how Roon is picking radio tracks for you?
- Something else?
I would vote for a replacement of the thumbs icons (which look out of place in the interface BTW) with something that is more indicative of the action being taken.
Unfortunately, I have to confirm this. Many artist photos (especially though not exclusively classical) have this issue. I see no improvement (yet) at all, just like with the suddenly changing album cover art, making 1.6 by no means an improvement in my experience so far.
My point is that it is a major step backwards. Just compare my examples above of the photos before cropping, to after the version 1.6 crop is applied. Version 1.5 was a practical and functional version of software to display photos that enhance music. And the text was easy to read. Now the photo, in too many cases, is butchered and buried behind the text, which detracts from BOTH the photo and the text.
Based on Brian’s comment, I fear that the next release is only trying to poke around the edges to solve the problem by providing more space for enlargements. That alone won’t solve the problems I posted above.
Can’t we just go back to 1.5, with Qobuz?
My first reaction to that request was to reject it. Version 1.6 does have important benefits. It includes Qobuz as you note. (Although because I live in the U.S. I have never tried it and still don’t know if it is an improvement over Tidal.) Version 1.6 makes it easier to access the artist bios and info on albums on the Now Playing page, and those are the features I utilize the most and why I subscribe. So I like the new icons and easy access to those features on the Now Playing page. Lyrics are a different matter. The new automatic scrolling lyrics are great, but are only available less than 30% of the time. The new ugly static lyrics don’t work but Roon reported that they will fix that. So the new and soon to be improved lyrics are a positive improvement.
But now I am reconsidering. The comments from Brian are ominous. Simply providing more room for greater coverage of the photos won’t come close to fixing the problems with photos. And the way photos are presented is probably the single most single important design element of Roon. We see photos of artists on every page.
When the new approach to photos works, it works well. When it fails, it is ugly and laughable. Roon needs a major redesign to address this problem, and not just tinker around the edges of version 1.6.
As I said in my first post of the day, the presentation of photos needs to work 97% of the time and not have failure rate of greater than 3%. Roon can easily test the beta to meet that standard.
I will continue to advocate for no cropping. Zoom photos maximally within the allotted space without cropping. This will often leave bars on either the sides or top/bottom, depending on the aspect ratio, that can then be colored with hints from the photo. None of these issues would then be at play except perhaps pixelation if the photo is very low resolution (but not as bad as it is now in those cases).
A second issue, that I don’t recall being mentioned, is the “accuracy” of the photos. Often times, I’m listening to an artist’s early album and looking a photo of the artist from 20+ years after the album release. Feels disorienting. Even worse is when a band has changed significantly. A good example is Blood, Sweat, and Tears. Their first album is a classic - Child is Father to the Man. The photo has a more recent BST that is really a different band altogether. I’m listening to Kooper, Katz, Brecker in the first album, but who are those guys in the photo? BST was Al Kooper’s band. The name remained but the band didn’t. I may be a music geek, but that puts a negative kink in listening to the album when I see the more recent band that produces music not even in the same sub-genre, and that I have never enjoyed! (rant off )
That solution would work well for photos on the Now Playing page. Roon could develop it and thoroughly test it.
However, It would likely not work on the “regular” page. If those photos are placed behind the text, we will still have that problem. See Stan Getz, Wayne Shorter, and other examples above. Photos behind text just detracts from both the photos and the text and the result is often ugly and looks like mush. In the case of the “regular” page, Roon should return to photos in boxes as in version 1.5. It would be nice if have those photos are a bit larger, and a modest redesign could accomplish that without detracting from other design elements.
I agree: There shouldn’t be photos behind text (biographies, album reviews, credits) at all. To me, doing so is form over function. Just makes reading more difficult.
@brian I know this is a contentious issue and some voices are very loud in their condemnation and as long tern users you must of course listen to your existing customer base, but as a brand new user I really like the Now Playing screen exactly as it is.
It’s modern and attractive, I don’t need identifiable pictures of artists, just an attractive, sensibly cropped, non-pixelated backdrop to the album art and playing information. I’m happy with a blown-up mid face shot, a bit of a trumpet and an arm, a pair of hands on a piano, a music score and a violin up against a chin - that’s artistic and attractive and I like it. Its only a backdrop, I’m not using the damn image so I can identify the artist in the street should I ever come across them! For the artist screen maybe there should be some other solution, but for the Now Playing screen I say it is a handsome thing and needs but a little picture choosing intelligence behind it.
Just saying. The loud voice is not always the consensus, although it will should loudly that it is. Now I’m off to leave you to making Roon better and I won’t be answering every post in here with my strongly held opinion, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have one.
Nope, strongly disagree, cover art is fine the size and where it is - what is all this raving on about cover art in here! I don’t want to sit staring at the blasted cover art full screen thanks! A nice backdrop in some way related to what’s playing will be fine thanks, artist pics if there are any, or anything artistic and fitting the space - I think the now playing screen is a great step forward from clunky 90’s iTunes type design philosophy.