Amarok 2.1 - Changed widgets interface
The playlist can still be a mess, with songs from albums mixed throughout the entire playlist or compilations which are shown separately for each individual artist. Still, there is no keyboard shortcut to search through the playlist (like Alt+E in Amarok 1.4). There is now an Update Collection option under the Tools menu, just like in 1.4, so you won't need to rescan the collection each time you add some new music to it.
The good thing about this release is that users who liked more the older, classic playlist can switch to it now. Besides this, there is also a playlist editor available, which lets you decide which fields are shown and which not:
Playlist Layout Editor
The interface is more appealing now, and the blue really looks very good. The central widget is better organised now, offering easier access to lyrics or Wikipedia information.
Lyrics and Wikipedia widgets
Amarok 2.1 comes with 7 different internet services, including Jamendo and Magnatune music stores, Last.fm integration and Podcast Directory. The podcast directory integration is really great and useful, and it will fetch large lists of podcasts from various domains. Notice that you'll have to drag the selected podcast in order to add it to the playlist (although good functionality, this should be available in a context menu too when right-clicking the podcast). Also, for me every podcast refused to play, and Amarok issued the error "Too many errors encountered in the playlist. Playback stopped". Adding a large number of podcasts can make it freeze and render it unusable.
Podcast Directory service
The Last.fm integration is very good, and it provides your profiles information directly inside Amarok. You can listen to Last.fm radio, submit the tracks you are playing, see neighbours and friends (and play their personal radio), love and skip tracks.
Last.fm inside Amarok
I noticed Amarok won't fetch covers from local folders, and the Amazon cover fetching seems to be pretty poor. Also, I have albums with names which go like Dark Side of the Moon [Twentieth Anniversary Edition] or Let There Be Rock [2003 Remaster] and the covers are not retrieved for those ones. This is where local cover fetching would be very useful, just like in 1.4.
Bottom up, Amarok still lacks several major features, not to mention usability, but it's obvious that 2.1 has made some progresses compared to 2.0. There is no equalizer, many bugs, the playlist can get a little messy. As most of Amarok's fans know by now, Amarok 2.x can't be compared with 1.4 in terms of features yet, but (hopefully) these will be implemented. It's just that it takes way too much time.