In MPlayer, executing any commands forced the player to unpause. This is no longer the case; in mplayer2 you can change settings, seek, or execute other commands while paused.
mplayer2 has improved support for Matroska files, including support for ordered chapters and editions.
It’s now possible to seek to any frame in the video; seeks are no longer necessarily limited to keyframes.
The message translation support in MPlayer was basically useless for binary Linux distributions, as the message language was hardcoded at compile time and supporting several languages would have required a separate program binary for every one. Runtime-switchable translations with gettext are now supported.
MPlayer required an embedded copy of FFmpeg to compile. This caused a maintenance burden as changes in FFmpeg fairly often broke the compilation of MPlayer. While it could link against shared FFmpeg libraries it would still use some code from the embedded tree instead, and also depended on internal FFmpeg symbols that are not part of the public API, thus making any dynamic-linked binaries liable to break when FFmpeg libraries are updated. MPlayer2 does not depend on embedded FFmpeg library copies and uses FFmpeg only through its public API. This eases maintenance and makes dynamic-linked binaries safe.
The MEncoder codebase was thoroughly rotten and has been deleted. A different solution to provide some encoding functionality will be added in a future version.
The bad internal GUI (gmplayer) has been deleted. Future work will concentrate on improving the interface for external GUI implementations instead.
Using libass to render subtitles gives better font rendering and styling support, but on the other hand some subtitle options may not work as before or at all. The video filter needed to draw libass subtitles with video output drivers that do not directly support rendering them may also cause problems in some rare cases (videos with unusual colorspaces). If you encounter problems you can use the “-noass” option to use the old subtitle rendering functionality.
libavformat demuxers are now the default for some file formats that used internal demuxer versions by default in MPlayer (most notably AVI). This can cause some behavior differences as the demuxers have slightly different feature sets - sometimes better, but sometimes also worse.
This leads to some behavior differences when playing multiple files.
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