As I read my Linuxtoday.com RSS feed today, I discovered a new piece of software. Songbird aims to be, in their words, “the Firefox of media players.” They seem to be on the right track. First of all, it works on all majors operating systems: Windows, Mac, and Linux (and by extention BSD). Second, it has taken a good, intuitive interface which appears to have based on a cross between Linux’s Rhythmn Box and Mac/Window’s iTunes. I downloaded developer release 0.2 to see what the fuss was about. Frankly, it’s doing quite well for just being a developer release!
It already has a multitude of plugins, including the ever-important AudioScrobbler (or last.fm) plugin. In fact, it’s a great last.fm plugin which actually shows all the songs it has submitted. This way you know if a song not displayed on the website is due to your program (songbird) or something else.
I played a variety of files without any problems whatsoever. So I am not quite sure what the reason for the 0.2 release number is. Perhaps I’m not taking advantage of some of the more complicated aspects of the players. In fact, one of their neatest features is one that I won’t be trying tonight, but basically when you visit a website, (in Songbird’s builtin browser) you are presented with an interface for downloading all the songfiles present in the page. It’s a very neat feature for music-related blogs and other sites where bands host their MP3s, WMAs, or OGGs.
So far it looks like they’ve probably won me over. The interface is nice and clean. It loads up infinitely faster than Windows Media Player. I guess it doesn’t hurt that the creators also claim to be the minds behind WinAmp – one of my favorite players from back in the day. We’ll see if they can reach their dream of unseating iTunes the way Firefox unseated Internet Explorer. Good luck guys! You have at least one convert already.
If I have to give them any bad marks, it has to be that for some of my WMAs, but, strangely, not for others, it does not appear to read the metadata and fill in the Artist, Title, etc. It may just be that these never had their fields filled in and that WMP would just fill them in on the fly when I loaded up the tracks. It’ll be interesting to investigate.