Songbird

Songbird Takes Flight With 1.0 Release

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Songbird, the open-source, media focused web browser, has launched its 1.0 milestone release to the public. The browser, which we’ve covered extensively since it was first announced back in 2005, offers a number of features that make it an appealing alternative to music players like iTunes, including a feature called mashTape will automatically cull the internet for relevant content for each song you play, using sources like YouTube and Flickr. The app also includes integrated support for Last.fm, concert ticket purchases, and add-ons to further enhance the browser.

In practice the browser works well (not much of the interface seems to have changed since the .7 release that I covered in August). Since .7, most of the changes have been under the hood, enhancing music playback and performance along with a few minor tweaks (for example, users can now use keyboard shortcuts).

The experience may seem odd for first time users, as it presents a strange fusion of iTunes with Firefox (the two browsers share the same Mozilla engine). But after a few minutes the foreignness wears off and the benefits become clear, though I suspect that some people will never get over the hybrid nature of the feature-set.

The app does have some acknowledged shortcomings – you can’t rip albums using Songbird, and there’s no way to sync an iPhone to the app. These pitfalls would probably be enough to put off most casual users, but Songbird appeals to a more hardcore listening demographic that is more willing to embrace emerging software (90% of the app’s users are on Firefox, and 80% have music libraries over 10 gigs in size).

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