Two things we are beginning to talk about regularly at IFTF are open source and free media. Songbird, a media player in development by San Francisco's Pioneers of the Inevitable, harnesses both of these things.
Two things we are beginning to talk about regularly at IFTF are open source and free media. Songbird, a media player in development by San Francisco's Pioneers of the Inevitable, harnesses both of these things. Songbird recently released its 0.5 version, and while not quite ready for consumers yet, it is building a strong community of developers and users.
From their website:
Play music. Play the Web.
Songbird is a desktop media player mashed-up with the Web. Songbird is committed to playing the music you want, from the sites you want, on the devices you want, challenging the conventions of discovery, purchase, consumption and organization of music on the Internet.
Songbird is a player and a platform. Like Firefox, Songbird is an open source, Open Web project built on the Mozilla platform. Songbird provides a public playground for Web media mash-ups by providing developers with both desktop and Web APIs, developer resources and fostering Open Web media standards, to wit, an Open Media Web.
Built on Mozilla's XUL, Songbird is both a media player and web browser. By mashing up these applications, Songbird features a few interesting innovations. When surfing to an MP3 blog page, Songbird automatically sniffs out any media on the page and pops up a playlist of those tracks. Instead of having to download or play in a separate tab to test out the track, users can double click the song in the pop-up playlist to sample it. If you like it, you can simply click "Download" to save the song to your library. Once in your library, you can drag the track to a playlist or transfer it to a portable device. Songbird also lets you view your library in tag clouds and filter your library by metadata categories iTunes doesn't support.
Since it's open source, Songbird leverages an add-on platform for developers to create their own extensions and themes called "Feathers." There are already a good number of add-ons for Songbird, including a few that contextualize your music listening with metadata from all over the Web. My favorite thus far is an eMusic plugin that allows you to surf and download from eMusic directly through the player, bypassing eMusic's downloader, making the overall user experience much friendlier for eMusic users. Developers have also created device support for nearly every portable music device under the sun, including the iPod.
For audiophiles who scour the Internet for free media, Songbird is a great all-inclusive tool—a window to an Internet teeming with free media. The Internet provides the content, but Songbird helps your harvest, use, and make sense of it. As the community grows, it will be interesting to see what extensions people create and what kind of user base Songbird will foster. This recent release has brought them some good press, including MacLife and Wired. For more detailed information, check out the Songbird blog.
— Jess Hemerly,