Songbird 0.3 developer pre-release available now
For the uninitiated, Songbird is an open-source music player, built on the Mozilla's XULRUnner platform (the same platform as Firefox, Thunderbird, etc.), that in their own words "is a desktop media player mashed up with the web." In past releases, the promise of web-music player integration was starting to peek through, but the potential is especially evident with this release.
So what's new?
The biggest new feature is Webpage API. Simply put, Webpage API allows web page designers to integrate their own site with Songbird's feature set. For example, the popular music-blog aggregator, Hype Machine, has integrated elements of its site into Songbird. Not only does Songbird immediately display the first 50 MP3 links on the "popular" list. There are also Amazon.com purchase links, if available, as well as direct blog links. Those tracks are then draggable to user created playlists.
Webpage API also offers some cool features for music download/purchase. If the site offers MP3s for download, Songbird lets you download those file and automatically imports the music into the library. You know, like iTunes. OK, so that might not be THAT cool - but some sites, for instance SkreemeR, will detect what song you are playing and automatically offer you a chance to search for more music by that artist. THAT is cool.
Songbird also offers greatly improved Add-On API for developers (think plug-ins for Firefox) that can add features to Songbird. Because Songbird is also a browser, many popular Firefox plug-ins like Adblock Plus and Grease Monkey have already been made available for 0.3.
Songbird also claims that it's Feathers (think program skins) customization process is easier and more advanced than previous versions. If you can use CSS, you can design your own look for Songbird.
Just like prior releases, Songbird is able to playback DRM-protected content from iTunes and Windows Media (Windows Media DRM is compatible only on Windows), as well as most popular audio formats (MP3, AAC, Ogg vorbis, FLAC and more).
Is it Ready?
In our admittedly brief testing period, Songbird crashed three times. It played back files easily and integrated well with music blogs other music-related sites, but we're not ready to make it our default music player. It's closer than ever to being a viable alternative, so check it out!