Friday, July 23, 2010

Songbird's blackbird is back.

If you haven't heard of it by now, Songbird is a free, open source, cross platform media library that runs on Firefox's XUL and it happens to be my favorite replacement to iTunes. I've used foobar2000, a little bit of Winamp, some Banshee and a smidgen of Rhythmbox, but Songbird just blows them all out of the water in my opinion.

I know I sound biased, but that's the nice thing about having a blog instead of a software review site. Don't get me wrong, I did love foobar when I used it and I know Winamp is like the god of music library freeware, but I just love Songbird. I guess it's because I've used iTunes for years (not of my own free will...I've owned an iPod) and Songbird most resembles iTunes, almost to a copycat status.

Anyway, all that aside, I was extremely angry at Songbird when the highly anticipated 1.0 release changed the icon to a stupid orange bird instead of the little black dude with earphones. The thing that made the least sense was that they only changed a few icons, while leaving the rest of the website and help icons the same. But with the 1.7.3, I was very surprised and delighted to see the Songbird splash screen with good ol' blackbird looking back at me.

I'm going to use this post as a cheesy segway into me listing a few things that I think the Songbird team has done right and wrong:
-Changed the icon to orange: One of the things I loved about it was the icon. I think the original Songbird mascot has more character than possibly any other freeware mascot.
+Changed the icon back to black: It's not exactly the original, but it's miles better than the stupid "goldfish", as I call it.
+Ditched the web browser: This was a nice feature, but I definitely think the Songbird team made the right choice. Users started to ask too much, even to the point where I saw someone asking if Songbird could be made to manage PDF files. Definite kudos to them for making the hard decision to make a big change.
I really though I could remember them doing this, but I guess not. I wish they would.
-Drop Linux support: I just learned about this, but apparently back in January of '10, the Songbird team announced that they would drop official support for the Linux version and favor the Windows and Mac versions. I do see where they're coming from since the Linux version seems to be alot buggier and they can probably get a ton more features with the time they'd normally spend porting it to Linux, but still...it's a good way to piss people off, and it actually deters me from ever switching to Linux.
I have also just learned that 4 days after dropping support for Linux, some enthusiasts picked up the reigns and started their own "port" or "version" or what have you called 'Nightingale'. But that was in January and it's now July, and there's still not even a download in the Nightingale website.
-Drop official iPod support: Songbird is great because it caters to a ton of devices, but if it can't even work with the most popular media players -iPhones and iPod Touches- it seems a waste. The fact that they completely dropped iPod support and left it to the community is disappointing, and the fact that Songbird still can't support any version of iPhone/Touch is downright disheartening. This should really be a priority, in my opinion.

Anyway, I'm very pleased with the old Songbird being back.
-Bry

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