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Media Music Software Apple

iTunes On OS X Finally Has Competition 668

Posted by timothy
from the file-managers-that-also-play-music dept.
mallumax writes "The truth is, iTunes is an average music player. Though the UI is simple and good like most Apple products, it has lagged in features compared to music players available on Linux and Windows. A feature as basic as monitoring a folder and adding the latest music files to the library is unavailable in iTunes. There are no plugins or themes. Despite the many faults, many of us continued to use iTunes because of the lack of options available. But today the wait is finally over. Not one, but two music players have become credible contenders. Songbird: An open source music player which has been in the works for more than 2 years has finally released its 1.0 Release Candidate builds. The team behind Songbird has members who previously developed for both Winamp and the Yahoo Music Engine. It has support for extensions and themes ('feathers' in Songbird parlance). Amarok: The undisputed champion among Linux music players is finally coming to OS X, thanks to KDE 4 being ported there. Amarok developer Leo Franchi has been able to run a Amarok on OS X natively. So we can expect a reasonably stable Amarok to hit OS X in a few months' time. Hopefully these players will gain traction among OS X users, which will finally force Apple to either step up in terms of features or open up iTunes for extensions."
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iTunes On OS X Finally Has Competition

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  • Lacking Support (Score:5, Insightful)

    by almostinsane (770051) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:36PM (#25667809)
    Apple iPhones, iPod Touch and Microsoft Zune devices are not yet supported. Yeah, big contender.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jon3k (691256)
      hahaha so you're the guy that bought the zune huh? no seriously though, it does still support every other apple ipod.
    • by maztuhblastah (745586) on Friday November 07, 2008 @12:58AM (#25671929) Journal
      Ah. Right. Almost three years ago. [slashdot.org]

      And you know, nearly three years later, my [slashdot.org] opinions [slashdot.org] on it remain... exactly the same.

      It'd be cool to see it succeed, but it's basically trying too hard to be a jack-of-all-trades. It offers a bunch of cool toy features, many of which will likely make a small portion of the user base absolutely delighted (things like concert ticket listings, for example). Unfortunately, it does so at the cost of many features that a large potion of the potential user base cares about, such as syncing with music players, maintaining a reasonable memory footprint, keeping the UI light and responsive, and improving the speed and ease with which people can manage their music libraries.

      This is becoming a (disheartening) pattern:
      1. Open source competitor arrives to challenge closed-source market leading freeware. /. and CNet publish headlines like "$SOFTWARE killer?" We brag about how it's awesome for allowing us to do $GEEKY_FEATURE.
      2. Normal users point out that it doesn't yet provide $BASIC_FEATURE. Geeks point out that 1) users don't really want $BASIC_FEATURE, and they should instead use $GEEKY_SUBSTITUTE. 2) $BASIC_FEATURE will be included at some point in the future.
      3. Normal users ignore the app, as it doesn't do the basic things they require.
      4. Time passes. Development moves on with no unified focus. More geek features are added to the program. Eventually $BASIC_FEATURE appears.
      5. User points out that the app's implementation of $BASIC_FEATURE is not an improvement on the existing solution, and that it is hard to find amidst a mass of misc. features.
      6. Geeks cry "But it's an open source alternative to $MARKET_LEADER!"
      7. Normal users ignore it because it still doesn't do $BASIC_FEATURE particularly well, and the UI is cumbersome.

      Enter Songbird. Three years after its first release, it doesn't support two popular MP3 players from the leading company. Its UI has been redesigned at least twice, and is now even less familiar to users than its first release was. It doesn't look like a native app, and on top of all that, it consumes more memory than it's closed source competitor.

      I really would like Songbird to succeed, but at this point I can't honestly say that it's any better than (or even as good as) iTunes.

  • Themes? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by g0es (614709)
    Why do i want themes? I would much rather have a clean simple music player. Though having a music player that automatically scan a specific folder for new music is useful if your music libary changes all the time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ElMiguel (117685)

      Why do i want themes? I would much rather have a clean simple music player

      Because people disagree on what "clean simple" means. If the UI is not themeable and you don't like it, you have to switch to a different player altogether. If it is themeable, you just need to switch to a different theme.

      • Re:Themes? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Snowblindeye (1085701) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:04PM (#25668249)

        Because people disagree on what "clean simple" means. If the UI is not themeable and you don't like it, you have to switch to a different player altogether. If it is themeable, you just need to switch to a different theme.

        I don't buy that. Does skinning really achieve that? I don't think I've ever seen a skin that really improved usability. Or really changed it much.

        And most people, especially average users, go with the default skin anyway. IMHO, skinning just slows things down, and it often breaks with the UI standards.

      • Re:Themes? (Score:5, Funny)

        by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday November 06, 2008 @08:11PM (#25669187)

        If the UI is not themeable and you don't like it...

        ...then you're pretty fucking stupid for continuing to use OS X at all, because iTunes is just like every other damn OS X application!

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Shivetya (243324)

          Really?

          I always felt that iTunes was to OS/X as what Microsoft Office was to Windows. It looks close but has features/layouts that may show up in future OS releases.

      • Re:Themes? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday November 06, 2008 @08:35PM (#25669465) Homepage

        What you're saying makes sense to me, but I've never seen it work out that an application being "themeable" was a particularly good thing. With a lot of programs, I feel like making the UI highly configurable really ends up being an excuse for the developer to not spend a lot of time making a good default UI. It's like, "Meh, I don't want to spend time making it usable or pretty, so I'll just make it so someone else can figure out how to make the UI good." And then no one else does.

        Even if there's an active theming community, you usually end up with thousands of themes to sort through, 5 of which are moderately good, but none of them integrate well with the OS. And then, if you're slightly neurotic like I am, you end up constantly looking for a new, better theme, when all you really want is something that doesn't feel jarring when you switch to another application.

        I admit that a lot of this is just my opinion, but all I'm trying to do here is voice my opinion. For me, the only time theming makes sense is when you can theme the entire OS thoroughly and consistently so that all applications match. I don't just want clean and simple, I also want consistent. The qualms I have had with the iTunes interface have been when they've chosen to give it nonstandard interface elements.

      • Re:Themes? (Score:4, Informative)

        by coaxial (28297) on Friday November 07, 2008 @04:27AM (#25672889) Homepage

        Bullshit.

        Themes are an excuse to create completely no-standard UI, round windows, that a branded with tiny low contrast controls and giant pictures of either latest movie, latest hot girl, or better yet, the latest hot girl in the latest movie.

        UI is hard, and it's not for amateurs.

    • Re:Themes? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by boshi (612264) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:56PM (#25668125) Homepage
      I think very few themes actually contribute to the usability of a program. Most of the time I look at an archive of themes for a program it's flooded with various nearly-unusable pictures-of-bikini-girls-made-into-interfaces type themes.
      On the rare chance I find a theme I genuinely like, it's for a slightly older version of the program and half of the elements are broken.
      When are developers going to admit that they should just stick to the OS's GUI toolkit? The user can then theme their entire window manager, instead of each individual program.
    • by mikael_j (106439)

      Because people like to ugly up their software.

      Personally I think one of the main reasons why Winamp themes became popular was because the basic theme for Winamp manages to be both boring and ugly, so pretty much everyone wanted something else. And back in the late '90s Winamp was the mp3 player (remember the days of running it on a spare DX2/66 and having to tune the settings so that those damn 128 kbps mp3s wouldn't skip?).

      /Mikael

    • Re:Themes? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Hatta (162192) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:12PM (#25668389) Journal

      I'm reminded of this comment sent to jwz [jwz.org]:

      Makali wrote:

                  Whenever a programmer thinks, "Hey, skins, what a cool idea", their computer's speakers should create some sort of cock-shaped soundwave and plunge it repeatedly through their skulls.

      I am fully in support of this proposed audio-cock technology.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      iTunes can already do this - or rather OSX can already do this FOR iTunes. It's called Applescript, and scripted folders. Build an Applescript that automatically moves new content to your iTunes library either instantly, or at a scheduled time (once a day, once a week - whatever). Put that folder in a handy place like on your desktop or in the sidebar, then just drop your tunes onto it and let Applescript do the rest for you. Applescript can do anything you can do yourself through the GUI. If you have a t
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jabithew (1340853)

      Why do i want themes? I would much rather have a clean simple music player.

      Bully for you. What you want does not necessarily provide a universal standard for us all to live by though.

  • Basic feature? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbearNO@SPAMpacbell.net> on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:38PM (#25667847) Homepage

    A feature as basic as monitoring a folder and adding the latest music files to the library is unavailable in iTunes

    I don't think of this as a basic feature... essentially you are asking for automated library updates whenever new files are added to the system. iTunes is built around two methods of file importation: Rip from CD or add from iTunes Store. The third option is manual: Drag and drop files to the library.

    Plugins [apple.com] are even listed at Apple's website.

    Themes are missing, I admit, but for many people this is not a "basic feature", either.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mallumax (712655)
      As far as I know, except for visualization plugins there are no true plugins. What is listed in Apple site are uitilities which exist outside of iTunes. Show me a plugin which adds a feature to iTunes and can be managed from iTunes ? iTunes is touted as a music management program. Most of us have a well structured Music folder. What if you buy DRM free MP3 music online ? Or free music available from indie bands ? You should be adding them manually to the iTunes library ? I don't think so.
      • Re:Basic feature? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:00PM (#25668185)

        No, the problem is just that you're dumb.

        If you use the Amazon MP3 Downloader (as I do) then simply include the top level folder.

        As your download finishes, iTunes automatically picks it up and it shows up. Artwork included, coverflow shows up.

        iTunes works very well at what it does. You are not the main stream audience, liking to think you're more technically advanced. I'm not sure how you can convince yourself and still miss such a basic feature that iTunes has had for ages, but hey, it's your label for yourself.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by 2starr (202647)
        Clearly you don't understand the parent poster (or are not really responding to it). "Folder actions" are an automatic way to run scripts (which in this case could add the music to iTunes).

        iTunes does not impose a directory structure or location on you, if you choose to have it not automatically structure things for you. So, it really doesn't matter what your music is or where you got it... indie or otherwise. :-)

        Discounting folder actions, if adding a file to the iTunes library meant more than dragging

    • Re:Basic feature? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 2short (466733) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:53PM (#25668081)

      Why have to "import" at all? Why does every music player have to manage a "library"? I've got a file system. I've learned to use it to manage files in ways I like. Just let me do that.
      • Re:Basic feature? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lupis42 (1048492) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:36PM (#25668727)
        Because the filesystem doesn't do the two big things that "libraries" do, associate metadata and simplify searching.
      • Re:Basic feature? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday November 06, 2008 @08:15PM (#25669237)

        Why have to "import" at all? Why does every music player have to manage a "library"? I've got a file system. I've learned to use it to manage files in ways I like. Just let me do that.

        In that case, you want to use the Quicktime player, not iTunes.

  • iPod (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rogabean (741411) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:40PM (#25667875)
    It's not a replacement unless it can sync with and manage my iPhone and iPod.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sentry21 (8183)

      It's not a replacement unless I can use it to buy music, TV shows, movies, and iPhone apps and sync them to my iPhone.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Draek (916851)

        Then it's not a replacement for you.

        For the outstanding majority of people who don't buy music, TV shows, movies and iPhone apps however, it still is. Have fun in Apple-land, 'cause it seems you ain't getting away from it any time soon.

    • Re:iPod (Score:5, Informative)

      by ojustgiveitup (869923) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:45PM (#25668861)
      Amarok can sync both iPods and iPhones. It is therefore a replacement by your working definition.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BrokenHalo (565198)
        Amarok can sync both iPods and iPhones.

        So can Rhythmbox, Or gtkpod. Though I believe the iPod Touch requires a bit of messing around to get it to work...
  • by Drake42 (4074) * on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:40PM (#25667877) Homepage

    I like iTunes specifically because it doesn't waste my time with themes and skins and color choices. How cares what your music player looks like? How many times has an attractive woman looked at the customized UI for your software and thought "Wow. There's a guy I'd like to get it on with". (Answer: Zero)

    I'll grant that some competition might drive additional features into iTunes, but please please please can we stop acting like altering the UI of a program does anything even remotely useful?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:44PM (#25667935)

      I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of my awesome Barack Obama firefox theme.

    • by mallumax (712655)
      I was not advocating for themes. But choice is good. My firefox theme is the default one because it is really good now. But in the past I have used many other themes because I didn't like the default theme. Also I'm not advocating for feature creep but rather for plugins. I rather like the firefox model in that also. But some features like folder watching should exist in the client IMHO
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by shaper (88544)
        Choice is not always good. Consistency of interface is a big help for documentation and support. I have a hard enough time trying to help someone find the Windows XP control panel over the phone, because Windows lets you customize the appearance and location of Start menu items including the Control Panel. I basically tell them to click on the Start button and look for it. I could not imagine trying phone support for an application for which the entire UI could be changed in strange and inconsistent way
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:09PM (#25668321)

      This is the age old Linux argument.. "but, but, but... you get CHOICE!" The truth is, people don't want choices, they just want something that works.

      • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:35PM (#25668715) Journal
        What usually ends up happening with skins or themes, is the user selects one they like atheistically the best. Then they sit there in confusion. They can't figure out how to use the thing because the buttons are all shaped and colored strangely. They don't make good usability decisions. Heck look at myspace vs facebook for what you should and should not allow for themes. Myspace allows anything and as a result every one's page is ugly as sin and difficult to look at much less use, Facebook allows less ui modifications and is thus more usable.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Draek (916851)

        But the truth is, what works for one person may not work for somebody else. That's why the market for media players is so lively in Windows-land, despite Microsoft bundling WMP with the OS.

  • The Truth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trojan35 (910785) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:42PM (#25667901)

    The truth is, iTunes is an average music player. Though the UI is simple and good like most Apple products, it has lagged in features compared to music players available on Linux and Windows.

    The features it is missing are niche features. How many of these "more feature complete" players you are using have features like Genius playlists? Video podcasts? How many also seemlessly manage the songs on your mp3(iPod) player? Smartphones(iPhone)? How many offer iTunes music sharing/streaming on the local network? How many seamlessly integrate with the most popular music store?

    That's not even including the non-music features of itunes, such as syncing calendars, contacts, photos, applications, and songs with iPods and iPhones. It offers video podcasts, downloadable tv shows, and streaming internet radio.

    iTunes missing one feature compared to other players does not mean it has less features overall.

    • by mallumax (712655)
      Please check out the songbird player. It may not do everything you have listed but it does support quite a few
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Legion_SB (1300215)

      Monitoring your music folder for new songs is not a "niche" feature. It's an "everybody except iTunes manages to do this" feature.

      My wife doesn't understand why songs she downloads from somewhere other than iTMS won't just be "seen" by iTunes. Especially when, say, her photo library software, or ANYTHING ELSE media related, does exactly this.

      Absolutely nothing "niche" about such a simple, painfully obvious feature.

      The Zune software does it brilliantly.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        It's a feature I could add to iTunes with a three line AppleScript triggered by a folder action. It would be about five minutes work to do, but I haven't. Why? Because I have seen no need for it. Mind you, I get pretty much all of my new music from CD. If you are downloading music with Safari then you can set a folder action to add music to your library and have iTunes move it into the library folder when you download it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The features it is missing are niche features. How many of these "more feature complete" players you are using have features like Genius playlists?

      An apple specific feature (I know since I have a free ipod touch that came with my gf's mac). I know of plenty of music players that have things like inbuilt support for last.fm and magnatune.

      Video podcasts?

      Amarok and gtkpod have no issues handling these.

      How many also seemlessly manage the songs on your mp3(iPod) player? Smartphones(iPhone)? How many offer iTunes music sharing/streaming on the local network? How many seamlessly integrate with the most popular music store?

      Amarok works perfectly with my mp3 player. Why would I want my music on my communication device (no matter what flashy ads tell me) ? I don't buy my music from iTunes. Rhapsody works seamlessly.

      That's not even including the non-music features of itunes, such as syncing calendars, contacts, photos, applications, and songs with iPods and iPhones. It offers video podcasts, downloadable tv shows, and streaming internet radio.

      Typical apple user drivel. My phone syncs my google calendar, contacts,

  • by slifox (605302) * on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:42PM (#25667905)

    This may be a little off-topic, but I'd like to recommend mpd.

    mpd (music player daemon) is a minimalistic audio-playing server that can be accessed using a variety of clients, including those with command-line, web, and GUI interfaces.

    Separating the GUI from the core of the audio player increases stability and decreases the chance for problems. I've never once had the mpd core crash, even though the GUI clients do sometimes crash. When my X server dies for whatever reason, my music continues playing while I fix things!

    Additionally, you can do some very cool things, like copying or moving the mpd player state between networked computers. For instance, with the command 'mpmv desktop tvserver', I can move the currently playing song, the current position in the song, and the current playlist. With some occupancy sensors, your music can literally follow you around the house

    My favorite GUI client is QMPDClient. It has a very powerful music library interface, including a: playlist; a queue within the playlist (to jump around the playlist); library, directory, and playlist views, with artist/album/track views. This is excellent, because I keep my music directories well organized, so the "Directory" view lets me take advantage of this easily (a feature that I've not found in other music library clients).

    And yes, mpd does work on MacOS :)

    MPD: http://mpd.wikia.com/wiki/Music_Player_Daemon_Wiki [wikia.com]
    QMPDClient: http://havtknut.tihlde.org/qmpdclient/ [tihlde.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I like MOCP (Music On Console Player). I recently had to do music for a local skit night-type thing and I found it fast, unobtrusive, and hilariously scary to everybody who walked by. Number of kids who touched my laptop with that thing taking up the screen? Zero. :-)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by B1ackDragon (543470)

      Yes :-) Mpd is awesome. It also does icecast streaming, which is great coupled with a php based frontend.

      Finally, there's an iPhone client (mpod) which is pretty good.

  • Uhh... what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drhamad (868567) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:42PM (#25667911)
    We don't use iTunes because there's no credible competitor - we use iTunes because it links to the iPod and/or the AppleTV and/or Front Row. brFurther, I don't understand why people always whine about "not monitoring a folder for library changes." Who cares? I mean, apparently some people do, because they whine about it... but the iTunes Library is your music manager, not your OS folders. Treat it that way and monitoring a folder becomes irrelevant.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EvilIdler (21087)

      OK, if iTunes is your music manager, why is it not managing your music? That's why people want automatically updating folders. See new file, add to library, silently. We've had inexpensive filesystem monitoring for years, and we know OS X has pretty good control over what files exist on your system.

      • The UNIX Way (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SuperKendall (25149)

        OK, if iTunes is your music manager, why is it not managing your music?

        Why do you think iTunes is not managing your music?

        That's why people want automatically updating folders. See new file, add to library, silently. We've had inexpensive filesystem monitoring for years, and we know OS X has pretty good control over what files exist on your system.

        Because many things in OS X do things the UNIX way - do one simple thing well. Why should my MUSIC PLAYER be doing crazy things like watching a folder?

        No, instea

  • Folder actions (Score:5, Informative)

    by MushMouth (5650) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:42PM (#25667913) Homepage

    There is a simple way to automatically add items to iTunes, set up a folder actions script. Its simple, it works with anything, and its built in.

  • I just want something that will let me drag and drop my music onto my device.
  • by djkitsch (576853) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:45PM (#25667959)
    Is it just me, or does Amarok appear to be damn ugly? I'm sure the functionality rocks, but it looks pretty typical of work-in-progress Linux apps in that it's in need to a good GUI designer...

    Is there more to it than what you see in the author's screengrab?

    Also, I'm with "rogabean" further up - it's not a true iTunes replacement 'til it can deal with my iPhone. Until then, it's just duplicating an already-running app.
    • I find Amarok functionally awful too. Calling the main menu "Engage" is corny. But that's not the problem. It insists on showing a visualizer, by default, which is gimmicky and pointless, especially considering I use it under VNC. I can't figure out how to disable it in the Ubuntu packaging. It has a bunch of list windows, some of which have a search function, some of which don't, and the use of them is inconsistent. It always loses items I've added to its radio function when I close it. The only reason I u

  • Songbird (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cthefuture (665326) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:48PM (#25667989)

    I have been using Songbird for about a year now. I really like it. Yeah it's kinda fat but no worse than iTunes. It's cool to have all the media integrated like it is. On audio-related websites it will automatically bring up a list of tunes from the web page and you just click to play/stream/download (handy for the various audio blogs). Shoutcast plug-in, Last.Fm plug-in, album art plug-in, all sorts of stuff.

    Really it's my favorite choice on Linux (now if someone would get FireTray working correctly for it). It has iPod support but I haven't tried it.

  • VLC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by boshi (612264) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:01PM (#25668205) Homepage
    It seems a bit unfair to say that iTunes has had no competitors under Mac OSX as a music player when VLC does an admirable job at playing my music and TV shows, on OSX, and has done for a long time now.
  • No Banshee for OS X? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheModelEskimo (968202) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:03PM (#25668237)
    Is Banshee available for OS X? There's one player I'd still want to use if I ever bought a Mac. It feels just simple enough to be usable, but is also very powerful and unbloated.

    However, Songbird and Amarok are both pretty fantastic.

    The other Linux music-related app I've seen Mac users drool over very recently is LMMS. This is basically a Fruityloops clone that is mainly used by Windows and Linux people so far. It should run on a Mac but there's no Mac maintainer, just a bunch of source code sitting around. Pretty amazing piece of software with a fast dev cycle and awesome features.
  • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:03PM (#25668243) Journal

    Monitoring a folder is something you can script [dougscripts.com]. Slashdotters ought have no problems with this...

    Applescript (weird, english-like language that it is) is actually pretty powerful - Apple do make an effort to open up their apps for scripting, even though they're really GUI apps, and it's a really under-used feature. Shame.

    Simon

  • Amarok! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xrayspx (13127) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:04PM (#25668255) Homepage
    Amarok has lost its main advantages (for me, personally) over iTunes in the 2.0 release.
    1.4.x has:
    -- Selectable fields (columns) in the playlist, you can select "last played time", which is great for weeding out stuff you've just heard in the last couple of days. iTunes has this, Amarok 1.4 had this, now Amarok 2 doesn't, and I personally miss it.
    --SQLite collection.db, which allows you to very easily write applications which query your collection. Now they use an internal MySQL DB, which I'm sure I can move wherever and re-attach, but now I get to rewrite my stuff to use mysql instead of sqlite.

    IMHO a music collection is the perfect vehicle for flat file DBs, my SQLite Amarok DB is like 11MB, for about 1500CDs. However, for Album Cover grabbing, it still WASTES iTunes, since it uses Amazon, and Amazon has way more CDs than iTunes does. Lyrics and Wikipedia integration are great, Last.FM integration is great.

    Very happy to see this in a native package, I haven't run the latest from Rangerrick, I've been waiting for it to be Official. It's looking great on my SuSE desktops though.
  • Folder monitoring? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sxltrex (198448) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:08PM (#25668311)

    A feature as basic as monitoring a folder and adding the latest music files to the library is unavailable in iTunes.

    According to Songbird's site, it doesn't support folder monitoring either. It also doesn't support iPhones, the iPod Touch, Airtunes, CD ripping (?), or video. I forget, why would I choose it over iTunes?

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:12PM (#25668383)
    Don't even think of trying to run this on your iPhone. Remember, Apple doesn't like competing applications.
  • by vux984 (928602) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:12PM (#25668385)

    The truth is, iTunes is an average music player.

    itunes is significantly better than average.

    A feature as basic as monitoring a folder and adding the latest music files to the library is unavailable in iTunes.

    How exactly is that a basic feature? Music enters itunes 3 basic ways:
    1 you rip a Cd with itunes.
    2 you buy a song from itunes music store
    3 you drag a file from your computer onto the itunes library
    and one advanced way:
    4 you tell itunes to import music from a folder

    Setting up itunes to monitor a folder would be number 5, and in the 'advanced feature' category.

    Secondly, how exactly do the "latest music files" get into this monitored folder? If you manually dragged them there, then you might as well have just manually dragged them onto the itunes window. If they arrived there through any other means, that just further underscores that its an advanced feature.

    There are no plugins

    That is certainly not a basic feature either. And its probably the ONLY thing I sort of agree with.

    I'd like iTunes to support automatically syncing with non-Apple players. I'd like iTunes to support syncing with programs other than Outlook on Windows.

    [There are no] themes.

    I call that a feature. I'm not 13 anymore. I am happy to let my programs to feature well designed UI, without delegating the task to other 13 year olds who variously have an unhealthy fascination with celebrities, movies, or just want everything to be some sort of gothic red and black. If anything, I think iTunes on Windows should look MORE like a windows app.

    Despite the many faults, many of us continued to use iTunes because of the lack of options available.

    Its few faults and many strengths actually. The biggest advantage it has over other players is that it works with =all= ipods/iphones seamlessly.

    Songbird: An open source music player which has been in the works for more than 2 years has finally released its 1.0 Release Candidate builds. The team behind Songbird has members who previously developed for both Winamp and the Yahoo Music Engine.

    Hardly a ringing endorsement if you look at either of those products.

    It has support for extensions and themes ('feathers' in Songbird parlance).

    Right, because inventing non-standard gimmick terminology is always a good idea. I'm glad Thunderbird has addons not 'feathers' and firefox...? 'hairs'? 'teeth'? Spare me.

    Amarok: The undisputed champion among Linux music players is finally coming to OS X, thanks to due KDE 4 being ported to OS X. Amarok developer Leo Franchi has been able to run a Amarok on OS X natively. So we can expect a reasonably stable Amarok to hit OS X in a few months' time.

    'reasonably stable' with a KDE4 look on OSX? Yeah that's going to create an army of converts.

    Hopefully these players will gain traction among OS X users,

    They won't. They will make a very small niche (self)-satisfied. That's not a bad thing, per se, mind you, but don't make more out of it than is really there.

    which will finally force Apple to either step up in terms of features or open up iTunes for extensions."

    See above. It won't. Even though I really do want iTunes to work with Thunderbird instead of Outlook...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dhalka226 (559740)

      itunes is significantly better than average.

      Why? It's mediocre as a music player. A list with a little display and some controls at the top? Color me impressed! Every music player has this. That's what makes it a music player at all.

      The only advantages it has are its tight integrations with iPods and iTunes Store, which is hardly impressive when you consider that's why Apple bothers with it at all. (As an aside, I've always found the store integration felt clunky--but that's neither here nor there.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by telbij (465356)

        A list with a little display and some controls at the top? Color me impressed!

        You blew your argument right at the beginning. I stopped reading because this is mind numbingly retarded. I see two possibilities here:

        A) You really do think this is all iTunes has, in which case you are incapable of actually evaluating software and your opinion is not valid.

        B) You measure quality of software by quantity of shiny controls exposed directly in the visual interface. If that's the case, then you should see no reason for Apple to exist at all, as both Windows and LInux deliver considerably mo

      • by vux984 (928602) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @10:16PM (#25670499)

        You're kidding, right? Most of us have some sort of music or mp3 directories, potentially with any number of subdirectories under it for organization. Personally I have mp3/[Genre]/[Artist] and potentially /[Album] if I ripped the whole thing rather than downloaded particular songs. I'm going to put these files into this structure regardless of how it gets into my music player. To claim I should have just dropped it into iTunes itself is disengenuous fanboi rationalization. I don't want my music strewn all over my system, I want it in one place of my choosing. Of course having my player realize to look there periodically is better than it staring dumbly at me until I tell it to.

        Have you ever looked at what itunes does when you tell it to organize your library for you? When you just keep your hands off?

        songs/artist/album/song.mp3

        if its part of a compilation its:
        songs/compilations/album/song.mp3

        hardly disorganized. Trivial to find anything if you ever need to do it manually. But you don't ever need to. It may not be what you would have chosen but so what? iTunes makes it trivial to sort by genre or artist or whatever you like... if I type 'card' into itunes quick search, it instantly pulls up the Cardigans track from the Romeo+Juliette sound track, along with its appearnace on a compilation disk I got free with some jeans. So the fact that they aren't together on the disk doesn't affect me. I can also browse by album, artist, genre, and trivially filter them.

        I can define smart playlists that track how and when I've listened to track and sync it onto my ipod based on that. When I sync my ipod, it automatically rotates a chunk of music I like but have listened to recently with music I like but have not, while keeping my favorites on at all times. I can rerate tracks on the ipod itself, and it syncs back to itunes... etc, etc, etc.

        Face it its an above average music player.

        The truly sad part about your comment is that Apple could probably have this "advanced" feature added in two hours of work.

        I agree they could. They could also add all sorts of pointless dangley bits and features to satisfy people like you, but then it wouldn't be the simple elegant app that it is. I'm not saying your feature idea is bad, but its pretty necessary. Especially since, on OSX at least, its relatively trivial to write an applescript to do what you want here.

        You're right. Downloading or ripping the music directly into a destination folder is voodoo magic.
        ripping music? itunes does this for you. why would you use 2 pieces of software for this?
        downloading music? you mean using a torrent or something? Yeah, because dragging it to the itunes window is the hard part.

        Congratulations. I'm happy you like people making your UI decisions for you, but not everybody agrees. To insult them by pretending that must mean they're 13-year-old goths or have "unhealthy fascination[s]" just makes you an asshat. Period.

        I take it you haven't browsed the extensive library of Winamp themes?
        http://www.winamp.com/skins/browse/2 [winamp.com]

        Take a good hard look, find me one that's objectively better than itunes from an HCI perspective among their top rated? hell, find one anywhere on the site.

        I think gimmick terminology is stupid too, but now could you possibly nitpick for no good reason any more than this? It has to be some sort of a record.

        I'm sure I wouldn't have mentioned it if it hadn't been in the summary. That the submitter felt it important enough to mention is what made it important enough to rebut.

        At the end of the day I think its great that amarok and songbird are available for OSX; I don't even think it shouldn't be on slashdot... I just don't agree with the submitter with respect to the relative merits of itunes vs the new comers.

  • by ars (79600) <assd2&dsgml,com> on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:21PM (#25668485) Homepage

    How is Amarok the undisputed champion when it reportedly it can't handle massive playlists? (I haven't tried it myself, but that's what I'm reading.)

    I'm looking for a linux player that can handle thousands of songs, and ideally would allow me to rate each song as I hear it.

    I tried Audacious, but it had so many bugs it was unusable (it kept loosing the playlist, or using 100% cpu, or deleting all the prefs). I tried juk but it's playlist was far too annoying to use - I want it to play all the songs, not stop at the end of an album just because I happen to be looking at the album playlist.

    So, any suggestions? I'm using xmms right now, which works fine, but is discontinued (and doesn't have the rating feature, or an easy way to search for songs).

    Anyway, I'd like to use amarok - it looks like it has all the features I want, except being able to handle thousands of songs.

  • by diamondsw (685967) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:44PM (#25668845)

    ...when it came out. And it trounced it. That was back when said competition had themes, visualizers, and a host of features iTunes didn't. iTunes, on the other hand, is excellently designed software, and killed off Audion and others.

    Songbird and Amarok will fail utterly on the Mac. Songbird will use the same non-native XUL engine that Firefox and Thunderbird use with far fewer benefits, and Amarok will be QT-based, which in many cases looks and feels even less native than XUL. Neither will have any platform integration with the huge number of iTunes addons, scripts, widgets, etc. And of course, neither of them will work with the iPod, let alone the iTunes Music Store (if you care for such a thing).

  • media format support (Score:3, Informative)

    by dexotaku (1136235) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @08:54PM (#25669709)
    Pretty much the only issue that keeps me from using iTunes is the lack of format support.

    My music/recording collection [I am occasionally a sound recordist among other things] contains tracks in mp3, mp4, OGG Vorbis, FLAC, Wavpack, AC3, DTS, MPC, and a few other formats. iTunes under Windows supports only 2 of those formats for playback, let alone transcoding/conversion. I'll admit that I'm hardly the average user, but even for basic use iTunes simply doesn't cut it for me.

    The other thing I'd like to see more players support is Replaygain, which, unlike Apple's volume levelling function, actually works properly for most material put through it.

    Foobar2000 [even with it messy archaic default interface] is leagues better than either iTunes or Amarok in terms of format support, tag editing, transcoding .. better in every sense other than the default GUI, in fact.

    I've been watching Songbird with interest for quite a while; for me it has the potential to replace fb2k if people write format support plugins for it.
  • by OgGreeb (35588) <og@digimark.net> on Thursday November 06, 2008 @09:18PM (#25669965) Homepage

    I really need any or all of these apps to support hard links or symbolic links/aliases -- I have sometimes 4.. 5.. 6 different files of the same version of a song when it is included in collections, movie soundtracks, etc.

    Being able to specify multiple album memberships for the same track is a killer need.

  • by qazwart (261667) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @09:52PM (#25670299) Homepage

    Back in the days the software was known as SoundJam MP, iTunes had all sorts of skins and UI enhancements.

    When Jeffrey Robbins, the creator of SoundJam moved to Apple, all of those exotic features were stripped off of SoundJam MP. Instead, the UI was vastly improved and the whole project was relabeled iTunes.

    And, that's why iTunes is so successful. It is simple and easy to operate. You put in a CD, and almost magically, the music is now in your iTunes library. You go to the iTunes store, click a button, and there it is in iTunes.

    We heard many of the same complaint with the iPod when it first came out. The iPod had no microphone, it didn't have a radio, there was no slot for a memory card. You couldn't use it as a recorder. All it could do was play MP3s. It will never sell!

    But, sell it did. What Apple had demonstrated time and time again is that features don't sell. Simplicity and elegance do. There are plenty of high end packages for Mac OS X -- including SoundJam's main competitor Audion (Freely downloadable from Panic's website). However, Apple's solution is to ignore the dross and concentrate on usability.

    For more information, see the story of Audion at .

  • by Money for Nothin' (754763) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @10:03PM (#25670405)

    I've used Songbird on OSX, because it's the next-best thing to Winamp on the OS. iTunes is tolerable, but I hate the way it organizes music and -- in characteristic Apple style -- is inflexible about letting the user customize its behavior.

    Unfortunately, Songbird (0.7, anyway) uses about 2-3x the RAM that iTunes does. It's slower to load MP3s than iTunes. It searches the library and playlists more slowly than iTunes (even after they somehow improved its behavior from an even-worse search design). And it can't play all MP3s -- that's right, I have MP3s in my library that Songbird simply won't play. Why? Beats me -- they play just fine in iTunes and Winamp.

    And then there's music-player device interop. Let me know when I can sync music with my Windows Mobile phone (over Bluetooth, or wi-fi, or (god forbid) ActiveSync)...

    Songbird has potential, but it needs to lose weight and refine its technique before it can fly with the big birds. (Sorry, couldn't help myself...)

  • by Aphoxema (1088507) * on Thursday November 06, 2008 @11:15PM (#25671067) Homepage Journal

    I think open source contenders are failing to understand the mentality of the average Mac user, the ones that put them in the powerful position they are.

    Apple wants you to 'Think Different', but not freely. They want you to think differently than Windows, but more like Apple everything.

    Many people accept this, they get drafted into a specific process and the only efficient way to use OS X is to do it the way Apple intends for you to, but it's DAMNED EASY to work with and that's incredibly easy to appreciate.

    Open Sourcers want freedom, options, the preemptibility that if there comes a point when something needs to change, it can be done. Mac users don't want that, they don't need it. They want their shit to work, and if you eliminate the variables, it almost always will.

    Expecting Apple to open up is like expecting McDonalds to eliminate their fatty foods; What they're doing now is working for them INCREDIBLY WELL, ethics are a hard thing to propose when the process in indisputably effective.

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