Sometimes you'll be browsing the Web and you'll want to listen to some music. On other days you'll be listening to music and you'll want to look up some information on the Web. In the distant past, our grandparents had to have two different applications and switch between them. We are luckier. We have Songbird, a hybrid application that both manages your music collection and lets you browse the Web.
This is not as arbitrary a combination as the refrigerator with a built-in Web browser so you can frighten yourself with paranoid ramblings about high fructose corn syrup or BPA while you stuff your face. The Web is filled with music, and consuming music today almost requires a connection to the Web. For instance, Songbird comes with a number of plug-ins like Songkick's concert list. Once you set your location, it lets you know when artists you like are performing near your house. There are dozens of similar features that integrate music consumption with information consumption from the Web.
An open platform like this has many advantages over iTunes. Individual companies can create their own plug-ins, and they survive or fail based on their merits, not the whims of the inscrutable executives at Apple. There are plenty of neat Songbird add-ons from companies like Last.fm, 7digital, and Amazon, all designed to integrate their offerings with the browser. Last.fm, for instance, makes suggestions based upon what you're listening to.
Developing for Songbird is similar to developing for Firefox, but it's different enough that Songbird wrote one Web page, Porting Firefox Extensions, devoted to explaining that while both Songbird and Firefox share the same core from the Mozilla project, they add features differently. That is, many pages will render in exactly the same way, but the extensions can be quite different, especially when you're using the multimedia features that distinguish Songbird. In essence, you feel like you're in Firefox until you switch over to play music, at which point you feel like you're in a much more open, Web-enabled version of iTunes.
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