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iTunes On OS X Finally Has Competition

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the file-managers-that-also-play-music dept.

Media 668

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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668 comments

Lacking Support (5, Insightful)

almostinsane (770051) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667809)

Apple iPhones, iPod Touch and Microsoft Zune devices are not yet supported. Yeah, big contender.

Why is there a browser in the music player? (-1, Flamebait)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668111)

Apple iPhones, iPod Touch and Microsoft Zune devices are not yet supported. Yeah, big contender.

So don't get a retarded proprietary music player*. Also I guess they never claim to be a manager for your music players, it's an application for playing music on your computer.
* It's not their fault you don't think before you buy.

From the features page of their web page:

Web Browser
Songbird includes an integrated web browser with features like bookmarking, tabbed browsing, and more.

Anyway, what I really would like to know is why the fuck they thought it was a good idea to put a browser in the application by using mozilla code?!!
To show the lyrics or what?

Kind of say enough about the developers than they thought that was a good idea because it was possible, un-focused bloatware.

I doubt I'll start to use it thanks to that "feature."

Re:Why is there a browser in the music player? (4, Interesting)

Jabbrwokk (1015725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668307)

what I really would like to know is why the fuck they thought it was a good idea to put a browser in the application by using mozilla code?!!

So they can someday build in a storefront/catalog browser? Like how iTunes appears to use some kind of hybrid Safari browser for the iTunes store? Or like how Steam uses Internet Explorer for its storefront and catalog browser? Just a thought.

Force Apple?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25667831)

Since when has Apple cared about software competition? Especially if the competition can't play Protected AAC?

Re:Force Apple?! (3, Informative)

von_rick (944421) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667977)

specially if the competition can't play Protected AAC?

As the most overused phrase of 2008 says, "Yes we can."

Two words and a hyphen love; in Linux world we call it

libxine-extracodecs

Themes? (2, Insightful)

g0es (614709) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667841)

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:Themes? (3, Insightful)

ElMiguel (117685) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668069)

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? (5, Insightful)

Snowblindeye (1085701) | more than 5 years ago | (#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? (2, Insightful)

diamondsw (685967) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668335)

Themes do nothing to "clean" or "simplify" the interface. They just apply a mishmash of bitmaps to it - almost always hideously ugly ones.

Re:Themes? (5, Insightful)

boshi (612264) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668125)

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.

Re:Themes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668139)

Scanning selected folders for files automatically is, more or less, considered a standard feature of a music player now.

Themes are more of an extra, I have to admit, though.

Personally, ITunes needs to figure out what to do with their interface and sync features (though they may have fixed a few things since my last use of them).

To someone used to drag and drop directory structures, ITunes makes it hard to tell A> What is currently on the IPod B> What is going onto the IPOD C> What happens to anything on list A that isn't on list B?

I've seen a lot of people have to reset up their playlist because ITunes didn't add the new songs onto their IPod but replaced everything on it with the new list.

ITunes doesn't need _many_ new features as much as they need some user friendliness.

Re:Themes? (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668161)

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? (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668469)

I do remember (fondly even) the old days of Winamp though I never have liked skins, but hadn't Pentiums been out for most of the 90s? That DX2 would have been pretty long in the tooth by the time of winamp i think :)

Re:Themes? (5, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668389)

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.

Basic feature? (5, Insightful)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667847)

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:Basic feature? (1)

iteyoidar (972700) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667927)

There's an "add folder to library" option which is how I manage my library. Keeping track of what files are in those folders would fit in with this.

Re:Basic feature? (2, Insightful)

mallumax (712655) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668007)

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? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Basic feature? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668231)

iTunes also has player plugins.

Or did you think that the Creative players just connected to it via magic and it just "knew" what the player looked like, generated an icon for it, and displayed that next to the device label?

I have an ancient 6 GB Jukebox that predates the release of the iPod. It comes with instructions to make it work with SoundJam (you know, the one that was made by Cassidy and Greene before Apple poached C&G's dev team and had them build iTunes). It still works with the current version of iTunes. The batteries are dead, though.

Re:Basic feature? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668401)

1) Download music into your usual Download folder/Desktop.
2) Drag downloaded files/folder onto iTunes.
There is no 3).

What's so complicated about this? iTunes even neatly orders the files in the Library folder by artist name and album. Or are you always doing that manually and expect iTunes to pick up on it? Than my question would be WHY?

Re:Basic feature? (4, Insightful)

2short (466733) | more than 5 years ago | (#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? (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668391)

A fair amount of the information presented in the application's UI depends on metadata that is not necessarily represented in the filesystem.

Since most of my "media library" is my own creation (I'm a songwriter/composer/musician), I have a naming convention that identifies my work from the directory and filename. iTunes basically strips this info, making it pretty useless for me. Basically, *everything I do* ends up in iTunes' "Unknown Artist, Unknown Album" category, even though the directory and original filename carry everything I want to know about the recording. It tends to be pretty frustrating.

Re:Basic feature? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668405)

But then we cant sort it for you, or prevent you from using it illicitly, or suggest other things we think you should listen to (like the latest Britney single)...

Without us to show you the way, you would be forever lost, my child.

-The Man

Re:Basic feature? (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668415)

Well ideally, it shouldn't have to import at all; instead it should create a library by 'linking' to those files in those directories. Unfortunately, this can slow down search and shuffle functions since it has to search the file system for those files and if the directory structure is corrupted in anyway (yes yes, thats mostly a Windows issue), its even more problematic. Having them all in one place simplifies it and forcing the user to use the applications file system makes it a bit more inconvenient for them to switch to another application.

Re:Basic feature? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668493)

That's actually my main complaint with Amarok, which I really like otherwise. This idea of keeping track of a music "collection" makes it slow and inefficient at what I would consider the basic use for a digital music player program: opening a music file and playing it.

Re:Basic feature? (1)

JimNTonik (1097185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668463)

Songbird lists the "add new files in this folder to my library" feature as "coming soon" - so I'm not sure how songbird is "better" than iTunes in this respect. Out of the list of features in the summary, skins is the only addition... so this boils down to whether or not you wants skins. Of course, if it's a closed- vs open-source question, then that can be discussed as well, but it wasn't raised in the summary. Of course, competition is awesome, and I'm happy to see it coming to OS X - I just don't think the OP did a good job of summarizing the changes.

iPod... (1, Interesting)

GenP (686381) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667855)

I just wish Apple hadn't gimped the iPod by not providing a filesystem browser :(

iPod (5, Insightful)

rogabean (741411) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667875)

It's not a replacement unless it can sync with and manage my iPhone and iPod.

Re:iPod (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668005)

For the phone, you're out of luck. However, for the iPod (depending on how new it is) you might wanna check out rockbox.

Re:iPod (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668235)

And of course only Apple is allowed to provide iPod/iPhone sync software. How convenient.

And people call Microsoft a monopolist.

Re:iPod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668449)

I sync my iPhone and iPod using amarok...

Re:iPod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668487)

As far as I know both of those applications do that.

Feature Creep is not a Feature (5, Insightful)

Drake42 (4074) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667877)

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?

Re:Feature Creep is not a Feature (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25667935)

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

Re:Feature Creep is not a Feature (1)

taucross (1330311) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668027)

It looks good.

And if you look good, you feel good. Sure, changing my UI won't bag me women, but changing my clothes might. Function and form are inseparable. It's the reason we use whitespace in code, and shiny packaging for everything. But you already knew that, didn't you.

Re:Feature Creep is not a Feature (1)

mallumax (712655) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668085)

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:Feature Creep is not a Feature (1)

cabjf (710106) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668095)

But other music players are doing it. Come on, give it a chance, I bet you'll like it.

Seriously though, of all the features that iTunes could have, those were the two examples the submitter came up with? A useless UI feature and something only useful to a small segment of users (those who can't use the add music feature).

Re:Feature Creep is not a Feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668207)

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?

That's analogous to: Who cares how your room is painted? How many times has a girl come over and decided "Hey, I am NOT sleeping with a guy that has blue walls" (there by giving him blue balls... ok, bad joke...)

People live in work in their environments, and that includes computers. Scientific experiments and common sense show that your environment affects your happiness, creativity, and general well being. Brain stimulation is important. Also, routines (patterns) are bad for the brain, so by switching things up on your computer (theme's, layout, etc), just like switching objects around in your house or putting up new paintings, and altering your schedule, keeps your life fresh, interesting, and happy.

Considering how much time us geeks spend on our computers, mentally IN the computer and not in the ROOM, I think theme's are pretty damn important.

Re:Feature Creep is not a Feature (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668287)

Once, my Litestep desktop got attention from a chick, who I eventually slept with. So yeah. It happens.

Re:Feature Creep is not a Feature (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668291)

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)

Hey, speak for yourself.

Re:Feature Creep is not a Feature (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

I would care how it looks. (1)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668353)

Surely you know that there arepeople out there that are colour blind.

And that is just for starters.

Applications that are monolithic and unconfigurable will not serve properly many users.

Re:Feature Creep is not a Feature (0)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668377)

I like iTunes specifically because it doesn't waste my time with themes and skins and color choices.

If you don't want to skin your software, use the defaults. There is no increase in usability or value by not providing the option.

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)

If you base your software decisions on whether or not it'll help you have sex with attractive women, that's your problem. The rest of us make our decisions based on our preferences, and what we want to look at/use on a regular basis.

but please please please can we stop acting like altering the UI of a program does anything even remotely useful?

Not every feature is core functionality. That doesn't make it irrelevant. I suppose next you'll be arguing that we shouldn't bother trying to make attractive user interfaces, because it isn't "remotely useful", and should spend our time on pure functionality instead?

Re:Feature Creep is not a Feature (1)

StingRayGun (611541) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668387)

No it just wastes your time with coverflow and by requiring vast resources and being incredibly slow.

iTunes used to be my favorite music software, but aroudn version 6 it got really slow. At least on XP.

I use Windows Media Player on XP, Rhythmbox on Ubuntu. Windows Media player is fast, Rhythmbox isn't but I can't stand those silly sideways tabs in Amarok.

Music software should be able to do everything iTunes 5 could do as fast as winamp.

Now this: "please please please can we stop acting like altering the UI of a program does anything even remotely useful?"

I assume you meant users playing around with the interface, not the actual interface design. Right?

Re:Feature Creep is not a Feature (1)

whschwartz (785057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668403)

I'm with many others here. I like iTunes specifically because it doesn't have all the crap others do.

I want my player to do a few basic things.
1. rip cd's
2. allow me to buy music online.
3. play music on the mac/pc
4. sync music to my iphone/ipod
The only thing that would be nice for iTunes is the ability to buy from other online stores but that would hurt Apple's business model so not holding my breath there.

The Truth (5, Insightful)

Trojan35 (910785) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:The Truth (1)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668071)

As someone who has been following the Songbird dev for a long time (And having contributed their fair share of bugs), I can say that it's a great player. The iPod support is very solid; the themes are not required; the plugins are actually useful; and it's just a damn nice thing to see it getting its due.

Re:The Truth (1)

mallumax (712655) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668145)

Please check out the songbird player. It may not do everything you have listed but it does support quite a few

Re:The Truth (3, Insightful)

Legion_SB (1300215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668165)

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:The Truth (2, Interesting)

slashdotlurker (1113853) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668327)

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, photos etc. Why would I give a rat's ass about whether it syncs with an ipod or not ? As to streaming internet radio, my ipod touch does not even support shoutcast, instead supporting crippled apps like Pandora etc. which do not give me any freedom in adding new streams. No wonder its collecting dust at home. Along with my gf's two month old mac.

Re:The Truth (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668381)

Let's see:
Ginus playslists? Amarok has had 'smart playlists' for a while now.
Video podcasts? That one I'm not sure about. Personally I hate podcasts of all types.
Seamlessly manage iPod/iPhone? Amarok can.
Music sharing/Streaming? Amarok has been able to do that for a couple years at least.
Integrated with a music store? Amarok has one of those too.

Now to the things iTunes doesn't have:
Extensions? Amarok has it.
Themes? Amarok has it.
Automatically update your library? Amarok does it.

Re:The Truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668477)

Let's see:
Ginus playslists? Amarok has had 'smart playlists' for a while now.
Video podcasts? That one I'm not sure about. Personally I hate podcasts of all types.
Seamlessly manage iPod/iPhone? Amarok can.
Music sharing/Streaming? Amarok has been able to do that for a couple years at least.
Integrated with a music store? Amarok has one of those too.

Now to the things iTunes doesn't have:
Extensions? Amarok has it.
Themes? Amarok has it.
Automatically update your library? Amarok does it.

Currently available for OSX? ooooh so close Amarok!

But seriously, let's wait for it to get here (as in the mac version) before we start trumping it as the winner.

Re:The Truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668447)

Never did understand what anyone likes about iTunes. The one time I tried it, it drove me nuts trying to figure out what it was trying to get me to do. It took up the entire screen (so I can't see/change songs while I'm in other programs). It requires 200 MB of disk space. My gf got an ipod touch, and iTunes was just a pain. It requires iTunes 7.6 or newer, which only installs on OSX 10.4. Doesn't work at all with 10.3.9. (Apple thinks you're supposed to upgrade your entire OS because of a silly music player???)

I still mostly use a copy of Winamp I had from 1998. It plays MP3 files, takes less than 1 MB of disk space, and folds into a tiny 200x10 pixel bar that takes up minimal space on my screen. If I want to "manage my library", I double-click on the directory containing the files and manage to my heart's content. If I want to "mangage the songs on my MP3 player", I plug it in the USB port and drag-and-drop files to the flash drive. I had set up my music on a computer at home with Apache where I wrote a couple small PHP scripts - I can browse from any other computer at home, and when I click a link it adds the URL to the MP3 to Winamp's playlist, and it happily streams the file across the network.

Sigh. I'm rambling. Guess my point is that with the exception of the "iPod" part of things (where iTunes use is mandated from On High), I've never seen it do anything I can't do better, more efficiently, and easier from other programs. But then again, I tend to find it easier to use the command line than a GUI anyways. Probably not your average user.

Try mpd (music player daemon) (5, Interesting)

slifox (605302) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Try mpd (music player daemon) (2, Funny)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668299)

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. :-)

Uhh... what? (4, Insightful)

drhamad (868567) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Uhh... what? (0, Troll)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668113)

I don't understand why people always whine about "not monitoring a folder for library changes."

Likely because those people are stealing music via torrents or Usenet and are too lazy to add newly arrived music to iTunes.

Re:Uhh... what? (0, Troll)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668325)

It seems like that's always the way to do it with Apple products; their way, or not at all. Personally, I enjoy being to choose (and switch between) manual and automatic management of my music.

Folder actions (5, Informative)

MushMouth (5650) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667913)

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.

Re:Folder actions (1)

D+iz+a+n+k+Meister (609493) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668013)

Indeed. What could be simpler?

Some crappy third party software constantly polling the filesystem for changes? Nice try iTunes haters.

Winamp (1, Flamebait)

theurge14 (820596) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667945)

"The team behind Songbird has members who previously developed for both Winamp"

Ah, I was wondering why 'skins and themes and monitoring a folder for new music' were considered missing features. Now I know the answer.

No thanks, guys. I consider simplicity a feature in a music player, not spending 3 minutes wondering where the 'Play' button went on some new skin made to look like Batman's tool belt or something.

Re:Winamp (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668373)

But that's the beauty of a skin. Peoples' definitions of "simplicity" vary. What if I want iTunes to match my OS's color scheme? No way to do that. *You* may like the default iTunes UI, but some people like their choices not to be made for them.

More like an alternative, too slow to compete. (1)

Seor Pelo (323921) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667957)

Blarg, last time I used it, it was horribly slow, and that was just a couple months ago. So unless they went through some amazing code changes that sped it up like crazy, I don't see it as being able to survive as competition. Maybe as an alternative for those who just hate itunes, but not competition.

Re:More like an alternative, too slow to compete. (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668471)

According to the songbird blog they have made a lot of speed improvements in the last little while.
# Reduced RAM Usage
# Reduced Startup Times
# Fewer Crashers
# Faster Media Importing
# Drastically Faster Search

Just a personal opinion, but... (2)

djkitsch (576853) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Just a personal opinion, but... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668149)

Agreed and this is my primary reason moving to the Mac. How well a GUI is laid out and how well it looks is a BIG deal to me. Believe it or not, it really helps me to keep moving on an otherwise very boring project.

Re:Just a personal opinion, but... (1)

ice_nine6 (1149219) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668177)

Well the most current release of Amarok is a KDE 3 application, which is why it's GUI looks dated. Amarok 2 for KDE4 should be out somewhat soon, and it will have a GUI update.

Re:Just a personal opinion, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668181)

When I read the OP I thought I'd have to install KDE to get Amarok. Now I know I'll only have to install mysql - manually. Much better.

Re:Just a personal opinion, but... (1)

crunch_ca (972937) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668443)

All I usually see of Amarok is the little wolf icon in the panel, which actually gives a lot of information (like the state of the player, the time remaining), etc.

For me, this is great. Unlike many players which always have a window open, Amarok is out of my face and takes up almost no screen real-estate.

One feature I love about Amarok is the "shuffle by album". Some albums are meant to be listened to in their entirety. Also, the fact that you can interact with the player through the command line (i.e. queue music etc.).

Re:Just a personal opinion, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668461)

Are you new to Linux?

itunes works by simplicity - and workarounds... (1)

solsang (1364595) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667983)

I specifically like itunes because it has /few/ settings and fully supports my ipod (touch) with adress book, calendar, bookmarks etc I just copied my osx ipod library onto my friends vista, merged the artwork folder into her old artwork folder and told itunes to add the new music folder, it works perfectly (albeit way slower on vista than osx;) But the dead rat was removing missing songs, as itunes still cannot sort by (!) so i selected all, in info set rpm to 42 and sorted by rpm, now the missing files were at one end, fully deletable;)

Songbird (2, Interesting)

Cthefuture (665326) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Coverflow Playlist - Or It's Songbird Equivalent (1)

VaticDart (889055) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668019)

One feature I found missing when Apple bought Coverflow was the ability to create a properly filtered playlist where Coverflow is actually useful.

I see that Songbird has something similar to Coverflow, but here's my question: can one create a playlist that meets such criteria as

1.) all tracks are tagged with track numbers (1 of 12, etc).

2.) all tracks are part of an album with at least x tracks.

And the long shot...

3.) all tracks are part of albums where all tracks of the album are present, so that if each track says there are 12 tracks in the album, but there are only 11 tracks from that album in the collection, that album is excluded.

I really preferred Coverflow before it was integrated into iTunes. Much more useful as a stand alone app as you could filter using criteria 1 and 2 above.

Re:Coverflow Playlist - Or It's Songbird Equivalen (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668199)

3.) all tracks are part of albums where all tracks of the album are present, so that if each track says there are 12 tracks in the album, but there are only 11 tracks from that album in the collection, that album is excluded.

Out of curiosity...why is that useful or desirable? Why are any of your points useful actually?

Not trying to be a smartass, I just really don't get why you would care about those things?

Another example of useless Apple-centricity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668059)

This is just another example of how Apple is a weighted sink on the entire open source community. Open source applications flow from Linux and Windows to Apple, but you NEVER see Apple applications flow back.

And Apple users ... (0, Flamebait)

slashdotlurker (1113853) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668159)

... pay a crap load of money for this barren an OS (which is inseparable from the hardware) while superior choices exist for free OS'es (that run on more hardware) and even Windows. Always thought apple users were status wh***s with a pathological desire to look hip to the frat boy/meaning of life empty-talk crowd with a complimentary membership of the Steve Jobs cult (while looking monumentally stupid to the technically proficient or even people with any common sense). This is just more evidence.

iTunes = Apple Storefront (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668169)

IMHO one of the main reasons for iTunes sucking is that it is more a storefront for Apple to sell music than a player. (Imagine what could those arrows point to instead of the song on the shop)

[webmonkey.com] has a very good article on this.
http://www.webmonkey.com/blog/The_Top_Ten_Reasons_iTunes_Sucks

VLC (5, Insightful)

boshi (612264) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668205)

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.

Linux dock (1)

circlingthesun (1327623) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668221)

Until I'm able at least dock songbird in linux I don't see myself using it. It's just one of those stupid little things that I simply cant live without.

No Banshee for OS X? (2, Interesting)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:No Banshee for OS X? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668445)

Yes, unstable releases of Banshee on OS X are available. I believe 1.4 will be released Monday.

http://abock.org/2008/10/20/cross-platform-thoughts-through-the-lense-of-banshee/

http://download.banshee-project.org/banshee/banshee-1-1.3.3.macosx.intel.dmg

Folder actions are your friend (4, Informative)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668243)

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! (2, Interesting)

xrayspx (13127) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668255)

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.

oh please (0, Flamebait)

workbench (875813) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668259)

Starting an argument by claiming that "iTunes is an average music player," then linking to an alternative that looks like a pixel-for-pixel rip-off of said application is a very poor way to make a point. Seriously.

The only "real" advantage I see here is support for Vorbis, and even still -- the reality is that 99.99% of users do not care -- or even know what it is, for that matter.

And as for Amarok... I don't know how much "sexy" there was in there previously, but if I was willing to put up with this sort of mess [cleinias.com] , I wouldn't be using a mac in the first place. A for effort, but I think I'll stick with iTunes, thanks...

Folder monitoring? (4, Insightful)

sxltrex (198448) | more than 5 years ago | (#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?

Man...these things just look like itune (1)

oktokie (459163) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668333)

This is stupid, when you can the original iTune for free, why would anyone want to use clone which happen to look like iTune. Try selling knock off against original for same price. The thing is, there is no lower prices than free can exist.
Good luck and please stop wasting time developing what has already been done.

Well... I wanted to believe... (1, Flamebait)

reddeno (155457) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668367)

But found the interface chunky and slow. It uses twice the RAM of iTunes and sounds like crap (when playing the same file in both).

Don't Even Think of the iPhone (2, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668383)

Don't even think of trying to run this on your iPhone. Remember, Apple doesn't like competing applications.

Allow me to break this down... (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#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...

Competition? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25668429)

Songbird may be coming along, but it still has a ways to go. Looking around the feature list, I don't see anything special. Sure, iTunes doesn't find concert tickets for me, but I can honestly say that was a feature I wanted in a music player/manager. CD ripping is still only in beta, as is the much vaunted watched folder feature (add me to the list of folks who don't get why that is such a necessary feature). Maybe in a couple more years this will be big enough to be noticed by Apple, but don't count on it anytime soon...

As for Amorak, you link to a blog entry in which one of the developers managed to get it to run on his Mac... woo hoo. As it requires mysql and KDE (close to 500 MB of downloads - talk about bloat...), this hardly seems like something the average user is going to turn to.

Don't get me wrong - competition is good. iTunes works well for me, but it doesn't fit everyone's model of what such a tool should do. However, if your goal is to prod Apple into implementing your favorite features into iTunes, these projects aren't going to do it. Why not file a feature request with Apple? They do read them...

I don't need a replacement (1)

TibbonZero (571809) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668483)

iTunes takes care of my iPhone, remote speakers, play (most) formats, show rentals, buying music, streaming music from my shared server, and managing my library just fine. Does it do that? If not, no thanks.

Amarok: The undisputed champion (4, Interesting)

ars (79600) | more than 5 years ago | (#25668485)

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.

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