It’s raining media players in the Android ecosystem. All popular free, open source, and premium media players that we have cherished on the desktop are available for download in the Android Market. Well-known open source media player Songbird has an Android app too, and helps you sync with your iTunes and song library from the desktop.
Songbird comes also with a couple of interesting social features built right into the player. After the break, let us take a look how the media player can help making your on-the-go music experience awesome.
Songbird for Android is a ninja among the current crop of media players. In addition to being a cross platform compatible player, the app runs on smartphones and a hundred different gadgets. It’s a free app and works on devices with Android versions 2.1 and above.
On the Desktop
Getting the app to work on the desktop is easy – just grab the installer that is compatible with the OS your desktop is running and go through the familiar point and click installation.
The desktop version of Songbird offers two ways to sync with iTunes. You can either import all your iTunes songs and playlists ,or export all the songs that you add to the Songbird library back to iTunes. If you carry multiple smartphones or live in a household that uses both Android and iOS devices, the entire music library will always be in sync.
After selecting the addons that extend the functionality of the app further, you should be good to go. The media player will discover the connected Android device almost immediately after launch. However, you will have to connect the device in USB disk drive mode to manage songs and playlists.
The user interface design is similar to iTunes and it shouldn’t be long before you figure out how things work. The app allows you to sync upon launch, selective sync of songs and playlist and more. If you have photos in your mobile phone, those can be synced to the desktop as well. From the device screen, not only can you monitor the disk space available for storing music, but also to cap the maximum space available on the device for storing music.
On the Mobile
After a quick OTA installation, the app will be ready to use. If you have already connected it to the desktop in the disk drive mode, eject it or change the mode of connection to access the mobile app. On first glance, you will notice that Songbird doesn’t look like any other mobile media players we have seen so far.
The user interface is minimal and looks more like a file explorer than a media player. Songs are categorized based on the artist, album, genre and playlists have their own folder as well. Player controls are at the bottom of the screen and just above them we have playlist and social media icons.
Tapping on a category will list all the songs associated with it. If you have a lot of songs in the list, you can use the alphabet lister for fast scrolling. Every song listed has its metadata displayed as a byline. If you are viewing the lists of songs based on artist information, then from the same screen you can jump to all the albums that have been created by the same artist.
If the fast scrolling isn’t something for you, try searching for a song; songs will start to show up as soon as you start typing the keywords. When you start playing a song, the album art isn’t displayed immediately in the screen.
To access album art, swipe vertically from the bottom of the screen. Like the rest of the user interface, the album art screen too isn’t full of frills. I have seen media player apps going overboard when it comes to album art art display. Songbird displays thumbnail of the album art and the meta data scrolls across the screen. From this screen you can jump to a folder, repeat the song and shuffle the playlist.
The Social Layer
In addition to these standard features, there are two new unique ones that attract out attention. First is the option that allows you to pull images of the artist from the Flickr stream. Tap the Flickr icon on the top right corner and if there any images of the artist is available in the public domain you can view them all while listening to music. Once you turn this feature on, images will be displayed automatically as and when they are available for all the songs that you play. Neat!
Another cool feature is the Facebook integration. Quickly and easily ‘like’ any song and post to your wall by tapping on the Facebook icon sitting right next to the Flickr icon. You will have to log in to Facebook to access this feature, but you can do this without leaving the player.
Songbird also has matching home screen and lock screen widgets that display album art. Headset, bluetooth car audio and Last.fm support are available as well.
In my experience, I have found Songbird on the desktop to be a bit of a memory hog. Also, there aren’t any graphic equalizers to make the music sound better. Other than these small issues, the app is flawless and is a complete media player. Songbird for Android is the perfect media player for those looking for a performance with a serene interface.