Songbird, the little music player/web browser mashup that everyone has high hopes for, has just released a new version: 0.5RC1. This is their first official release towards their goal of having 0.5 Final out later this month. This latest version offers some new features and improvements over version 0.4, including MTP Device Support for Windows users, a new Device API, and a new feature called "Media Views."
Windows users will appreciate the addition of MTP support in Songbird 0.5RC1. Most cell phones and portable media players integrate the MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) Spec, a Microsoft-devised set of extensions for transferring music files to and from portable devices. Songbird's latest release offers MTP Device Support via a new extension which lets you transfer, delete, and update files as well as create and manage playlists. You can also manage multiple media devices at once. Windows users who want to install this update will need to be running XP SP2 or higher with Windows Media Player 11 installed.
A second new feature for 0.5RC1 is a new Device API. With this, developers can add device support to Songbird. The new MTP support was built on this new API and the iPod Device Support extension is being ported over to it. Both developers and users are encouraged to leave feedback about device compatibility on the Songbird wiki.
Songbird ships with only two default views: a simple traditional playlist and a second playlist which has three filter panes across the top for choosing a subset of your music. However, now, a new feature called "Media Views" allows developers to create alternate graphical presentations for libraries and playlists. Essentially, this allows for the creation of new extensions that provided custom ways to display your music library. You can see one in action now - the new "Artist Detail List" extension was created using the Media Views feature.
Other new features and improvements include an improved shuffle algorithm, Mac keyboard shortcuts, improved RSS playlist support and parsing, an added "source" column to downloads playlist, and a new plugin notification for Linux users. (For the full list of the 200+ bugs that fixed, go here).
One of the complaints people have about Songbird (besides the slow development), is that it's still too buggy. So help them about by filing your issues, bugs, or crashes in Bugzilla so they can make the 0.5 Final version work even better.
You can download the latest release of Songbird here.