Open-source Mozilla-based music player Songbird just announced a slew of new features including the long anticipated ability to get music onto the iPhone. But there's a catch. In the past, Songbird was unable to export to the iPhone, as Apple purposely encrypted the device to keep music files within their proprietary ecosystem. Meanwhile, Songbird has always had the ability to sync with iPods. For this workaround, rather than syncing directly to the iPhone, the player syncs to iTunes and allows for export and import from there. So why open both players rather than just iTunes? It's pretty simple. Cross platform and multi-device compatibility.

To the average user, multi-device compatibility and cross format file support is really only important when they've got a party full of people and an iPod full of unplayable files. Listening should be seamless, and this is not the case on any player. Still despite it's long flight full of crashes, Songbird is attempting to break music out its proprietary formatting silos and into our ears, where it belongs. It's obvious that those who've followed Songbird's road to 1.2 may be disappointed in this iPhone workaround. It certainly isn't the magic iphone integration Songbird users have been asking for, but for now, it's a working solution.While the player is perhaps still a potential iTunes competitor, the company is the first to admit that it's a long way off.

Additional features with the 1.2 release include automatic organization for library files, Last.FM radio play within the Songbird browser and a 10-band equalizer so users can tweak playback and frequency. The company appears to have fixed a number of bugs in this new release as well; however, although this may not be in as high demand as it once was, users are still waiting for CD ripping capabilities.

The disadvantages and advantages of an open source player of this magnitude are obvious. Building a community-based media player is a nebulous task to say the least. However, the advantage is that once the skeleton of the player is up, the community can contribute new features like this miniplayer as well as more simple additions like skins. To test out the new release download it here.