Banshee 1.4 hits the streets, packed with Awesome

The Banshee logo

After three months of hard work on feature additions, a slew of bug fixes, stability and performance improvements, and a small tangent on porting to Mac OS X, we have released Banshee 1.4 — the new stable series!

HTC G1/Android Support Out-of-the-box

Banshee Device Overview

Got a G1? Get a Banshee! Banshee is the first media player to offer a customized experience for the Android/G1 phone.

G1 Purchased Music Source

  • Synchronize or manually manage your media collection on your G1 phone
  • Cover art is fully supported on the G1
  • Import music you purchased through the Amazon MP3 store on the G1 in one quick pass

Additionally, if you try to delete music you purchased on the Amazon MP3 store without actually being in the special “Purchased Music” source, Banshee will not comply. This prevents accidental deletion of music you may not yet have backed up to your desktop computer. To remove purchased music from the device, do so from the “Purchased Music” source.

With the G1 + Banshee, an experience similar to what iPhone users enjoy is available.

Amazon MP3 Store + G1 + Banshee

A final note on the G1 support: because the Android platform is open source, I was able to easily figure out optimal ways of implementing Android/G1 support. For instance, I was unsure what the maximum cover art size should be on the device, so I just read the source. It was a nice for once to not have to reverse engineer or guess!

Banshee on Mac OS X

I wrote a bit about this already, but 1.4 ushers in a new era for Banshee! From now on, Banshee will always be officially released and maintained for Mac OS X, 10.4 and newer currently.

Banshee 1.4 on Mac OS X 10.5

Because this is the first release of Banshee on Mac OS X, we are calling it a beta quality technology preview. This means that there are some known stability issues, and certainly some missing features, but it’s good enough that we really encourage people to start trying it and filing bugs.

Some of the missing features for OS X (also known as “places where we are eagerly looking for new contributors”):

  • Hardware Backend
    Without a backend implementing interfaces in the Banshee.Hardware namespace, the OS X release does not feature any device support (no audio CDs, no digital audio players, no CD burning). For ambitious developers familiar with hardware APIs in OS X, following the HAL backend for Linux/FreeBSD is a great place to start!

  • Embedded Video
    Currently the Quartz video backend in GStreamer does not implement GstXOverlay. Work needs to be done to make this happen (even though obviously Quartz is not X11), or specific embedding can be done in Banshee itself. I’d prefer to see native GstXOverlay support however.

  • Screensaver/Power Management Inhibit
    In GNOME, this is implemented to prevent the system from sleeping or starting the screensaver when Banshee is in full screen mode (i.e. playing a movie).

  • Support for the Front Row/Apple TV remote
    This would just be a fun thing to write. Someone step up!

Finally, I have to give Eoin Hennessy a huge thanks for his work here again. Also to thank are the Songbird guys who have invested in making GStreamer usable on the Mac. We are looking forward to contributing in this space and working with Songbird, now that we are off the ground. What they have accomplished here is no small feat, not to be overlooked!

New API for customized mass storage device support

Implementing G1 support was done through the newly extensible mass storage device extension. That’s right, extensions extending extensions. With this new API, it is now possible to add “polished” support for certain classes of mass storage media players, like the G1 or BlackBerry devices.

For instance, here’s how the G1 is implemented:

Since this is just another Mono.Addin extension, new device support like this can be added outside of Banshee itself. I should note that this augments the portable_audio_player HAL specification. It’s to be used when more than the generic mass storage functionality is desired for a device.

The Release Notes Speak

For a more in-depth overview of what Banshee 1.4 has to offer, please read the release notes. Here’s a quick overview on what they cover:

  • Media player devices now support playlists (iPod, MTP/PlaysForSure included)
  • You can now have your device automatically sync with your library, or continue to manage it manually
  • I’ve implemented a brand new track editor that is fully extensible. It’s very easy to add new pages!
  • Shiny new UI for now playing makes for a more entertaining “background” or “party” mode
  • There’s now a tool that can rescan your library, adding new items or removing stale ones
  • File names/paths can now be automatically updated when metadata changes
  • Lots of minor UI improvements and polish
  • Stability and performance improvements

Try it already!

Banshee 1.4 is hands-down the best Banshee ever! Period! Packages should be available soon for your favorite Linux distribution, if they are not already (openSUSE and Ubuntu packages are at least ready now). And of course we have a shiny new Mac OS X .dmg!

Enjoy!

Update: Ryan wrote a great article about 1.4 over at Ars Technica. The comments are interesting. Is there anyone out there who has tried running Banshee on OpenSolaris? It works on FreeBSD…

This post powered by the “Similar to Eric Clapton” Last.FM radio station in Banshee 1.4.

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