Songbird is a media player / broswer that lets you keep control of your library while browsing music specific sites and downloading directly from them. When you load a site into the browser, if there are any media files embedded in the site, Songbird will open a pane and give the user a list of files available for download. Alternately, the user can play the songs directly from the website or from their library. Or a CD. Or wherever.
I've been using xt for a few months now and like having a music specific browser. I know that I can do many of the same functions using Firefox extensions, but it is a bit easier, to me, to just have a separate program that I can switch to when I want to do anything music and / or web related.
By the same token, I've been using Flock for several months, and while it is mainly a web browser, it is geared towards blogging with drag and drop Flickr access as well as a built in feed reader (I know, I can set all these things up in Firefox). Flock is highly integrated with all the new, funky, social aspects of web browsing as well, featuring bookmark synching and other features. Vox is not fully supported yet or I would find it more useful, however it is forthcoming according to the FAQ.
Today I came across one more new element in this idea of Function Specific browsing and that is the MAB project, or Mozilla Amazon Browser, which functions as an extension of Firefox or as a standalone program. The idea behind MAB is that browsing across six main Amazon sites takes a lot of time and returns a lot of un-needed information. The MAB lets the user see results listed in the main pane and has a preview screen to the right that displays whichever result is clicked on, thus negating the need to use the browser's back button if the result is not the one, or the only one you the user had wanted to see.
I am beginning to really like the idea of having seperate browsers for different functions. One for music, one for blogging, one for Amazon, one for who knows what else. Perhaps it's just me and my overly organized psyche, but I find that having a different goto for different projects or ideas to be an effective helper for getting things done. When I want to blog something, I go to Flock and I get something written. That doesn't happen when I open my regular browser and get slapped with e-mail notifications and RSS feeds. Similarly, using Songbird negates my having to use Firefox and iTunes and to constantly be switching between them (Foxytunes helps, but only so much). I'm not sure how the MAB will work out but it looks promising and is fun to play with, so I think it has good prospects.
And I may change my mind about the whole thing tomorrow and decide that it is just easier to have everything in one program, but that, I think is the beauty of the whole thing .
(Note – I thought about adding Democracy to the list but decided not to based on the idea that Democracy does not actually act as a browser; search is limited to a few sites that the Democracy team has chosen. Having said that, it is still a great program and worth checking out.)