Miro 4 hopes to fill Android's iTunes void

As some Android music players look to the cloud or wireless sync, open-source desktop player Miro revamps with a wired approach to mobile, complete with Android marketplace hooks and full iTunes library support.

The open-source audio and video jukebox Miro debuts a new version today that wants to be iTunes for Android. Miro 4 for Windows (download), Mac (download), and Linux (download), adds simple and effective desktop-to-Android synchronization to the program, which also offers media file conversion, torrent management, podcast catching, and media discovery. The Android syncing features focus on music and videos and includes built-in app browsing and management via in-program access to the Google Android Marketplace and the Amazon.com Android Marketplace.

Main interface of Miro 4 (Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

"We set the bar very high. We want to be the open iTunes," said Nicholas Reville, co-founder and executive director of the Participatory Culture Foundation, which publishes Miro and the Miro Video Converter, a separate program that also comes baked into the standard Miro. "Millions and millions of people use iTunes and they do because they accept the restrictions, like with Internet Explorer. We see ourselves as the new Firefox." He also added that Miro has "around two million" monthly users.

Except for the lack of over-the-air synchronization, the new Miro is basically the old Miro plus DoubleTwist. If you haven't checked out Miro in a while, since Miro 3's redesigned interface the feature-heavy program has gotten much easier to use. It heavily resembles iTunes, with a left nav for navigating between your audio, video, connected devices, Amazon MP3 store, and Android marketplaces. The new right nav links to recently watched videos, recently songs played, and recent downloads, while the center of the program is where your media discovery and playback happen.

Music on an Android in Miro 4 (Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

Miro 4 both looks like iTunes and communicates quite smoothly with your iTunes library. Importing more than 10,000 tracks went quickly because Miro recognizes media libraries that are pre-existing on your computer. Also like iTunes and other media jukeboxes, Miro now lets you stream and share your files to other computers running Miro on the same Wi-Fi network. Basically, you use it to manage media libraries on more than one computer.

App browsing is straightforward. Click the link in the left nav for either Google's or Amazon's market and you'll be able to access full marketplace features from within Miro. The same goes for Amazon's MP3 store.

Android Market in Miro 4 (Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

Miro 4 does not yet support Wi-Fi syncing for Android devices, although that feature is coming said Dave Glassco, President of the Participatory Culture Foundation. Also in the works is an iPad app for media streaming and playback.

Be warned that Miro's installation process not only opts you into the Bing toolbar, Bing search engine, and resetting Bing as your home page, but if you uncheck all three, Miro asks you if you're sure you want to harm their revenue stream. That's fairly aggressive for an open-source program, although this is unfortunately not new to Miro. It's not likely to change anytime soon, either.