In order for a technology to take off these days, it has to be simple. Twitter, Facebook, iTunes, Spotify – each can be summed up in a sentence or so and readily understood from the very first time you use it. Tomahawk is more complicated, but if you’re a music fan who listens to music on a laptop or desktop – and has friends who do too – it warrants a try, and possibly a place in your quiver of favorite music apps.
First if not foremost, Tomahawk is a media player along the lines of iTunes or Winamp, which can play the music stored on your computer. The fun starts when you install Tomahawk’s content resolvers, which are basically plug-ins that can find music to play in a bunch of other different streaming services, using their search APIs (application programming interfaces) – Spotify, Official.fm, YouTube, Bandcamp, Grooveshark, and others.
Whenever you try to play a song, Tomahawk might use any combination of these sources to provide the audio. For playing your own locally-stored music, that’s a fairly useless feature. You already have the song, so why would you want to play it in Spotify instead? However, Tomahawk gets more useful when you’re trying to play stuff you don’t already have – for example, a playlist from a Tomahawk-using friend.
“When I want to play a song, or somebody sends me a song, they’re not sending me a song – they’re sending me the metadata about that song – artist, track, possibly the album,” explained Tomahawk open source contributor Jason Herskowitz. “Then, on my side, Tomahawk says, ‘Okay, out of all the content sources that you have access to, what’s the best match?’”
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