Audion Earns Its Gold Watch – In a bittersweet move sure to bring a tear to the eye of skin-switching music lovers everywhere, Panic Inc. have decided to retire their long-standing digital audio jukebox program Audion. But rather than simply yanking the product off their servers, Panic has decided to make Audion available for free, and even sent a discount coupon to customers to thank them for their support.
In the early days of MP3 players on the Macintosh, Audion was locked in a neck-and-neck battle with SoundJam (then published by Casady & Greene, and which eventually became Apple’s iTunes). Audion distinguished itself by adopting "skins" – essentially, modules which changed the application’s look and interface – as well as offering power-user features like hierarchical playlists, user ratings, play counts, and even an audio editor. However, over time, Audion couldn’t carve out a niche amidst Apple’s ever-growing digital music offerings, and, although Audion can still manage tracks on an iPod, it can’t support the iTunes Music Store’s DRM protection, or offer support for Apple products like the AirPort Express. Still, Audion is a mature, capable music jukebox with features which will probably never be available in iTunes, and – for free! – it’s a heck of a deal. Kudos to Panic for standing by their customers and freeing the product; Panic also offers the Usenet and FTP clients Unison and Transmit, as well as a selection of Mac utilities. Audion 3.0.2 is available for Mac OS 8.6 or higher, or any version of Mac OS X. Panic co-founder Cabel Sasser has published a humorous and revealing account of Audion’s evolution – worth reading if you’re curious what it might be like to receive email from Steve Jobs on Christmas Eve. [GD]