If it’s been years since you thought of the Winamp audio player, no one would blame you. It was first released in 1997 and hasn’t been updated in years, but that’s set to change in 2019, with a new update set to overhaul the service to make it a competitor for modern streaming services such as Spotify. It will bring together podcasts, streaming radio stations, and music under a single, cross-platform application.
Winamp grew up during the rise of the MP3 format and in the early ’00s had tens of millions of users, but its influence has waned in the years since. After being picked up by Radionomy in 2014, Winamp was effectively abandoned, with no meaningful updates for any of its major platforms from the developers — although the Winamp community has made a serious effort to maintain its functionality. In 2019, however, Radionomy is going to overhaul every version of Winamp, including the desktop application.
“There will be a completely new version next year, with the legacy of Winamp but a more complete listening experience,” said Radionomy CEO Alexandre Saboundjian, via TechCrunch. “You can listen to the MP3s you may have at home, but also to the cloud, to podcasts, to streaming radio stations, to a playlist you perhaps have built.”
The new version doesn’t have a launch date beyond a vague “2019,” but when it does happen, we’re told that the Winamp experience will be modernized and improved dramatically. The main goal for the development team is to bring together all digital audio under one banner. That includes nonmusical content such as audiobooks and podcasts.
While Winamp fans wait for that milestone update, a meaningful, quality-of-life update is just around the corner. It was leaked earlier this year, but will be officially released on October 18 to bring Winamp to version 5.8. It makes the audio player more compatible with Windows 10 and fixes a few bugs and issues with the application. It’s more of a taste of what’s to come than anything that will make the application competitive. That’s what next year’s planned update is about.
As much as that rollout will include a desktop update though, the big push from Winamp is in the mobile space, we’re told. Seeing iOS and Android as fractured environments with many niche, small-time audio players competing with one another, Winamp sees its potential as the umbrella to bring together everyone’s audio needs in one app.
In the meantime, these are our favorite music players right now.