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 Friday, January 17, 2014
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Update:

Thanks to this post I learned something useful that addresses some of my concerns. Specifically that there is an “Xbox Music” app in the Windows Phone store that you can download for free. Rather than updating the built-in music app in the phone, they created a new one and nobody told me :)

This new Xbox Music app is pretty much comparable to the Windows 8 app, including the following:

  1. You can view music in the cloud, on the device, or both
  2. Playlists sync between WP8 and Win8

This addresses several of my complaints (around lack of playlists and playing every song twice).

It still doesn’t explain why the Xbox Music app on Win8 often mutes when it isn’t in the foreground (but sometimes works as expected). Nor does it alleviate the lack of music videos on the Xbox One compared to the 360.

But at least I can now use my phone to listen to music while at cardio rehab, and that was my single biggest desire.

Original:

I really like (or used to like) the Zune client and zune.net service, which were sort of renamed Xbox Music.

And even after the rename and changes the Xbox Music service is pretty good in some ways.

But there are some key things that are just plain broken – to the point I’m thinking about dropping the service. These are my complaints:

  1. On the Xbox 360 the Xbox Music app had something called “Smart VJ” that played music videos; this is gone on the Xbox One, thus eliminating the primary reason I used Xbox Music on the actual Xbox (there’s no VEVO app for Xbox One either, so basically no music videos available at all – good thing I still have my 360!)
  2. On Windows Phone 7 I could sync my music to the phone; on WP8 I can copy my music to the phone via the file system, but all my “cloud music” shows as duplicated on the phone, so I hear almost every song twice (or if there’s no data signal every other song errors out when the phone tries to play it) – basically the experience makes the phone virtually useless for music (some more info about the broken cloud music feature is here: http://winsupersite.com/article/windows-phone-8/windows-phone-8-tip-xbox-cloud-collection-144703)
  3. I have to create playlists for my phone on my phone, which is tedious at best, especially compared to creating a playlist on a computer; this problem didn’t exist in WP7 And thanks to the nasty cloud collection behavior, creating a playlist automatically is kind of useless for when I want to listen offline (like on an airplane, or when I’m at physical therapy in the basement of the hospital where there’s no cell service)
  4. There’s no “Smart DJ” feature on Windows 8 if you are offline – even if you have a couple thousand songs physically on your computer; the lowly Zune HD device didn’t have this problem, but my super-powerful and much more modern Surface Pro can’t pick its own music when offline?
  5. About half the time the Xbox Music app on Windows 8 mutes the sound when the app is in the background – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – seems pretty buggy to me

Basically, compared to the original Zune and zune.net behaviors the Xbox Music clients and service are a major step backwards.

Is anyone using some online/offline music service or player that does work on Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8? Something that:

  1. Creates smart playlists using music that’s on the device
  2. Doesn’t duplicate music that’s on the phone and is in the cloud (so doesn’t play every song twice)
  3. Doesn’t attempt to play cloud-based music while offline
  4. When online does give streaming access to a huge song library
  5. Plays music on Windows 8 without muting when the app is in the background (Pandora is broken like this, and Xbox Music is unreliable in this regard)
  6. Allows me to download otherwise-streaming music for a playlist if I want that music offline (one of the things Xbox Music does well)

I know I might be an outlier, wanting to listen to music when I have no data service (or when I don’t want to burn my cell data plan down). And maybe I should just get an iPod and be done with it – but then I’d have to install iTunes on my computer, and last time I did that I was far from satisfied either…

Windows 8 | WP8 | Xbox | Zune
Saturday, January 18, 2014 12:03:46 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Dude - a few things:

1. Pick up Xbox Music for the WP8. Much better than the built in music and video app.
2. In Xbox music, on artists/songs/albums there's a dropdown to select cloud or local - no more dupes.
3. xbox music syncs playlists across Win8, WP8 and Xbox 360 (don't know about XB1)
4. For an offline playlist based on an artist, go to Radio and pick an artist. You can then go to the playlist it creates and select "Download" for offline use. A hack, but it works.

Hope this helps!

yag
yag
Saturday, January 18, 2014 3:29:31 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
No answer, but you're not alone. XBox music sucks big time; I can't believe they push Windows 8 and Metro as a cool tablet UI when their media handling is so awful. I still use Zune as my local player while working.
Dave
Monday, January 20, 2014 7:50:59 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Rocky,

This may not solve your Xbox Music problems, but if Microsoft isn't willing to meet you half way, Media Monkey will let your fully manage an iOS device on Windows. Here is a lifehacker article outlining the features and steps: http://lifehacker.com/how-to-ditch-itunes-forever-and-keep-syncing-your-ios-d-505568915

Dave.
Dave Sadler
Monday, January 20, 2014 10:57:32 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
I agree, I was a big fan of all things Zune, and as developers I'm sure we had a modest level of empathy regarding the difficulty of bringing ALL of those features to iOS, Android, and WP8. But it's taking a long time for each baby step. I'm on Android and at least had the pleasure of an Xbox Music update last week which enables offline playlists for the first time. But I concur 100% with your gripes, and would add the following: still a lack of decent music discovery features and the inability to use it with Google Voice Actions on Android!

I would recommend giving your feedback here, too: http://xboxmusic.uservoice.com/forums/209733-xbox-music-suggestion-box
Cory
Friday, January 24, 2014 12:05:24 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Just get an MP3 player that connects as USB mass storage, load up your music and playlists, and leave Zune/iTunes to the kiddies who love signing away their digital freedom to some lame program. I use an ancient Creative Zen player that's long since discontinued, but I've heard a lot of good things about SanDisk's stuff. Drop in a microSD card and you've got capacity comparable to a high-end iPod for a fraction of the price.
Bogus
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