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:
- You can view music in the cloud, on the device, or both
- 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.
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:
- 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!)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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?
- 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:
- Creates smart playlists using music that’s on the device
- Doesn’t duplicate music that’s on the phone and is in the cloud (so doesn’t play every song twice)
- Doesn’t attempt to play cloud-based music while offline
- When online does give streaming access to a huge song library
- 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)
- 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…