xbox music

We've previously looked at how bad Xbox Music is on Windows Phone 8.1 (in the Preview for Developers, anyway), but the experience has never been flawless on Windows Phone. Microsoft evidently knows this as the company is looking to roll out an update next week (April 22nd), which will kick off bi-weekly releases for the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview client.

This is superb news for Xbox Music Pass holders who wish to have a decent experience on the phone.

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Despite the fact Windows Phone 8.1 has been garnering some fantastic reviews from both tech pundits and the masses, it’s not all roses and ponies. I was reminded of this last night when playing with the Xbox Music app that comes with 8.1.

On the surface, the app looks decent. It’s a continuation of the new app structure started late last year by Microsoft, which replaces the ‘built in’ Music + Video hubs of the past. Microsoft is changing the architecture so that the Windows Phone Team can quickly add new features and fix bugs, all without an OS update.

But let’s not mince words: the music experience on Windows Phone 8.1 is subpar, and it has become worse since 8.0.  In fact, it sits with a pathetic 2.5 stars (out of 5) on the Store, which is awful for a Microsoft app.

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When it comes to Microsoft’s Xbox Music, it’s certainly a work in progress. Setting up a globally competitive, all-in-one, music streaming and shopping service is certainly no small task. The service itself sports one of the largest collections of music, giving users the ability to stream or buy songs with one or two clicks. But what if your favorite band or album is not available?

Luckily, there’s an easy trick for telling Microsoft exactly what they are missing, giving them the ability to focus resources on getting that selection.

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How to manage devices connected to Xbox Music

Microsoft’s Xbox Music streaming service is free for everyone with a Microsoft account to use. It’s also available cross-platform, on both Android and iOS as well as Xbox, Windows and Windows Phone (plus the web). Today we’ll be taking a quick look at how to efficiently manage devices connected to an Xbox Music subscription.

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Our forums here at Windows Phone Central can be considered the breath and soul of the site itself; a place where fellow "Microsofties" can talk about the technology they hold dearest. In a post this week, WPCentral Member Dallas Gaston asks whether he should grab an Xbox One to pair with his Windows 8.1 Desktop, Surface 2 Pro, and Nokia Lumia 1520 or grab a PlayStation as he always has in the past.

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The Windows Phone Store has nearly every major music platform available, with the obvious exception of official iTunes or Google Play apps. You’ll find Xbox Music, Beats Music, Songza, Spotify, and more available to you as a Windows Phone (and probable Windows 8) user.

However odds are a lot of you are rocking out to Xbox Music on Windows Phone. It is of course the native music application available and built-in to Windows Phone 8. If you’re a power user you probably know the ins and outs of how Xbox Music works on both Windows Phone and Windows 8. If you’re not a power user, then this article is for you. Here’s how to create and manage playlists with Xbox Music on Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8.

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Top five Windows Phone apps for music fans

If there’s one form of media smartphone owners enjoy access to it has to be music. Windows Phones and music go hand in hand with numerous solutions available on the store, whether it be local library management, cloud services and music stores. From Xbox Music to Nokia MixRadio, we take a look at five popular music apps for Windows Phone.

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Odds are most of you haven’t heard of The Echo Nest. It’s a music intelligence platform company that provides various music services to developers and media companies. The Echo Nest started from spin-off research work done at the MIT Media Lab. The company offers music recommendation, playlist generation, acoustic analysis, music identification and data feeds. Developers and companies can tap into the vast data base of Echo Nest.

You might not have ever heard of Echo Nest, but you probably use their services data. Xbox Music, Nokia MixRadio, Spotify and Rdio all have components powered The Echo Nest. One of those companies just bought the Echo Nest.

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Xbox Music is the phoenix that rose from the ashes of Zune. As you know, Zune wasn’t just digital media hardware from Microsoft. It was an entire ecosystem of music and videos that went with you from your smartphone, to your desktop and to the browser. The entire Zune brand and marketplace was more or less killed off in late 2012 so that Microsoft could instead focus on building Xbox Music and Xbox Video.

Microsoft learned a lot from doing Zune. They made a few mistakes here and there, but overall there weren’t too many complaints from users about the service itself. It definitely laid the foundation for Xbox Music. You’ll even still see relics from Zune in Xbox Music, like that little heart button.

What does that thing do, anyway?

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When Xbox Music and Xbox Video first came out on Windows 8 they offered an abysmal experience. Especially when compared to the Zune desktop app, their spiritual successor. Thankfully that didn’t last too long, the Windows 8.1 refresh to both apps made them usable and enjoyable again. They’ve slowly been picking updates up over the past few months and today we’ve got another for both Xbox Video and Xbox Music.

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Last week we announced a minor update that was pushed for Xbox Music on Widows 8.1.  The update had seemed to simply include a variety of bug fixes and performance tweaks, but a member from our forums has pointed out that the update has brought back a feature that had been previously taken out in a past update – full screen artist visualizations.

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Today Xbox Music for Windows 8.1 devices has received a minor update. The Xbox Music services serves as an alternative to more popular music streaming services like Spotify, Rdio, and (soon) Beats Music. Windows 8 users even receive six hours of free streaming a month in fifteen different countries. So, what has changed in the latest update?

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You’re not a major player if you don’t have APIs for devs to tap into your product. Which is why Xbox Music just went from another streaming service to a bonafide platform. That’s right, Microsoft has done something a little unexpected today. They’ve introduced the Xbox Music API as a way for developers to connect their apps or websites to the Xbox Music service. Let’s check it out.

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Last year, Windows Phone 8 infamously launched without the ability to watch your content from Xbox Video. It was a sore point of contention when Windows Phone fans would argue the overall strengths of the Microsoft ecosystem. Earlier today, Microsoft finally launched a dedicated app for Xbox Video (and surprised us with a new app for Xbox Music). So, how are you liking it?  

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This morning, Microsoft continued to surprise us with two new releases for Windows Phone 8. Xbox Music and Xbox Video apps were released in tandem, augmenting current baked-in functions of their mobile OS.

The Xbox Music app is currently in ‘Preview’, meaning a final version won’t be due until 2014. Likewise, Xbox Video currently doesn’t support HD video playback or downloading, but a Microsoft spokesperson has confirmed that feature is coming next year.

How are the apps? Watch our video tour below to see them in action.

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Hot on the heels of Xbox Video coming to Windows Phone 8 today, Microsoft has also pushed out a separate app for Xbox Music. While we’ve known about the Video app coming, a separate one for Music was not expected this early.

Heading to the Windows Phone Store, you can find the app resting at just 6 MB in size. It does require a Xbox Music Pass account to log in, as this app seems more focused on the cloud (though it can access your local music as well). In addition, Microsoft has added back Radio and editable playlist support with the app, giving it a slight edge over the native version.

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Microsoft’s digital music service, Xbox Music, has received an update for its Windows 8 application. The new update brings a collection of new features and bug fixes to enhance your listening experience. Whether using an Xbox Music pass for unlimited streaming or purchasing songs individually – this latest update is out to impress.

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