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Xbox Music on Windows Phone 8.1 picks up first update for June, brings transparent Live tile

Microsoft has been improving Xbox Music on Windows Phone 8.1 at a fairly rapid pace. We were looking forward to bi-weekly updates from the company and should have had one this past Friday. That didn't pan out as Microsoft instead delayed that update for today. Head into the Windows Phone Store and you'll find the updated version of Xbox Music.

The last update for Xbox Music on Windows Phone came on May 23. That update introduced features like the ability to change tracks by swiping the album art, UI changes and bug fixes. Today's update brings Xbox Music to version 2.5.3965.0 in the Windows Phone Store, you'll see the app version sitting at 2.5.3965.0 if you go to the settings menu inside Xbox Music. The changelog in the Windows Phone Store just lists general performance improvements and bug fixes. We'll update with the full changelog once Microsoft shares it on the UserVoice page for Xbox Music.

Update Here is the full changelog from the Xbox Music UserVoice:

  • Songs list scrolls faster.
  • You can now add more than 100 songs to your playback queue! This means that "shuffle all" will add more variety to your listening experience.
  • App and pinned tiles support custom backgrounds and theme colors.
  • Artist art backgrounds now load more smoothly.
  • Songs already in your collection can now be purchased.

Sound off in the comments with what you think of the update and if you spot anything new. We are seeing a transparent Live tile with this update!

Thanks for the tip anshuman!

QR: Xbox Music

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Xbox Music on Windows Phone 8.1 picks up first update for June, brings transparent Live tile

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Because of the transparent tile, I see there is no floating text with the name of the artist when the tile has medium or large size.

I am no developer, but from my understanding, the poor performance is due to the fact that this app isn't native in the system anymore like it was in earlier versions of the OS.

Though there is one thing that I need someone to explain to me please, I remember reading about some apps going native on Android like Facebook for instance, but still they can be updated via the store, without the need of updating the whole OS. Can't Microsoft just apply a same methodology on how the OS deals with apps/updates?
Would be much appreciated if someone explained this to me.

I'm not sure what Joe ment with Third-Party platform there: https://twitter.com/joebelfiore/status/476623953038151680

But I'm strongly assuming they are now using the same framework that all devs use for WP development. And since the Music app on Windows 8.1 is using html based WinJS libraries, I'd imagine/hope it's the same now with the music app on WP 8.1. Winjs on Phone is pretty new so yeah, like Win 8, the early days the Winjs apps were pretty lacking, this framework has to mature on Phone too now.

Would love to get some technical insights of how exactly those new default apps were made.

Good point. I was thinking the same as well. Can someone elaborate on this? The Xbox Music app is still buggy and slow - it is still unstable as well, while the "old hub" wherever it is on the phone, still functions close to perfect.

Daniel, could you elaborate on this? Or a developer?

Yet, I did notice that when you press albums in the old hub on 8.1, isn't as fast as when you press music on 8.0. Why is that? I understand there's some latency through the tile provided by Music Hub tile, but in-app, it should work like on 8.0. Anyone got an idea on this?

I don't seem to have these performance issues on local stored tracks. Only when I'm streaming an album might take a few seconds to load.

I would suggest Microsoft to dump the old 'Metro' look for this app and take the Windows 8.1 Music app interface and port it over. Since Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 use the same RT kernel I'm sure they'll be able to build a decent universal app.

And the suggestion that Microsoft doesn't care about their own platform is absurd since all their employees are using Windows Phones....even Joe. So he's probably pushing them.

Be patient, the Windows Phone 8.1 App should be fixed by launch of Windows Phone 8.1

agreed. every list (Artists, Albums, Songs...) is slow to load. it used to be in the old app instantaneous in the old Music + Videos app. I wish I knew what they did to f*ck it up.

Its really so weird wht the devs were up to while creating this app ..!! Its blank nd useless .. Needs so many features nd functions :|

The new music app is no longer native... That's why.

But I really can't understand how the code is such a mess. I'm currently developing a music app for WinRT and it's fairly smooth....

Maybe its the DRM check? Maybe they're trying too hard to reuse code? (*cough* like VLC *cough*) Did they forget to run certain events asynchronously? I really don't know.

My Lumia 520 WP8 has same green tile Music+Video app. Is create a lot of duplicate files (mp3 as well as videos). How to fix this PERMANENTLY... help

Hard reset. That issue has been fixed months ago, but you need to reset your phone fully to make that effective (i.e. wipe all your data from your phone).

Yeah, definitely not faster on my side. I don't understand why they can make my list of artists load instantly in the new Files app but not in the music app.

How is it apples and oranges? Besides displaying album covers and playing tracks in albums in sequence, it is just displaying and loading some files? Shouldn't be too hard in 2014.

If you mean as in slow having a perpetual "looking for music" notification and about a 30secs to load the damn app then yes! I yes I have no idea how they jacked this up! Probably the same douche that got rid of the zune sync tool and bought us windows phone sync tool. Hopefully the developer is a part time super model for Joe Belfior to allow screwed like this...

Agree totally. Streaming is being used to make up for limited storage on some devices. But you can't steam on the underground, or in a plane, or on the beach on holiday. Please stop this 'streaming first' ideology.

Exactly, and another reason that not having micro SD on a high end 600 dollars smartphones sucks huge balls (yes, im looking at you Lumia 930).

still the same slow piece of crap on my 920. loading my artist list takes forever. once i finally get the artist loading their album list takes forever. then if i go back to the artist list it had to load up all over agian.

They fixed that with the last update on June 4, not May as Dan said. However, now it can't play any of my streaming music. Microsoft is so pathetic on this subject.

Am I the only one who loved the design of the Original music app ? The integrated one? It was incredibly smooth and the album/background pictures looked good

I saw both bugs. The demo tracks and the full duplicate. As I said, they squished those bugs on the fourth. Today they just killed streaming on my machine completely. Progress Microsoft style!

I'm not a fan of transparent tiles either, it looks like I am in the house looking outside through the window....these devs gotta do something to bring the option to disable this mess

By turning the background image off the phone will look even worse, same colour everywhere.... There is a way I arrange my tiles the default coluored ones and transparent ones music, games, videos look good in that green but not when transparent.... Next they will make Office and One Note transparent....that will be awful

Almost makes me wonder if the WPCentral link was to an incorrect version possibly. Intended only for TNQRFPTP?

Yeah, it is now time that we ask people to provide toggles in the apps. My start screen is now a bunch of transparent tiles.

My screen is set to take advantage of transparent tiles so it works for me but I would like the option to make it solid

+620

And xbox music need more improvements and not transparent tiles. But is great to see microsoft updating your app frequently. 

Yeah same here. Everything transparent doesn't look good. You have to balance it with a couple of solid tiles.

Then it becomes one boring mono colored brick. Shame they didnt include an option to make it look like Windows 8.

I loved having all the different colors on my start screen, but now even if you choose to go with your theme color and not have a transparent background, everything turns to your theme color.

I also really wish there was an option to turn it off.

No, just no. I want them all transparent with flip tiles for info. Solid colors have just bugged me with 8.1

Locker for your own music, and allowing you to upload music that isn't in the store. My Beatles collection is getting no love from Xbox Music.

I could not care less about streaming music or the xbox music store, or any music store for that matter!
All my music is meticulously tagged and has my album art on the albums. All I want to do is create and edit playlists on my phone! I want to create a playlist for when I am cycling or cooking or walking to work I want to add songs off albums that I never appreciated before to eg my Jazz or Northern Soul playlists, I want to delete individual songs that I have grown tired of from my playlists. I want to be able to favourite my songs I want to have a recently added list ditto a recently played list.
Most of all I want a decent music experience! not some crapper than crappy crap app that's held together with the coding equivalent of chicken wire and Sellotape.

When we talk about this app it feels like we are back in the 90s. I mean its a frickin MP3 player!!!!! How fucking hard can it be?!

Amen.

What? It's been updated like 3 times? and everytime I'm like, "This'll be the one that fixes it." SPOILER ALERT I'm disappointed everytime.

WHY?!?!? I've created a beautiful start screen incorperating the Xbox green rather well, and it's slowly starting to turn into one boring colour. I don't like it. Is the original green tile at least an option? EDIT: Aaaand it isn't. Blagh.

Find a wallpaper you like and try it, you might be surprised. I use the Windows Phone Insider app for wallpapers.

Or just plain WRONG. It still has issues reading embedded album art in MP3's.

I even caved in and had XBM on my laptop run wild and allowed it to update all the meta data as it see's fit, then I copied the files over to the phone.It's still jacked up on the phone.

This whole XBM for the phone is just a continuing comedy of errors.

Can we now check our reviews on the Xbox Music app in the store. I think it now deserves more than 2 stars after all these updates.

more than 2 stars.....i would rather give negative stars if possible....this app still sucks big time....

Just because they update it a couple of times a month doesn't exclude them from criticism. MS had the best mobile media player out there and they threw it all away. This app still doesn't support live tiles, constantly checks for music, slow as fuck and is a step back from what we've had before. 2 and a half weeks to simply add a transparent tile and bug fixes is bs. MS have the resources to create an incredible app yet they let one of their interns with a background in bakery have a go at it.

No live tile yet, loading times improved a little bit still not as fast as old music hub, swipe to change track has smoother transition, transparent tile and yet not option to disable it or disable online syncing

The last update was on June 4th, not in May. I tipped you guys to that update back then to the sound of crickets. The biggest change from THAT update was that it no longer played each song twice if the album was both on your phone and in your cloud collection.

No, there was no update on June 4th, sorry. Put it another way, you were the only one to tip and no one else received that special update.

Well they must have been playing favorites again. I get updates daily, and look around for them too. No update showed on my phone for over 10 days. They're must be more going wrong with this app than meets the eye.

Verified. You are right Daniel, and also verified that alot of people didn't get the update pushed to them for a week or more, despite getting lots of other updates. They must have been mixing around with their servers, which as we know, are ahem, very dynamic these days. Mostly for the better, but not always.
In my case, it popped up five minutes after I did updates to all available Apps, so I really thought I caught the crest of the wave. Doh!

Real life scenario from the last update...
6 beers later...OMG BEST MUSIC APP EVER! 
12 hours later...OMG IT STILL SUCKS!
I'm going to try this again to see if I get the same drunk placebo effect.

It would definitely take more that 6 beers to consider this the best music app ever. Maybe 6 grams of heroin could do the trick :-)

It doesn't do the loop where if you hit back it takes you back through the app again to the now playing and all. It also resumes a lot faster once the app is already open. I also have missed tapping the artist in the now playing section and it taking you back to the artist albums locally with the collection of Xbox live music collection. It has probably been there all along but if you bring up the context menu and choose artist info you get back to this page. Clicking the current song brings you to that album only tracks.

Still missing the store browse where you can choose genre and then new releases under that genre. Only shows top artists and albums. More of a store fix but this is different than in 8.0 built in.

The performance is actually greatly improved, and the black screen issues seems to be resolved too, so no, it's more than that. There's more to this than what is in the headline.

I hate to say it Daniel, but you really sound like an apologist for Microsoft on this. XBox music has been, and remains a huge mess, with only minimal effort on Microsoft's behalf. The software for losing your songs into your phone for offline playback looks like something from the Atari era.

The App itself has been buggy and problematic since its inception. Obviously not taken seriously enough to bother getting the basics right before forcing it on WP Owners was a big mistake. How can I possibly recommend WinPhone to a friend who needs to reliably listen to their music? To top it off, this update has broken the thing so now it won't play any of my music. I don't care anymore about Microsoft's "something big". Like most people, I just want a solid music player that will reliably play All my music. That's not much to ask for in 2014 and we should collectively stop giving Microsoft a pass based on the ideas that it's really hard to do and they'll get out right eventually.

"Forcing"? You're on a Developers Preview, for crying out loud! If you want smooth, stay with the official versions...

This particular App has been in Beta for months now, and it certainly won't be in any fit state when 8.1 rolls out officially soon.

Unless they've got one guy working on this in a basement somewhere (which is almost what it seems like), there's no excuse for it being this shabby.

So far it's just a case of them playing catch-up to features that used to be there previously.

HAHAHAHA

Dude, do you really believe that Music and Games, per say, will be smooth when WP 8.1 goes official? LOL

Moreover, MS should cut this crap of "Xbox Team". Probably there is just one single trainee that is responsible for these apps. We had to wait two weeks and half for a transparent live tile and a image background that fits? App is in fact slower, at least for me. They throw this shit on us about "remove the apps from OS to faster updates", but Games haven't received an update since forever and this XBM updates are jokes. Seriously... we've seen one single developer do a much better job in much less time.

And I hate to say it MadSci2, but you sound like a bitter old woman, who just likes to yell at anyone that shows any type of positivity. For me, and many others, the app is perfectly fine.

I really don't know what these people complain about it. I use this app everyday, and now seems perfect (in terms of performance), just Live Tile and Lockscreen missing.

How long have you been using the music app on WP?

I've been using it for 4 years now. And that's every day. The older app was built better. Better navigation and the way you consume content. I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels that way.

Working great for me too. The update did make it seem to go faster. And since with the xBox Music app I never had the duplicate song issue with SD card like with the old Music app, I'm happy!  The only thing I miss from the old Music app is the "history" tab.

Tip regarding the lockscreen: If a picture of the artist on the lockscreen isn't showing when music is played, try going into Settings->Lock Screen->OFF (for Show artist when playing music). Then back out of Setings and then toggle that option back on; i.e. Settings->Lock Screen->ON (for Show artist when playing music).  Then play a song by a different artist and the artist picture will show up on the lockscreen.

It seems like I have to do that everytime there is an xBox Music app update.

Even as one of the BIGGEST haters of Xbox Music, I'm going to back up Daniel Rubino on this particular update. I have sent in suggestions for articles to call out XBM, and I was always annoyed with WPC pointing out its positives at the beginning of WP8's life cycle. I've also been ticked at MS for the mostly insignificant updates. But this update IS a big improvement in performance. "Much faster" isn't just a joke this time. Also songs playing out of order has been fixed (really weird bug that started with the last update and might have caused the delay). I refuse to compliment the XBM team, but this is actually a significant update.

The black screen is still there. I hit the artist name in the drop down menu to go into the app and I was taken to a black screen. It showed loading two times only to load a black screen. Clicked the back key once and finally the app showed the current music playing.

Then it's not an improvement over what I have now then. Not looking forward to the 8.1 update, purely because it means more downgrades to the music player :(.

+920 for the translucent tile. Being able to see through while maintaining the iconic green not only helps in differentiating tiles but also in brand awareness.

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