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Microsoft keeps promise, updates Xbox Music for Windows Phone

Windows Phone 8.1 xbox music

Microsoft is keeping their promise of bi-weekly updates for Xbox Music on Windows Phone. The app was last updated two weeks ago and is now again picking up an update. That last update saw stability fixes, completed Cortana integration, UI polish and more. Let’s head into the Windows Phone Store and see what’s new with this version of Xbox Music.

You’ll find Xbox Music now sitting at version 2.5.3884.0. Today’s update lists the following as new:

  • General performance improvements
  • Bug Fixes
  • Background initial sync of local and cloud content
  • Slider to scrub now playing track

Those two bullet points were listed in the last update two weeks ago. We obtained a detailed changelog from the new Xbox Music UserVoice page. We’re still hunting for the real changelog for this update. Do let us know if you find it.

In the meantime, we’ve poked around the app briefly and have found one thing that was different. After updating we were greeted with a new page that said ‘Completing the update’. Other than we’re going to need some help spotting what’s new and improved. That's probably the initial background sync of local and cloud content Microsoft wanted in the last update. 

Update: Thanks to you all we're finding out new features in this update. Not only does it seem faster (haha), but a slide to scrub the track has been added. You can see it below. 

Update 2: And Microsoft has finally provided the full changelog on the UserVoice site. Here's what they detail in this release of Xbox Music:

  • Audio scrubbing is now supported! Slide the track progress indicator in the Now Playing screen to advance to the spot you like.
  • Smoother FFW and REW animations.
  • UI fixes to improve visibility of content.
  • Bug fixed where songs are incorrectly removed from playlists.
  • Fixes for unexpected app exits.

Xbox Music Update

You can download Xbox Music from the Windows Phone Store

Thanks for the tip everyone!

QR: Xbox Music

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Reader comments

Microsoft keeps promise, updates Xbox Music for Windows Phone

557 Comments

Yes, I used to use that to skip through tracks whilst driving without taking my eyes off the road. Trying to hit any of the buttons whilst driving is near impossible.

yes. even if the phone is locked too. just press the unlock button, then swipe the area of the album cover to skip or go back on the music.

that way i can do it while im sleeping (trying to sleep-closed eyes).

Yes. Thank you. Hitting those tiny arrows while driving is a hazard. Please bring back swipe. I have no idea why we keep going backwards on this app.

+920

This is an essential function that needs to be returned, especially for driving, but like to use it all times.

If you go to Xbox Uservoice, Swipe is the second-highest voted suggestion and it is labeled as "Planned," today. :)

So, it will come.

I was up on the "scrub" slide-seek for skipping around on my music, that's all. (Top #1 most voted on, so far)

Guys got this from xboxmusic:

http://xboxmusic.uservoice.com/knowledgebase/articles/360852-xbox-music-...

Some things to look forward to in future releases:
◾Continued focus on stability and performance improvements.
◾Initial sync of local and cloud content happens in the background.
◾Usability improvements in Now Playing screen.
◾Support for greater than 100 songs in Now Playing queue.
◾Faster loading of long lists.
◾Swipe gesture to advance songs on Now Playing screen.
◾Transparent Tile support.
◾Live Tile support.
◾Design and layout changes to get you to your content faster.
◾Kid’s Corner support.
◾General UX improvements.

We will regularly update the status of popular requests on UserVoice. Thanks again for your feedback!

Expect our next release in two weeks!

Thanks,

The Xbox Music Team

I miss that too, this app sucks so much ass... they need to scrap it, cuz the old one plays, fast-forwards, and rewinds tracks better, had recently played, didn't crash, loaded every artist, album, and song, and had a live tile... this not better in any way shape or form... well creating playlist, but the what's the point when u dont even want to use it...

THE PLAYLIST. Even creating a playlist and using it is buggy. After creating a playlist for some odd reason it duplicates all of the tracks over and over and over. An 18 track playlist turned into a 144 track playlist. Super weird, hope this fixes that.

Your own duplicates?? My own deletes the songs in the playlists!! Seriously I'm contemplating on going back to Itunes if this doesn't get fixed asap.

Yeah, for Christ's sake mine does BOTH. Sometimes the playlist self-duplicated, sometimes the playlist is partially or completely wiped. What are they even doing?...

Same for me. This sucks!!! My playlist are almost completely wiped. Loosing all this time creating list for my 50 GB collection to find out that this buggy app erased playlists songs everytime.

Why are you complaining here? There's a user site for that.. Not saying not to state your feelings,but if you want Microsoft to know what is desired.. Tell them,they gave you a way to reach out.

It's a comments section to comment on an article, why not voice our opinion here? And why assume that this topic hasn't already been added to their uservoice site.

Hmmm.. I stated "not saying not to voice your opinion" perhaps I should have been more clear. As in "not saying not to voice your opinion wherever you'd like,but in addition to this comment section,you might also want to try the user voice site if you haven't already done so. Would that long ass run on sentence have been better for you? Besides I was replying to James. I'm not necessarily assuming that he hasn't done anything on the voice site. Just asking a question,and making a suggestion. If he already has,then perhaps he can say so if he wants to even entertain my comment. No harm,no foul.

Yes, why are people giving their opinions on windows phone features on a windows phone site?! THE INSANITY!!!
Sure, there is the uservoice site, but building outrage is the best way to affect change.

Is it bad that; in the midst of all this - I would've stuck beside Xbox Music if they didn't kill the live tile?

I have not yet seen a sexier live tile on Windows Phone than what XBMusic used to have.

My beautiful music Live Tiles turn into dumb Android icon :(
Hope Microsoft fix the bug and bring more Live Tiles features.

this app sucks, no forgetting about beta, no need to reiterate preview status, still sucks... o and look, they had a great one to start with... but still sucks... better now after this update tho

I had the same thought yesterday, but realized that they STILL released the app without the beta tag. If this app was released without any of our voices or opinions the general public would have been shafted when 8.1 becomes widely available.

I got it to fast forward and I normally never need to do that. It rewinds and plays too.  Are you using some thrid party utillity to do all that or in the app itself? 

Note: This damn thing sound GREAT with my Purity Headphones.  Oli Silk sounds awesome.

??? it just used to do I better, lags when u play and pause, the skip takes way to long at times, and and when u down the skip button to rewind and fast forward, it used to go second by second then speed up as u held it down longer, now it just flies thru

Joe Belfiori knows that we want swipe to change track.

In his reddit session he answered that 'swipe to change track' is on the list for coming updates.

Just received an email in my Hotmail account saying that is was high enough on the user voice list to be an upcoming feature(again).

Purchasing a song is a freaking ordeal as well. 10 free downloads a month and it's a birch to tag and buy the damn song. You can easily download all damn day though.

Yup it does, I don't that WP8.1 is in preview form. There's no excuse as to why this app sucks. I mean come on its a separate app and has been out for a while. MS is pretty slow for being the largest software company.

630 coming out next week. Stop defending crappy software. Next week music app won't be totally fixed!!!!

If you guys want swipe back, go to the store and search "music hub". There's an app that acts as a shortcut to the WP 8.0 music app which in my opinion is still better than the current music app for 8.1

Guys how would it be if they allowed swiping up or down to change tracks ? Does the job, looks cool and unique, and they wont have to make a new now playing screen for that,

it will be coming in the next update probably. they sent this mail....

"Thanks for the feedback! We are planning on bringing back the swipe gesture to advance songs in an upcoming release!"

It not only seems faster, it is faster... It resumes much faster (without the horrid black screen) and it loads all your music during the "Completing the Update" phase... No longer do we have to constantly wait for all our music to load...
EDIT: The Downloads page is also redesigned with smaller images to enable you to see more of the list and not have to scroll for miles...

Indeed, I'm very happy, and that's why I made that comment, because it's legit faster, but people on this site are sick of the stale joke.

Finally done see the horrid "Loading..." just when I'm casually scrolling through my music. Also love how it resumes almost instantly, like any proper app should.

Not only is it faster but it just feels more stable all round as well, I currently have it updating my collection at the moment though. It does need a UI overhaul to give it more of a WP8.1 look.

Take a look at the Games and Video Hubs and you'll see what I mean, the UI of Music sticks out like a sore thumb!!!!

I agree. The old app's grey theme looked beautiful. This is a very minimalistic metro app. I'd expect this from a beginning developer, not the major tech giant that made the entire OS.

thats the thing though.. they made an entire OS, just because microsoft is huge, doesnt mean the WP dev team is huge, more than likely they stopped working on the app after the preview was released on WP8.0 and focused all efforts on WP8.1 it self, and now that 8.1 is out of the way, they are working on it again, it looks like a beginner app, because it is, its basically an app that was brought to a working phase with a basic cocnept, in time I think it will be beautiful, i prefer the pivot setup much more, and as for the xbox app, I hope they overhaul that too... it looks pretty ugly (that grey background honestly doesn't look good to me.. especially it being a gradient, as that generally fights the whole modern ui language)

I had suggested that 'completing the update' phase to cache the library. Seems they had it in mind.. Anyway nice to see they finally got some sense,

Yeah, but it doesn't make it feel like a polished or professional product. The old app was very snappy and did things the second you clicked it.

Nope.black screen black screen black screen. What are you guys on? It still sucks. Maybe that's because I use cloud collection?

I'm using Xbox Music Pass too. The music I've downloaded to my phone works fine, but music being streamed is slow to respond. Very annoying.

If i were you id do a hard reset, something must be messed up because most people don't get black screens.

I would hate that if it was crashing. Lucky it isn't I guess.  So just playing a loaded song and it drops?

What you talking about way over due, you could scrub the track before by holding down the |<< or >>| buttons.

Yes and that was the biggest bullshit ever! Sorry but with that I can finally like this app. This is the way to jump to a precise position right away.

No, that's not good enough, and is super unintuitive... We need modern scrubbing not hold then release scrubbing.. That's why it's grew that MS finally, after almost 4 years, added this feature.. That's what he's talking about❕❕❕

Yeah, I thought scrubbing was new.. It took almost 4 years!! Good addition, but the app still is terrible... Hopefully the next update will bring it closer to the last experience,,,,, that wasn't that great either...

At this point, I'll be excited if it doesn't give me a black screen 2 out of 3 times that I start it.

I hope you're not using a transparent tile created from another app. I used "Transparent tiles" app to make the tile and that created a black screen everytime I opened it.

Already installed, its a great improvement!! Shuffle now shuffules infinitly!!! WOOHOO

and they have added scrubbing throuhg the track... no swipe to change track yet though

WOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! 

Finally.  How they manged to screw up nextTrack = playlist[floor(random(0, playlist.size()))]; I will never understand. 

Well, it should have been easy anyway, something like:
*shuffle begins*
alreadyPlayed=[]
while True:
index=floor(random(0,playlist.size()))
if index in alreadyPlayed:
continue
newTrack=playlist[index]
alreadyPlayed+=[index]
break
Or they could have created a list with all the numbers from 0 to the playlist size, do a random choice for the new song from the index list, then remove the current index from the list, that'd be better.
And then clear the index list when the user exits from the shuffle mode, something like that :)
(This code is in Python, of course WP8 apps run in C#, this was just the idea)

Not as simple as that. First, they have to map out a randomised playlist up front, one that never repeats a track like a simple random number would do. This is so you can seek forward and backward within the randomised playlist. And then if you have repeat enabled, it has to regularly add randomised tracks to the end of the playlist ensuring that none of the new ones appear in the last n songs, where n = t ÷ 2 (or thereabouts) and t is the total number of source tracks available.

Ok fair enough.  :D   15 lines of code. 

But just taking the current playlist and randomizing it into a new list would be 100x better than the status quo.  From there I would be pretty patient with tolerating dynamic playlist expansion and contraction.   

When the official music app is bad to the point where you can't even listen to your music when you're on the go, the least MS can do is keep their promise... Hope this version makes it better.

Scrubbing and it does seem slightly faster. It would be nice if it didn't have that splash screen every time I opened it but whatever. Keep bringing on the updates, this app really needs it!!

Agreed, apps don't need splash screens, it's not even a third party dev requirement. If your app needs a splash screen, then you need to seriously look at refactoring your startup code.

That's an RT thing that seems to have come across as part of the API merge as even the Calendar app has a splash screen.

Is there any option to jump between seconds in xbox music? Lets say if I want to listen from a specific second and not to play it all over again?

Lol. Right? And would you look at the ridiculous header still sitting there taking up 20 inches of space? Talk to me again in about 20 updates the way this is going.

Not a landing page really, its got the player UI right there. Rather than looking at "Xbox m" taking up 20% of the screen, I'd like bigger album art maybe. There are any number of possibilities that would be better than "fine" (or, in my book, better than "lame.")

"After having reneged on the overall promise of Windows Phone, Microsoft keeps their promise of regularly delivering small updates to the hugely important feature it recently completely ruined."

Haha so true. Goes a log way to explain their miniscule market share despite a product that should, in theory, be awesome.

Well I can't quite get on board with that... The market share never took off and 7.5 & 8 were excellent releases that everyone in the community can go on and on easily about. Reviewers were never impressed tho, and usually managed to find things to complain about that they overlooked on other platforms, or else found fault for missing features that were actually there already (hi, Molly Wood.) This release is pretty much universally acclaimed by reviewers for... well, adding a notification center. It really shows you that reviewers don't use the phone for more than five minutes. That's why they didn't appreciate the grace of WP before, and why they haven't complained yet that Music is completely unusable. Although you can ask Cortana to play you a playlist, which is a good option because really who wants to touch this app?

Windows Phone 8.1 ultimately brings WP closer to being the same as other platforms, and ironically though that takes away from what makes it so enjoyable to use, it might actually increase its popularity.

+620
+HD7
+Zune

Have to say the notification center was highly needed and much appreciated though. But otherwise you nailed it, the grace that it used to have is missing.

It's like taking the grace of a galloping horse and putting it on a donkey, because every one needed to show that they have a fancy donkey!

This comment is so accurate, it's sad. It reminded me of all the messaging they did around the ethos of windows phone and how they focused their efforts in the beginning. I found this quote from the 2010 launch release: “We had this list of things we knew we wanted – e-mail, a browser, games, a MUSIC PLAYER,” says Myerson. The team knew that they wanted the phone to be versatile and deliver exactly what the customer wanted out of a phone. But its greatest asset is something less tangible than a single feature or access to a program. “Using this phone is truly a DELIGHTFUL experience,” says Myerson." Now it would be silly to say that WP hasn't come a long in features since launch; it truly has. But how far has the core smartphone activity of music gone back with Xbox music, and now with this pitiful excuse of a music app? Does it deliver what loyal users, average users; non-Xbox subscribers or Xbox subscribers want? Is it versatile? Is it delightful? And before anyone dismisses this as a beta, I'll counter that app's problems go beyond bugs to a deeper problem of the people responsible for this app losing sight of providing a high-quality, thoughtful, delightful experience to the user.

They really mucked up one of the most important every day experiences.

Delightful, beautiful and unique this and the Photo app. They both have lost this!

But, hoping they come back with the original awesomeness?

You can now fast forward or rewind through a song by dragging a little dot back and forth which is cool.

Scrubbing and it doesn't lag when I scroll through songs means I can use it as a music player again.

Is there a Transparent Live Tile Yet? I'm not getting rid of the transparency tile until that happens. I really want that. Both transparent and live like in wp8

I know that, but even in final release of 8.1 it will not be fast as music hub, especially for 512mb ram devices.

Nope. But Id put up with slower if they'd even have bothered to try to make the app graceful and well-designed. Then we could say, ok, good foundation, now they can iterate on performance. But this?

you know, all you guys ar ejudging an app that is barely out of preview state and just entered beta state, all in all, yea, this app has a great base, its lacking features that the original had yes, but its catching up pretty damn fast, and whats more, it will get updated more, the whole reason the old player was abandoned was because it was baked into the OS, which required full OS updates to make any chnages to it, so they built a new one from scratch that would be independent from the OS. you are using a pre release verison of WP8.1, and while the OS itself is considered "finished" that doesnt mean all the apps are, wait until WP8.1 officially releases before you judge anything in based off of bugs/incompleteness.

Well I understand your argument. My disagreement is that unfortunately I do that think there is a great base. It is not the bugs, nor the lack of features, that are so annoying to me. It is the sub-par base design. Perhaps this will be sorted out in the update process but it would be a very unusual process to do so. Moreover, the design choices are sometimes so bad as to.leave one scratching one's head. Sometimes, they violate Windows Phone's own published best-practices guides for developers. The high bar they always set for these things leads to worry, disappointment, and annoyance when confronted with this.

Do I hope that will be corrected? Yes. My expectation instead is that performance will get fixed, requested features will get added, but in that process things will continue to feel and look tacked-on... kinda like Android.

I dont see that at all, I see a raw base template, one thats very clean, ready to be expanded on, a very flexible one, I think they can easily make that template work very well, my only real issues with it at the moment design wise are A) showing a download button next to every song thats being streamed.. very ugly and unecesary and B) showing songs that you have on your computer but not on your phone even thought you cant play them, then proceeding to tell you they cant be played (rather they not be in there at all if they cant be played!) maybe im biased because of my love for the old ZuneHD, but I think this apps beginnings look to be following it more closely, which is a plus for me.

As i tough, for at least 1 or 2 monts, Xbox Music Updates will be only lame bug fixes and other minimal things. And even after that, we are not sure they do a great job with the app. I hop they separate all the local stuff with the Xbox Music subscription, because I don't have a pass and I will never buy it. I don't want reminders of new artist in the homepage, just wasting data, or locked features that are only available for those who have a music pass (like smart dj, why they even put that thing as an option if it will be locked?).

YES!!!!!! All I want is a LOCAL music player that gets its album art and track information from the endless amounts of time I spent configuring it for every other device I've ever owned.

That's cool. I want a beautiful player that surfaces my local music, my subscribed music, and also includes new artist discovery and a music experience. There is no, zero, nada reason why all of those things can't be in the player. It just requires good design. Which is now realllllly lacking.

Still didn't fix the bug where Cortana will not find any of your streaming music. When I use the "Play [artist name]" voice command, She always says I have to turn on Music Streaming when it's already on :(

I will feel like my phone is broken until they fix this.  Why don't they at least change the message to say "I'm sorry, I'm not smart enough to find cloud music in your collection yet."  Since not many people mention this problem I'm wondering if some people are able to play their cloud collection from Cortana.  I've been waiting for this feature since WP7, and now that it's here, it is broken.

I've read that this is supposed to work with your streaming music collection. I read a thread on reddit somewhere that stated that this is actually a WP8.1 install bug and if you wipe your phone and start over, it will actually work with streaming music. But I haven't been able to confirm that otherwise. And I haven't tried it.

Hmm.  I have a spare Lumia 521 that I haven't upgraded yet that I was keeping around to compare WP8.1 with WP8.  But now I'm tempted to upgrade it so I can try this out.  I don't want to wipe my Lumia 1020 or else I'll lose my saved game on Spartan Assult (WP is the only platform I haven't finished it on).  If I update the Lumia 521 I'll report back my findings.  Until then, it would be nice if one person could speak up if they have streaming music working from Cortana.

It actually works on my Lumia 521 after upgrading!  No need to reset after upgrading.  Rediculously, Cortana will even play streaming music even when streaming music is turned off in the Music app!!!  I'm wondering if the difference between my Lumia 1020 and my 521 is that I had previously installed the Xbox Music beta app on the Lumia 1020 before upgrading to 8.1. 

Hey Microsoft!  Your code to check whether streaming music is turned on is broken!  Please do us a favor and search for "when streaming music is turned off in the Music app" in the resource strings.  Then right-click on the string constant and choose "Find All References".  It should take you to the code that is incorrectly determining if streaming music is turned on.  It should be an easy fix!

They fixed it!  They fixed it!  Version 2.5.3965.0, released yesterday has resolved this issue on my Lumia 1020!

Zune was their best music player. It hardly had any big bugs it was fast and was extremely organized compared to the current Xbox music piece of crap. Plus it had its own software with probably the most beautiful UI ever. And it was very easy to sync your music collection WITH album artwork.

ZuneHD was by far the most beautiful mp3 playing experience  ever had, the only thing i would of preferred to be changes was a dedicated volume button and play/pause button! the ui was amazing, and id love to see a mpore refined verison of it on WP8.x

I will not be opening the 8.1 app again until it becomes decent like the old one. Maybe this update will fix the app to actually load when starting...

Tip: If you don't let the 8.1 app to sync your cloud collection (that's if your cloud collection is a mess like mine -music junkie here w/ 80Gb's of music)...the old music app becomes WAY more functional for just localized music.

-or you could just use Nokia Mix Radio...

Fixed my issue of not being able to delete several "phantom" playlists.  The "infinite shuffle" as someone else has stated is not fixed for me, it is still only shuffling A's-B's.  Seems faster thankfully. 

Anyone else notice that it is a "Universal app"? Does that actually mean anything on a free app that requires a MS account anyways?

Thanks Sam, I did read that article. My point was more along the lines of is there really any point? I love that with Universal Apps you can buy once, share IAPs..... With Xbox Music there is no benefit to the end user so I guess it is now a Universal App to make things easier on MS's devs.

It's just a nice indicator that it's the same app built for all Windows devices. It's important because when WP and WinRT eventually merge, we know our apps are still there. The weird thing though is that the Windows 8.1 Xbox Music app has more features than this crappy one for WP.

Thats probably because not all of the code base is shared between the apps. I think I have read it is somewhere around 80% is shared.

Yea, the absurd, amateur, incompetence that it takes to not only release it with the popping noises between each and every track but to allow it to stay this long. . . smh. . . Just incredible, makes me wonder if they they have ever used it. .

Well okay, like I said earlier in the thread, I'm fine with bugs. Bugs are great. I want more popping sounds in fact, if they would just redesign the app from the ground up otherwise. Lol.

Yea, it's been crap since it replaced Zune, sure it was Beta then, now its regressed to ALPHA we should cut them some slack... It's always some excuse but its now going on years since Zune and at some point you would expect your mobile media consumption device to actually play media without ruining the experience.

Yeah getting that annoying voice while  using scrubber as well as on press and hold rewind / forward button.

Sometimes pressing hold rewind goes crazy and keep rewinding across the tracks forever (in which case, I found closing and opening app is the only way out to get the tracks playing again)! TBH, TubePro is better than XBM in audio experience ATM; except it pauses audio for a second when you lock screen..

XB Music's image was destroyed as soon as it arrived. Hope Microsoft is not doing hard to add insult to the injury, but working aggressively on the damm fixes.

Collective feedback from users:

"Replicate Zune experience and don't invent anything new in XBM unless it is 'in addition' to what we had in Zune and not replacing the existing functionality."

^^This is what we want^^ Please don't complicate it and hence screw it!!

TIA.

I'm glad someone said this. I was very close to hard reset to try and fix. It drives me crazy! It seems they were trying to get the songs to play closer together but forgot to clear the buffer completely. Ugh!

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