Windows Phone 8.1 Xbox Music
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Xbox Music updated, start playlists using Cortana

Xbox Music has just been updated for those on Windows Phone 8.1. Now can you please stop asking? Last week we reported that an update was due for the Xbox Music app. We’re getting reports that the update is now available. Ready for an improved app?

Head into the Windows Phone Store and you’ll see ‘Music’ sitting at version 2.5.2842.0. The changelog for the update informs us that the following changes are present:

  • General performance improvements
  • Bug fixes

Yeah, that’s as detailed as it gets in the changelog, but we know there’s more there. Last week we learned about incoming Cortana integration and more. Here are the features that Microsoft aimed to include in this release:

  • Numerous stability fixes, including many of the reported black screens
  • Cortana integration is complete and now supports playing playlists by name
  • UI polish to improve animations and transitions between UI views
  • Improved messaging for encountered errors, such as unplayable content in collections
  • Background initial sync of local and cloud content

We do see the Cortana integration. Say something like ‘Play, <name of playlist>’ to have a specific playlist start playing. The other changes above you’ll have to spot while playing around with the app a bit more. So far we’re noticing it to be zippier between transitions while navigating the app. It also seems to be a little more stable.

Grab the updated app and let us know what you think! We’re looking forward to the bi-weekly releases for this app. Look for another update in two weeks.

Download Music from the Windows Phone Store.

Thanks for the tip everyone!

QR: Xbox Music

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Reader comments

Xbox Music updated, start playlists using Cortana

435 Comments

All working fine now except still laggy sometimes and artwork does not show on lock screen. WIP.

Also want swipe artwork for next song, which I believe is being returned soon.

Loving the select playlist from Cortana ❤

They aren't going to release a "new" one, just update and fix the one we now have. It's far from perfect at the moment, but I'm certain they'll improve it to work even better than the one that was built into WP8. I know a lot of people are upset that they decoupled the music and games hubs from the OS itself, but I believe it's a very smart move as it now allows them to update the experience without having to send out an upgrade for the OS. Plus, if people don't want to use Xbox Music, they don't have to. There are many other apps, and WP8.1 is finally optimized to allow easier music management through the PC or Mac.

I agree, but from the beginning they should have built it to work perfect just few bugs here few there, and the oldest one- music and games - were and still great, useable, and the best.
What I mean is that next time when someone who want to build and publish an app he\ she must test it and use it for long time and Xbox music app was available 1 year ago.

Beginning?? 8.1 isn't even officially released to the general public.. What beginning are you referring too? Are you a developer? If not quit complaining and wait for the official release next round.

This app is available in store 6 months ago, and from the beginning mean that they should have tested it internally before make it the primary app for 8.1

Or you'll look like a jerk.

Like it or not, his point is valid.  The music experience on windows phone has been steadily declining since WP7, so, yeah.

That's what.

Still no artist live tile wallpaper, and anyone has noticed that artist picture is a little bit tight!? I'm a little bit too perfecfionist, and the way it is loaded, lags a bit

That's true, but i think the added ability as the article says is you can now play 'playlists' with cortana, so perhaps that wasn't possible before.

Half-working, artist backgrounds still appear on my 8.1 lock screen. The dev is kinda stubborn though, I asked if he'll update his app to work with the new XBox Music app and he said it should be Microsoft who should be updating the app and not him. WHAT THE HELL.

No actually. Xbox music doesn't take artist images the way the music hub used to. There's no way hr can make MPATool work for Xbox music right now, unless MS changes the way it takes the images.

I don't think its compatible, I had a few album covers that added correctly but most didn't :( And Microsoft does not have images for a lot of the artists I listen to

Yeah, but that's not really saying much. So disappointed with Microsoft for really screwing this app up so badly.

Remember, Microsoft said that the app would not be in the state it is in now when the official release comes out, but remember when they released the developer preview they had to have at least A app for music... Even if it wasn't too great, unless your saying you was wiling to wait another month or two for the developer preview just so u can have the music app at its best from day one... Give them the time they need to actually improve the app, it doesn't happen over night.

Some of what is targeted for the series of coming releases:

•Continued focus on Stability and Performance improvements

•Background initial sync of local and cloud content (Note: This had been targeted for the last store update, but we pushed it out one more release to do some additional testing)

•Fast Forward/Rewind by sliding progress bar in a song

•UX layouts on buttons and metadata in now playing to better utilize space and make for better interaction

•Support for large play queue(including playlist) greater than 100 songs

•Improved load times for long lists through better list virtualization

•Swipe Gesture to Advance on Now Playing

•Live Tile and Transparent Tile support

•Design & Layout improvements to get you to your content faster

•Kids Corner support

•UX improvements (Search result grouping, creating new Radio Stations, improved Network status messages, Blue UI language alignment, and more)

In those design & layout improvements, I hope you are trying to keep overall visual engagement high in your minds. I mean, it appears completely forgotten. Like: big artist art? animations? a beautiful now playing screen? consistency with the pre-established design concepts of the OS? This stuff is pretty important on a platform which had design toward the top of its list of selling points.

People aren't buying an app to get to the old Music + Video only because of the performance issues in this new app. They're also doing it because this app is depressing. It's pedestrian, ugly, Android design. There's no other way to say it. (Don't beat yourselves up though, a lot of the new apps have that issue!) Here's a guide: when people new to Windows Phone apps open them, they're supposed to say, "Oh wow that's gorgeous." (my iOS friends said that to me when they saw my phone, all the time.) Clearly you USED to know how to do this.

sorry to say you like this but if you really are Xbox Music team then please remove the loading screen because since it is a native music app, a native music app should me as fast as it can be and loading screen just screw your 4-7 seconds which is really irritating for a native music app or atleast add an option to "not show loading screen", 

Wont you agree, apart from the equivalently slow resuming and no playlist support, mixradio is much better than Xbox music ?
It even has a live tile, and doesn't load artist/song/album lists after the first time !

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't mix radio strictly for streaming music. I couldn't see any option or tab for playing the music that's on my hard drive when I installed it. If that's the case then is not exactly a comprehensive alternative for people who don't stream.

Can we make playlists on phone now? Also does the cloud sync work both ways seamlessly? I have had issues with things on phone not syncing to cloud but only syncing other each round. Also, is the animated live tile back?

Does new playlist or song collection sync back to cloud so that I can then pick it up on my Windows 8? I know that wasn't working till January.

Yes, tap/hold song in song list or bring up album from artist or album list. Tap album name, tap/hold song, same 'add to'  option.

UI OVERHAUL PLEASE....THIS SUCKS!! WHY IS IT THAT ALL THE NATIVE APPS I LOVE ON WINDOWS PHONE(XBOX GAMES HUB & MUSIC) HAVE ALL BEEN ROLLED BACK TO UGLY UI VERSIONS AND LESS FEATURES. THEY TALK OF STANDALONE APPS TO BE UPDATED...CAN'T THEY JUST MAKE IT APPEALING IN THE FIRST PLACE? TALK OF FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT? THIS IS うそをつく

They only recently started rebuilding the apps as actual apps. The hubs were a great experience, but decoupling them from the OS allows them to update without rolling out a new OS update that can be slowed by carriers and manufacturers. They're rebuilding the experience from the ground up and are allowing those who don't use Xbox Music greater choice in how they obtain and play their music. Don't forget, however, that Windows Phone 8.1 has not actually been rolled out to the general public. The only people running it right now are developers and enthusiasts who don't mind bugs in exchange for bleeding edge software. By the time WP8.1 is released to the general public, the Xbox Music experience will largely be fixed. They will then be able to focus on changes through user feedback.

Well in my opinion it was perfectly fine as it was before and didnt need to be enormously updated (apart from playlists). So why didnt they keep it as a native app? Apparently native apps run much faster than store apps..so this will only negatively impact the fluidity of which windows phone is known for.

My thoughts exactly. A music and video player doesn't need constant updates. It needs speed and good playback features. Just give it features in an OS update, and just leave it alone for another quarter-year or so while you build for the next release.

I'm almost willing to bet my house on the fact that this new xbox music app will NOT be any better than the old wp8 one by the time of the public release. They have just screwed it up so bad and its been this bad for nearly 6 months. I see no light ahead for this team.

I agree, it's nice they can update faster, but did you need to make it worse to start off. I just don't think Microsoft know much abut music.

Lets see how it turns out when WP 8.1 becomes generally available.

 

After all it is still in preview, so MS still has time to ramp up the features in these apps.

 

Fingers crossed. :)

For once this comment makes sense. It does seem slightly faster now. Hope the "black screen" bug is gone too, it would be a good start.

Oh dear god...the black screen bug pisses me off..aaaand it just happened to me.....ugh. C'mon Microsoft get it together. Im giving you two more updates and I'm cancelling my music pass....

But yet it's still laggy and doesn't displaly my list instantly like before. I should never have to see Loading.... But it does at least seam a little faster.

You cant help it easily. Its not a native app so it is bound to show resuming etc once in a while. I wonder why MS didn't find a way to keep it native while still allowing it to be updated ?

Exactly! It didnt need to be updated heavily. Maybe a few tweaks here and there which would be enough with GDR updates between different versions of the OS. It was perfectly fine and fully functional as it was before. So why not keep it that way? 

It's a start, but we have a long way to go... It still sux, and it's gonna take a lot of updates to make it a great music experience... They could've at least gave us a transparent tile..

You sure? I could swear I used to be able to flick / swipe forward or back to the next or previous track in WP8... Ever since I installed 8.1 I'm no longer able to do that.

I'm sure.. It was in WP8.0 because that was a different app,,, one built into the OS... The XBM app in WP8.1 is totally different..

I see! I get it now... Well in that case someone better bring that back, or at the very least, offer an app that has that feature... It is such a natural gesture that you wonder why it's not automatically included... Thanks for the info...

Barely. It still makes me angry every time I open it. Still takes 3 minutes to get to, and load an album I want to play. Unacceptable

They probably abandoned development of this app after it was released.. MS probably wanted all attention directed towards getting WP8.1 done in time... Now, they have resumed development on it... They should've just hired Rudy to continue development of the app...

Can't update it, now it says it's not available in my country (it was before this update rolled out). Yesterday installed Nokia Mix Radio (had to change the region to US, 'cause that's not available here either), but that's a laggy mess. And now they're cutting off Xbox Music? What am I supposed to listen music on?

Some of what is targeted for the series of coming releases:

•Continued focus on Stability and Performance improvements

•Background initial sync of local and cloud content (Note: This had been targeted for the last store update, but we pushed it out one more release to do some additional testing)

•Fast Forward/Rewind by sliding progress bar in a song

•UX layouts on buttons and metadata in now playing to better utilize space and make for better interaction

•Support for large play queue(including playlist) greater than 100 songs

•Improved load times for long lists through better list virtualization

•Swipe Gesture to Advance on Now Playing

•Live Tile and Transparent Tile support

•Design & Layout improvements to get you to your content faster

•Kids Corner support

•UX improvements (Search result grouping, creating new Radio Stations, improved Network status messages, Blue UI language alignment, and more)

I know this is a little of topic but why did they remove the ability to find/purchase new videos from Xbox Video? All I can find are the ones I already own.

No, they didn't. I guess you're using Transparency Tiles, because it's a bug in the app that the tile opens your collection, not the app. Try opening the app from your app list.

When you click on the now playing button the list appears right at the top of the screen under the systemsbar with time and connectivity stuff. Cortana playlist integration is quite cool actually.shame she doesnt understand foreign artists or playlist names properly. but at least you can say - play some music and she shuffles around and also stop music to stop.

When did you receive the update?
I have duplicate folders as well in my photohub and the last update I received was yesterday

I do that, and it plays some random song. For instance, I'll say, "Play Classic Rock." It translates my voice perfectly at the bottom, then Cortana says "ok, playing classics" then sends me to some random song. I don't get it.

Now all we need is an updated desktop sync app so I can share my playlists to my 920 again add I have content that cannot be cloud matched

We're both right. You could start playing music with Cortana, but I don't think she did playlists. Microsoft themselves this update completes the Cortana integration by adding playlist support.

Coincidently, i tried for the first time yesterday using Cortana to play a playlist and it worked. 

Said play playlist "name", 

Checked my dl history and i dont have the new update yet, so i think it was already there.

Actually for me I meant playlists in specific; as I would just say "Play Music-Main" or Play "quran" and Cortana would bring up her DJ like reponse of "And now.. XXXX" (interestingly though the one playlist she would never recognize as a playlist, and instead would bing search was one called "Study music" ) 

I have noticed that I can say, "Can you play <song name>" and it plays but if I say, "Can you play the next song?", she recognizes that I want to play the next track but it doesn't work.

Same here it craps out at the black loading screen after the music splash screen... pisses me off, I have to use the hey dj app until its fixed or I might have to factory reset my phone.

Playing all songs still only pulls a 100 or so songs, so the app is still useless for me, all i want is to shuffle all my songs :/

 

Back to Nokia MixRadio then

Same here! Not being able to shuffle through all songs is probably the worse thing about the app. But they'll fix that in due time.

Plus you don't have to sign up for an Xbox music pass @$9.99 /mo to play music you already own!

I refuse to pay $9.99 a month to play my music that I already own! That's just stupid!

Who says you have to pay for music you already own? Just transfer it to your phone and you're good to go.

that doesn't fix anything, the shuffle is clearly broken, it plays a limited amount of songs and it's not really random

Hmmm, i was able use cortana to play playlist yesterday in my car with bluetooth

 

Said play playlist "name" and it worked.  Tried saying shuffle, but that didnt. 

 

In any case, dont think it is a new feature. 

Hopefully the app is optimized because it is pretty laggy at times.  Using a 1020. 

That's coming in one of the updates, tought they stated something about updating Xbox Music to follow Windows Phone 8.1 design guidelines.

It still doesn't show my whole collection.  This thing is just such a mess, on ALL platforms of the ecosystem.  For example, I have two Wang Chung albums--Points On The Curve and Mosaic.  Both are actually on my PC, and they show up in Library.  They both ALSO exist in the Music Store.  I have "Show streaming music in my collection" turned ON on my Lumia 1020.  However, the only album that shows up is Mosaic.  I see this several places all over my collection.  Frankly, I'm quite tired of killing the Library and forcing all my devices to re-acquire it in the futile attempt to get Xbox Music to see ALL my music correctly and all the album art.

Yup, nothing but issues here with my own collection. Random matching, random douplicate downloads, and all sorts of other crap that constantly messes with my collection. I think the only way to fix this mess for the time being is to delete my entire personal library and go with nothing but subscription music. Thankfully i got a years pass for only 30 bucks or i would have cancelled it already. What a mess...

Xbox Music is not a developer preview. It's a standalone app that they thought was good enough to replace the Music+Videos Hub. At this point, every single smartphone on the planet aside from any running Windows Phone 8.1 can play music with its native music app. Not us, though. Apparently their subscription service isn't all that important to them since they've entirely broken support for it on their own flagship devices. The Xbox Music team is either being mismanaged or the developers don't care about what we want. I'm guessing they're being mismanaged.

It is faster but still laggy with local music. It still seems to have to load the music everytime the app starts. Kind of disappointed but at least it is more usable now.

Still runs like shit on a cold winters day for me. Takes too long to load artists or albums, and is still considerably slower compared to the 8.0 app.

As much as I love and support Microsoft and it's products and services, Xbox music is the one and only thing I can't stand. I mean what kind of fool (sucker) pays 10 bucks a month to play music he already owns?
Nokia Mix Radio (formerly Nokia Music) for me please!

I use a pass to download whatever I want from the store and don't own. I listen to 99% of my music on phone while I commute to and from work. Its a good deal for me...or was before they broke xbox music.

Fuck Cortana, fix the ficking app and make it usable, so lame. Adding new faetures to a crappy music app, thanks for nothing.

Still a major eyesore in my opinion! The look is just horrible. The artist art is off centered and stupid. I know its the same look as Xbox Music on w8, but I prefer the old look.

yeah, the basic playlist support (limited to ~100 songs) is kind of appalling. I don't know the reasons behind it, but I hope its a good one.

Not available in Colombia. Had to change region to US to update :/ hope they fix this because the updates for this app should be available for anyone. Many people could get stuck with the horrible first version of Xbox music and get annoyed when update to 8.1

The biggest negative of upgrading to 8.1 is having to use the Music app. The old baked-in music player was better. e.g. when searching the store, results included artwork, now they're just text; in WP8 my car could read the content of my phone so I could browse it on the car's touchscreen, that's gone now. Hopefully it will all get sorted in time.

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