Microsoft clarifies what’s new with Xbox Music in GDR2: fixed cloud collection and more

GDR2 is slowly rolling out to Windows Phone 8 handsets around the globe. Some devices, like the Lumia 925 and 1020, already come with GDR2 preinstalled. For everyone else, the updates are slowly coming.

We’ve always had a pretty good idea of what’s new in GDR2, but some items were slightly vague. For example we knew Microsoft made "improvements to Xbox Music", but didn’t know exactly what that meant. Thanks to a blog posting by the Windows Phone team, we now know what's changed.

We’ve lamented the regressed music experience in Windows Phone 8 with Xbox Music compared to Zune on Windows Phone 7 before, so it’s nice to see Microsoft improving the experience (although we wish the rate was faster). Here’s what’s been improved in GDR2 on Windows Phone 8 for your Xbox Music cloud collection:

  • We fixed a bug that caused duplicate songs to appear on phones when users copied over a song from their PC that also exists in their cloud collection. (To remove existing duplicates on your phone, you’ll need to update your PC companion app, then delete and re-sync your music.)
  • We now sync cloud collection to the Music+Videos Hub more frequently, so tweaks you make on the PC are reflected more quickly on the phone.
  • We made it easier to select multiple—or all songs—from cloud-based playlists and download them to your phone

The idea behind the cloud collection has always been appealing to us, but it has been a frustrating experience in the past with duplicate songs and a slow sync rate between PC and phone. Microsoft claims the fixes for the cloud collection in GDR2 will result in fewer instances of wrong album art popping up and albums getting split into two.

The team has also made other small improvements and fixes with Xbox Music in GDR2. Here’s what else you can look forward to:

  • Steps taken so artists, song, or album metadata doesn’t inadvertently get overwritten. Metadata is now looked up to your music only if synced track is missing key info
  • Issues fixed that prevented former Zune Pass and current Xbox Music subscribers from playing tracks with DRM on their phone
  • Transfer playlists made in the Music app on Windows 8 to your Windows Phone. You’ll need both the latest updates for the Music and the Windows Phone app on Windows 8. Select a playlist and share with the Share charm to your phone. Currently only on x86-based devices.
  • Streaming has been improved. Tracks less likely to skip or pause because Xbox Music will start fetching the next track before the current one you’re listening to fades out.

All these changes are very welcomed for Windows Phone 8 users who have been frustrated with Xbox Music and its slow progress. However, GDR2 won’t support Xbox Video, that won’t come until “later this year”.

Source: Windows Phone Blog

Sam Sabri