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.
Microsoft has a cloud-based streaming music service for consumers with Microsoft Accounts. For a small monthly fee ($9.99), it’s possible to enjoy millions of songs unlimited number of times when on the move. That's on top of functionality in place to enjoy your own tracks (legally acquired, of course).
What makes Xbox Music an interesting pick for Windows Phone is the cross-platform friendliness. Not only is there an app for the mobile platform, but Xbox and Windows 8 too. That and Microsoft also released a web version for competitor platforms.
Up to four devices can be connected to a single Microsoft Account subscription, which can include a combination of multiple products – an example setup: Xbox One console, 2 Windows Phones and a Windows 8 PC. Two devices can be removed each month.
As well as streaming music between devices, Xbox Music also enables users to download and store tracks offline for access without an Internet connection. This feature is perfect for tablet owners on tight data plans or Windows Phones in use underground/in the air.
Microsoft has been updating its array of Xbox Music apps and while the Windows Phone version is no longer native alongside the videos portal, it’s an affordable option for unlimited access to millions of songs, spanning across all the popular genres.
You can download Xbox Music from the Windows Phone Store. Be sure to check out the Xbox Music website for a free 30 day trial to see if this option is for you. Free streaming is available through the web client with advertisements.
If you’re more into curated stations and mixes, as opposed to forming your own collection of music, Digital Imported may well be the choice for you. The service – better known as DI.FM (www.di.fm) – is a popular destination for those who enjoy trance, dance, dubstep and general electronic music.
DI.FM has an official app for Windows Phone, but the third-party alternative called Beem is a favourite of ours. The app has been frequently updated for those who are massive followers of electronic music, which is exactly what DI.FM specialises in.
An array of stations are available for tuning in and the service itself is accessible for no fee at all. Guests and basic account holders have to put up with infrequent advertising, but this isn’t a negative considering just how high the quality is when it comes to mixes and music available.
For a small fee ($7/mo or $60/yr), users can enjoy Digital Imported Premium, opening up even more stations to enjoy, not to mention the absence of advertising and higher quality streaming. As noted above, we’re huge fans of this app and the radio service as a whole.
There are a few highlight features of the unofficial DI.FM client, which include Last.fm and OneDrive support. Here’s some other bonus functionality:
- NFC sharing of tracks between apps
- Bookmark specific tracks
- Find tracks on Nokia Music & Xbox Music
- Live Tile support
While the radio stations on DI.FM may not appeal to everyone, there’s no denying Beem is a sweet app and the music service is a superb free way to enjoy the beat. You can also enjoy DI.FM straight through your web browser, just in case you’re interested in carrying on the rave while at your PC.
Ready to jam to some banging tunes? Download Beem from the Windows Phone Store for free.
Nokia has its own music service, separate of Microsoft’s Xbox Music. There are stark differences between the two options, however. While Microsoft’s service opts to provide users with a large collection of tracks for personalised mixes, playlists and catalogues to be formed (think Spotify), Nokia MixRadio heads down a similar path to DI.FM.
The service brings free, personalised music with zero advertising to Lumia Windows Phones. That’s the beauty of what Nokia has to offer consumers. Lumia Windows Phone owners can simply download, install and launch the app to enjoy a constant stream of music created just for them. Utilising a thumbs up and down system, the curated service adapts to what listeners enjoy.
Think of MixRadio as your very own radio station. The only issue with Nokia’s service, much like DI.FM, is there’s no way to listen to songs again. If you come across a song you just have to purchase, there is the option to go through to supported stores to download. An added bonus for MixRadio is the ability to store mixes for offline playback, though this is limited unless you upgrade your account.
And if you’re really enjoying the service, Music+ can be purchased for a small fee per month ($3.99), opening up some extra features:
- Unlimited song skipping
- Unlimited downloads (free account only allows four at a time
- Higher quality streaming and mix downloads
- Lyrics for those who enjoy singing along
SoundCloud (www.soundcloud.com) is a popular destination for music fans and artists to show off their own creative work. Audiocloud is a third-party app for Windows Phone, enabling consumers to explore, search and enjoy tracks available on the web service. Both SoundCloud and Audiocloud are free to use.
If you’re a major fan of the service, Audiocloud is a must-have on your Windows Phone(s). The app has access to all music available, depending on how artists have their uploads configured. Since SoundCloud is social focused (much like MySpace), users, groups, playlists, comments and more is supported by the app.
It’s a really neat way of search through new music and discovering talent you may have missed previously. The unofficial app for Windows Phone allows users to follow other SoundCloud members in the community and get latest track stream of people followed. Notifications can then be set up to be alerted as to when new material is uploaded.
Unlike services covered so far, SoundCloud emphasizes on freely available media. It’s possible to upgrade to "pro" status, but this is only requires should you actively upload music to the web service. If you’re simply looking to keep up-to-date with the latest content published online, you can do so at no cost.
Grab Audiocloud from the Windows Phone Store for free.
Our fifth and final app is Podcast Lounge, one of the more popular apps for podcast streaming. The app has been in development since the days of Windows Phone 7, originally formed as an unofficial BBC podcast client. Igneous Software has broadened the appeal of Podcast Lounge by adding in a new catalogue of podcasts, bringing with it international support.
If you're not familiar with the name, the app enables users to stream and enjoy a variety of podcasts covering multiple genres. There's not only offline playback included, but an incredible library of content available to satisfy diverse tastes. Back-ups, sync options and even smart playlists are just some of the highlights from Podcast Lounge.
It's the perfect solution for those who enjoy tuning into the thousands of podcasts available. You can download Podcast Lounge from the Windows Phone Store for $1.99. A limited trial is available, which sports the following restrictions:
- Downloads (user-initiated and automatic sync downloads) are disabled.
- Smart Playlists are limited to a maximum of 3 (those three can be renamed/edited to suit the user’s needs)
Other kick-ass music apps
There are apps we've missed on this round-up, but since we've limited our feature to just five, it's a tough one to populate. Here are some other first party Windows Phone apps worth downloading:
- Beats Music (store link)
- iHeart Radio (store link)
- JAZZRADIO (store link)
- Pandora (store link)
- ROCKRADIO.com (store link)
- SKY.FM Radio (store link)
- Songza (store link)
- Soundhound (store link)
- Spotify (store link)
- Tune in Radio (store link)
Agree with our collection, or do you feel an app you use should have made the list? Sound off in the comments as we’re interested to hear what you all use on a daily basis.
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.