Xbox Music and Video apps for Windows Phone 8 hands on

This morning, Microsoft continued to surprise us with two new releases for Windows Phone 8. Xbox Music and Xbox Video apps were released in tandem, augmenting current baked-in functions of their mobile OS.

The Xbox Music app is currently in ‘Preview’, meaning a final version won’t be due until 2014. Likewise, Xbox Video currently doesn’t support HD video playback or downloading, but a Microsoft spokesperson has confirmed that feature is coming next year.

How are the apps? Watch our video tour below to see them in action.

So why separate the apps in the first place? Well for one, Microsoft did not have any method by which Xbox Video users could purchase, rent or download content from their Windows 8 PC, Xbox 360 or Xbox One. With this Xbox Video app, Windows Phone 8 users finally have a way to complete the “three screens and a cloud” vision that Microsoft laid out years ago.

Downloading and offline availability

In regards to Xbox Music, it’s been reported that Microsoft is planning on removing the native clients from the Windows Phone 8.1 update, due in late spring 2014, and instead they will be using Store apps. The reason for that is it will allow Microsoft to frequently update the app directly to reflect changes or improvements in the service. That’s opposed to having to wait months for an OS update.

Both apps work quite well, although we are having a few license errors with our Video app. Xbox Music, interestingly, allows users to dynamically swap out managed Xbox Music devices. Currently, Xbox Music only allows streaming and downloading of content to 4 devices, with the ability to drop two every 30 days. With the Xbox Music app, one device will be rotated out and a new one rotated in when in use, giving more freedom to use Xbox Music on PCs, Xbox or Windows Phone.

Probably the biggest addition to Xbox Music is the ability to create playlists and then have them sync to your account to other devices. Likewise for Radio. Currently, there is no Podcast support and it is not clear if it is coming back.

Presently, both Xbox Music and Xbox Video are available in the following regions: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.

Don’t have Xbox Music or Xbox Video just yet? Grab Xbox Music here and Xbox Video here in the Store. Note: Xbox Music Pass needed to for Xbox Music app to function.

What do you think of both apps so far? Sound off in comments and let us know your experience!

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.