Microsoft today released Xbox Video for Windows Phone 8, filling a major gap for the platform and providing customers with a way to access their video collections on the device of their choice. The Windows Phone app joins other ways to access the Xbox Video service on Windows 8.x, the web, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Not surprisingly, Xbox Video for Windows Phone 8 looks and works much like its Windows 8.1 sibling, with the same nice black color scheme and same high-level views for Collection, TV and Movies. As a phone app, Xbox Video of course uses portrait orientation for in-app navigation and offers a multi-screen panoramic experience.
If you've been buying movies and TV shows on Xbox Video, you'll find them in the Collection view. Here, you see what's played most recently plus recent TV shows and movies, and you can navigate to a full collection interface with nice album art and separate Movies and TV views.
Individual content landing pages offer Details, Reviews, Cast, and Related views for movies and Overview (with season selection), Description, Extras, and Related views for TV shows. You can stream videos through the Store to your device or download them for offline viewing. (You must be connected to power to download.)
You can also pin movies and TV shows to the Start screen and share them through Facebook or Twitter.
The playback experience also works as expected with subtitles when available, a nice scrubber bar for navigation and all the usual bells and whistles.
One of the big questions about Xbox Video for Windows Phone is whether the app displays HD video. According to a note on the Xbox Video web site, it only provides SD video. But in watching a few minutes of a few different movies on the large-screen Lumia 1520, I'm pretty happy with it. If this is SD, it's very high quality SD. And the download times are blazingly fast over Wi-Fi: About 10 minute for a two hour movie.
As expected, you can also purchase content from the Xbox Video Store from the app. It does let you purchase SD or HD versions of movies and TV shows, so they'll be in HD elsewhere if you make that choice. But when you rent a movie, only SD is offered since you'll be watching that rental on the device. I purchased an HD movie to test the process, and it worked as expected: The version I downloaded to the device was of course SD, but I can access the HD version on the Xbox One and elsewhere.
I'm happy to finally have Xbox Video on Windows Phone 8. This is one app every Windows Phone 8 user will want to download immediately.