No one is a bigger fan of Xbox Music than I am, as witnessed by my free Xbox Music Field Guide e-book. But as anyone who has used the new Xbox Music app for the recently released Windows Phone 8.1 will tell you, this latest mobile app interface to the service has a bunch of issues. The good news? Microsoft knows about the problems and will fix them quickly. And it's going to make changes to Xbox Music on other platforms too.
Two points before moving on to what's getting fixed.
1. Here we see the benefits of Microsoft's decision to "de-integrate" much of the functionality in Windows Phone 8.1. Because Xbox Music is now a standalone app that is decoupled from the core OS, it can be updated more frequently.
2. While Windows Phone 8.1 has been "finished," it's not technically shipping publicly. That will happen first with new phones in the coming month and then via upgrades for existing phones in the months after that. So it's forgivable if not completely understandable that Xbox Music for Windows Phone 8.1 isn't quite done yet.
Anyway. Here's what's changing in an update to the Windows Phone 8.1 Xbox Music app that is due this coming week.
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
Better performance thanks to a background initial sync of local and cloud content
Frankly, the big one there for me is the performance. This app is currently very slow, especially when you try to view your collection.
But there's more.
In addition to this week's fixes, Microsoft is also promising the following changes "in coming releases" of Xbox Music, which the firm says it will deliver "bi-weekly."
More stability and performance improvements. Or, a "continued focus on stability and performance"
Live Tile integration
Quickplay improvements, including "recent" lists
Kids Corner support
User experience improvements, including search result grouping, new radio station creation, improved network status messages, Windows 8.1 UI language alignment, Now Playing improvements and more
Still not satisfied? You will want more?
Fine, there's more: Microsoft has also created a UserVoice web site for Xbox Music so that users can make suggestions for the service on any platform. The firm says it will prioritize future updates based on this feedback.