Microsoft announced today that it has shipped its long-awaited Xbox Music mobile apps for Android and iOS (iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad), and has extended free music streaming—previously a Windows 8/RT exclusive—to Xbox Music for Web. Despite a few limitations, both moves significantly enhance the reach of one of my favorite, if little-used, Microsoft services.
Indeed, the only problem I see with the fulfillment of the promised expansion into Android and iOS is that I'll have a harder time managing the number of devices I can use with Xbox Music Pass.
But here's what's happening today.
Mobile apps. Microsoft has released its first Xbox Music mobile apps for Android and iOS (iPhone, iPod touch and iPad). Microsoft previously released Xbox Music mobile apps for Windows 8/RT, Windows Phone 7.x/8, and the web. A version is coming with Xbox One, of course, and Windows 7 users can access the service in limited form through the Zune PC software.
Mobile apps are not full featured yet. Neither app supports offline playback (downloading) yet.
Mobile apps require Xbox Music Pass. These versions of the apps require an Xbox Music Pass, which I think is basically a requirement for anyone using Xbox Music.
Free streaming comes to Xbox Music for Web. The previously-released Xbox Music for Web client—which brings this service to older (Windows 7 and older) versions of Windows as well as Mac OS X, now supports free streaming. Previously a Windows 8/RT exclusive, this feature provides all users—not just Xbox Music Pass subscribers—with unlimited free streaming for six months and then limited streaming after that. Need more? Get Xbox Music Pass.
Radio for Xbox Music for Web. It's not available today, but Xbox Music for Web will be upgraded to support the Xbox Music Radio feature, previously called Smart DJ.
Web Playlist. This new feature for Xbox Music for Windows 8.1/RT 8.1 (and not Xbox Music for Web as the name suggests) scans for artists mentioned on a web page in Internet Explorer 11 and then creates a new, custom playlist based on that artist. Web Playlist is arriving October 18 with Windows 8.1, Microsoft says, and I'll be writing more about this soon.
This is a major set of updates, with more to come. Looks like I'll be releasing a few updates to Paul Thurrott's Xbox Music in the weeks and months ahead.