Sep, 09 2013

One of web and technology’s biggest players — Microsoft — has officially announced the availability of Xbox Music for Android (as well as iPhone, and web users). The service has been up and running on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Windows 8 platforms for quite some time, but those of us who enjoy devices not within Microsoft’s repertoire were sadly left out. We’re glad to learn that is no longer the case.


The goods

The Android app looks to have been competently designed, with Microsoft striking a decent balance between Android and “Metro”-esque design. That said, the app doesn’t quite seem up to par just yet.

For starters, offline caching is not yet functional, though Microsoft does promise to bring the feature to folks in the months to come. It’s an odd feature to launch without. Where it might not be an issue on an Xbox 360 (where you’re typically always connected to the internet without any interruptions), mobile connections aren’t always the most predictable or reliable. It will be a tough sale for anyone who lives in an area that doesn’t exactly enjoy consistent 4G or even 3G speeds.

Xbox Music all 3 screens

The app is also missing out on Smart DJ support, which is basically Xbox’s version of internet radio. We could also do with an easier way to purchase songs (you’ll have to head to your Xbox 360 or a desktop PC to do that).

If you’re fine with that all that, though, you can enjoy over 30 million tracks from thousands of artists for free for the first 30 days. Beyond that, you’ll be asked to pay $9.99 per month (or $99 for a year, which comes out to be a cheaper option if you don’t mind a lump sum). Oh, and if you prefer to play music from your computer you’ll also be glad to know that Microsoft is releasing an update to their full web interface that can be accessed here from any browser.


A worthy competitor?

Is this enough to take on the big dogs like Google Play Music All Access and Spotify? Well, for yours truly, it isn’t. I was extremely excited to hear about Xbox Music coming to Android, because I have wanted to subscribe to the service since it launched. The only thing that was holding me back was the fact that I could only access the music on my Xbox 360 console.

I thought with a new app I would consider giving Microsoft my business over Google, especially when considering the fact that the shoe is now on the other foot — Google is the one without a viable option on all the platforms important to me. Still, I am hesitant to defect.

google-play-music-albums-2

For starters, the app is too limited at the time. If I could get full music purchasing and Smart DJ features right on my mobile device I’d be ecstatic, but those are two big features (alongside the aforementioned offline caching) that I just can’t find myself living without.

I’m also considerate of the price tag — I was lucky enough to get in on Google’s introductory price of $7.99 for Google Play Music All Access, and I am not willing to forego the long-term savings for what appears to be an inept experience. Alas, I still have no reason to ditch Google’s platform for Microsoft’s, and it will remain that way until Microsoft addresses all of the things I’ve mentioned above. Give it a shot in the Google Play Store if you’re interested.