Microsoft Opens Up Xbox Music For iOS Users

Michael Harper for – Your Universe Online

Days before an expected release of iOS 7, Microsoft has released their Xbox Music app for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. The subscription-based streaming music service is also available for Android devices and for free on the web.

Microsoft is leveraging Xbox Music as their all-in-one, platform agnostic music service, offering listeners a streaming radio option as well as paid subscription service much like Google Play Music or Spotify. While the music service will also work with Microsoft’s line of devices, including Windows 8 tablets, PCs and the Xbox console itself, it’s also branching out to capture as many customers as they can on multiple platforms.

The Xbox Music mobile app requires an Xbox Music Pass to sign in which costs $9.99 after a free trial. Windows 8 users and web users can listen to Xbox Music’s ad-supported streaming service for free. When iOS 7 launches, iOS users will also be able to listen to free, ad-supported streaming radio via Apple’s streaming service, iTunes Radio.

Those iOS users armed with an Xbox Music Pass can access the app’s features, which include free streaming from Microsoft’s catalogue of tens of millions of songs. These users can also keep their music collection of playlists and favorite songs in sync with other devices, including their Xbox console. Like other music services, Xbox Music offers radio streaming through the mobile app. This feature will later be added to the ad-supported web service in the coming months.

Microsoft promises “continued innovation” with their Music services which will in part allow users to continually create playlists based on the music they hear on the streaming Radio portion of Xbox Music. Later this fall, Microsoft plans to unroll their Web Playlist tool, a feature which “scans all the artists and music available on a given Web page and creates a custom playlist of all that music.” These playlists, like others, will be available across any Xbox Music-enabled device. This tool will be available in Windows 8.1 which is slated for an October 17 release.

Perhaps Xbox Music’s biggest flaw so far, however, is the current lack of offline streaming. With Google Play Music or Spotify, users can download their playlists to their device, saving them from streaming their music when outside of a Wi-Fi connection. Though Microsoft has launched the app without this handy functionality, they also claim this will come as a part of their “continued innovation.”

Apple fans had for years wondered when they’d be able to choose an iTunes subscription service instead of the current, pay per album or song model. While iTunes Radio isn’t quite a subscription service (iTunes Match users can stream radio without ads), it will allow users to stream radio stations built from their playlists or favorite artists. Listeners can also choose to listen to stations built around particular genres. With the exception of the web, however, only Apple devices will be able to stream iTunes Radio. This ties in with the iOS mobile devices as well as Apple’s living room accessory, Apple TV.