With the release of iTunes Radio just around the corner, Microsoft has decided to takes its music streaming service to the next level. Xbox Music got a major overhaul back in June with the release of Windows 8.1’s developer preview, but now there is even bigger news regarding the service. Xbox Music has finally become available on the web for free, at least for the next six months, supported with ads. Even more importantly, we now also have official Xbox Music apps for iOS and Android. One can certainly understand Microsoft’s logic behind initially launching Xbox Music as a Windows 8 & Windows Phone-exclusive, but the time has been ripe for the jump to other platforms for quite a while now. Thanks to the Xbox Music app, you can maintain and expand your song collection, manage playlists, or simply listen to any song you want. The service’s radio feature is also a part of Xbox Music for Android and iOS.
In order to use Xbox Music on your smartphone, it is mandatory to sign in with a Live ID that has a Music Pass associated with it. Even if you don’t want to spend any cash right away, Xbox Music offers a free 30-day trial for Music Pass, but you will have to head to the service’s website to sign up, as the app has nothing more than a login form on its welcome screen.
Once signed in, Xbox Music looks for songs that are already in your collection on other devices. If you are new, learning everything about Xbox Music isn’t too tough. Simply hit the menu button in the top-left corner, and use the search box available there. Search results yielded by any keyword include entries for artists, albums and songs. Simply tap a track to start listening to it in the Xbox Music player. The player is pretty simple, and doesn’t offer much apart from the usual playback controls and album art.
While your Xbox Music Collection is associated with the account and is synced over the cloud, Playlists can be used for organizing tracks on the device. You can add a whole section of search results to a playlist, or long-press a track to add it individually.
On an iOS device, you can initiate a radio session by accessing any artist’s options, followed by the ‘Start radio’ button. A radio station consists of tracks that are somehow related to the chosen entity, or at least belong to the same genre. On Android, however, no such option exists, but there is a rather prominent play button on different artist pages that can be used to create an instant playlist containing all the songs on the current page.
At present, Xbox Music only allows online streaming on iOS and Android, but Microsoft has promised to add downloading options to the apps in the future. So, whether you already own a Music Pass or want to take the service for a test run for the first time, head to the links below and grab it for your phone.