In my post about why I think Windows Phone “sucks”, I talk about various items I think that need to be fixed in Windows Phone. Here I go into details on what I feel are features in the Music and Videos app that need tweaks and fixes.
With the new Windows 8/RT Xbox Music app, I was able to match and create cloud versions of my entire music collection in the cloud. As a pleasant surprise, I was able to see the entire collection on my phone when I signed in with the same Microsoft account. All great, but some important pieces were missing.
Search for music: There was no apparent way to search for music on my phone. I may be missing something, and if so, please let me know in the comments, but it is absolutely not obvious how to search for music within my collection. I can only browse the collection.
Content source: Looking at the list of songs, it is not clear if the song is in the cloud or on the device. In these days of limited data plans, it would be a disaster if I start playing my music on the phone without realizing it is all streaming from the cloud. Please note, I feel that having my entire music in the cloud and available to me on the phone is actually a great feature. I only wish there was a way to easily see if a song is in the cloud or on the device.
Xbox Video on phone: As of now, there is no way to play purchased Xbox Video content on the phone. A head-scratcher, for sure.
Podcasts: Oh boy. Where do I start with Podcasts? First of all, why in the world would podcasts not be available everywhere Windows Phone is available? I simply don’t understand what licensing/rights argument could be the reason, but the issue has been around since Windows Phone launched and there was hope that with the Windows 8 internals, this would be solved. It has not been solved.
Secondly, there is still no way to know when the phone checks for new episodes for a podcast. I expected to see either an auto-refresh-on-open or a manual option to check for new episodes but I see neither. I also don’t understand when or how a check is triggered so essentially I have to hope that when I need to listen to podcasts (when I start my commute), that new episodes for that day have been downloaded. The other hack which I know works sometimes is to unsubscribe and re-subscribe to the podcast to force download a new episode. Clearly, this is a horrible experience for the user.
Playback speed: What I love about iOS music player is its ability to set playback speed. This is immensely useful for podcasts and audio books. I am subscribed to a number of daily podcasts and being able to zip through them is important. By playing episodes at 1.5x speed, I am able to finish episodes very quickly. Unfortunately, such a thing does not exist in Windows Phone’s native music playback controls. Perhaps some third party apps may be able to implement such a feature, but it is disappointing that it is not in the native music player.
For more about this series of posts, see the main post here.