A Review By A Windows/ Windows Phone / Microsoft Fan
Groove Music on Windows 10 (and this includes everything that falls under this umbrella – desktop, mobile, tablet, Xbox) is nothing short of perfect. Well its at least 9/10. What could make it better at this stage? The only thing that comes to mind is support for the audiophiles – .flac downloads and streaming and proper mixer. On Windows 10 mobile, its a pleasure to use.
“Hey Cortana, play Rise Against radio” and Rise Against radio starts playing.
The interface, especially now with fluent design, is just great. And for music discovery, Groove beats out everything else I have tried.
With the imminent death, I mean, hiatus, of Windows Phone Mobile, I made my peace with the fact that I will have to look to the duopoly for my next phone. Apple won on the only fact that it is not Google. So to iOS we went. As a system, iOS is lacking some cool things from WinPhone, but it makes up for it with all the super extensive apps. Like wow. Some of the stuff you can do on just the Facebook apps on iOS is so far from what you can do on Windows, its like a completely new app… But moving on.
I subscribe to Groove Music. Microsoft’s streaming service built into Windows 10. And Since it came out of Xbox Music, it has gone from strength to strength. And now, 2 years later, its probably one of the best apps/services on Windows. Looking to find an app that understand fluent design, user interaction, and all the other stuff – Groove is your go to. As a streaming service, its missing family streaming. But all these cons cannot take away all the pros. Seriously – Groove Team – pat yourself on the backs for this one!
Installing Groove on the iPhone, you sign into your Microsoft account, remove Apple Music and away you go. This is when things start going south. The interface follows Apples guidelines, which is what every app on iPhone should do, but coming from the beauty of the UWP app on Windows, its just… Ugly. So flat and square but the menus are all rounded… So it looks outdated.
Now, I have a lot of music, so I tend to shuffle a lot. Are you ready for this? Right, so shuffle in Groove on iOS means it picks 80% of the songs starting with A, 15% of the songs starting with B and maybe 5% of C named songs. I have shuffled and shuffled. This ratio keeps coming up. In the past month or so, I have seen one song that starts with D. Don’t believe me? Check out the screenshot below. The shuffle is either broken or very broken.
Another feature I use, the Discovery playlists. These are simply so good on Windows 10. Like I have compared this with the gold standard that is Spotify’s Discovery Weekly, and I find I end up discovering a lot more new bands that I actively listen to through these playlists. On iOS – these do not exist. Maybe they are coming? Maybe its a draw for Windows? I don’t know. The playlists I get are all those based off my music. While these are fine to ensure no surprises, I really miss the discovery playlists when using this phone. When using my PC for music, I now gravitate to these playlists just incase I have missed something.
And yet another gripe – gapless playback… Yeah. Groove on iOS doesn’t have this. Its annoying, but since Windows Phone only got this a year or so ago, its something I can live with. I don’t *want* to live with it. But I can. I am sure its coming. I hope its coming.
This is all ok, Kyle, I use the radio feature. It is the best for music discovery after all, so its all I need. Sorry to burst your bubble. Radio is as bad as Spotify’s shuffle. You get the artist radio, two songs you have heard before or might be in your collection, then another song by the artist, then 3 songs that have definitely been played to death on the radio. Repeat ad nauseam.
So wrapping up. Groove on iOS is a lot like Groove in 2015 when it had just been rebranded from Xbox Music. Some stuff was the same, a new skin of paint, but the flaws and just general terribleness and rough edges were on display. I do believe it will get better. It has to. Groove on the desktop, to me, is the gold standard. Groove on iOS should grow up to be like that.
People ask me why I am so hard on Groove. I am sure the team is hard at work every day trying to deliver something that will delight and engage the customers, of this I have no doubt. And I sit here and just moan. Its because I believe with all the resources of Microsoft, with all the A.I. , cloud, learnings, everything that they are doing, they can really nail music. All aspects. Discovery, quality, social. Everything that everyone has trouble with. I believe Microsoft has the ability to really deliver and make both Groove the app and the service the gold standard, the ultimate. So I moan. I sit here and criticize in hope that I inspire the team to be better. Because I know that they can.