Once upon a time Music on Windows Phone used to be a pleasure to play, then it turned into a PITA with Windows Phone 8.1 and marginally improved with the debut of Groove Music. At some point, I gave up on the service and went on to Spotify, feeling uncertain that the Groove team would ever be able to pull a rabbit out of a hat and save their app . Thankfully, I was wrong.
I’m not sure exactly what happened to the Groove team between September and November, but they seemed to snap out of whatever slump they were in and rapidly release improvements to the Groove Music apps. Radio and Explore returned, as expected. The team finally implemented gapless playback, added settings which allowed you to download all your music to your device, updated the user interface with nice transparency effects here and there. Beyond that, the app now finally works as expected. There are very few glitches, and it is as full featured as can be.
This is not to say the Groove Music app is perfect for everyone. The app prioritizes single user listening over social music and shared playlists, this may be an issue for some, but it can be argued that perhaps not every app needs to be a clone of another app. Not everyone is into social music, some just ant to build and listen to their own library. The auto-playlists feature can also be mimicked – though not completely – by Groove’s Radio feature ()
Another issue with Groove is that the app needs to be online to authenticate or start playing music pass files. While this process is really fast and often unnoticeable, it makes the music experience a little unwieldy at first as the device needs to authenticate you every single time you open the app. Perhaps the Groove team could look into making this process much faster. There is also the slight issue of the app being inconsistent in features. While the app on the phone is relatively full-featured, the PC app lacks a few features such as recent plays and recommended music, it also does not have the UI of the phone app which is ostensibly more suited for a desktop application when used in Continuum mode.
Issues aside, Groove Music for Windows 10 is a major step-up from Xbox Music of Windows Phone 8.1 and it gets better with every update. I’m actually happy to say that I think Groove Music is no longer “potentially good” but it is actually genuinely good.