As a Zune MVP, it’s great to see that Zune has made its way into many of the properties at Microsoft (and beyond): Zune HD, Windows 7, Windows Phone, XBOX 360, Windows Media Center, Zune website, Bing, you get the idea. Zune has positioned itself as a go-to media portal for users. However, as one other MVP so duly noted, this isn’t exactly the full, complete experience all around. You could own every single thing that’s mentioned above (and I do), but I don’t feel I get any full 360-degree Zune experience. It can be maddening at times that what can be done on one tuner isn’t as elegant a task on another.
So, going into 2011, here are some things I hope Zune is able to correct/fix/add/nuke:
I would like my XBOX 360 to be able to read my personal library or at least know what music I already own. When you use Zune Music on XBOX 360 you’re streaming all of your music from the Zune Marketplace (which is fine). However, what if you want to stream a song that’s not available under Zune Pass, but — lo and behold — it’s sitting in your music collection? I would have to think that the purchase history that popped up on Zune’s website is a step towards remedying this situation.
Add audiobooks and friend’s cards to Windows Phone. Ok, maybe not the friend’s cards, but definitely add a way for me to sync audiobooks and channels. If we’re shooting for this all-in-one experience that most seem to gain from having a smartphone, then I would need to have everything on this phone available to me. While we’re on this subject, can we at least add multiple artist pictures to Windows Phone 7. They don’t have to animate, just be there.
Bring Zune Social back to Windows Live. What happened to Zune Social? Right now it’s still ahead of PING as far as being able to truly connect with users and share what music you enjoy, but who really makes the effort to go to the social site? Hell, who even clicks on the SOCIAL tab in the software? I like that the social was added to the XBOX 360 experience, but how social is it, really?
In fact, I’ll take this a step further, put Zune Social on par with the way contacts have their Windows Live and Facebook linked. When I pan over to the Zune Social tab of a contact’s tile it could simply give me the last 8 songs that they played and/or the 8 songs they marked as favorites. It’s high time that Zune Social be given the same kind of treatment and top billing that Facebook and Windows Live would get, especially since it’s still a far better service and setup than PING currently is.
Fade out Windows Media Player. Look, Zune is already part of the signature collections installations that the Microsoft Store does when people buy a new PC, isn’t it high time that we move the Windows Media Player team into Zune and dissolve the WMP product?
Smart DJ should be on Windows Phone. Anyone see this video that Zune put on their website that features friend’s traveling down a long winding road (seriously, who does this unless you’re going to Vegas?! I don’t remember just jumping into a car and driving for no apparent reason). Anyhow, the girl stops at a rest stop and uses her PC to sync some music. Frankly, she should be able to get Smart DJ on her phone and have it connect to the 3G Marketplace (assuming they can get any kind of phone signal out there).
Add album reviews to Zune HD. I was frankly surprised to see this first on Windows Phone and not on Zune HD, but it was a nice touch that the official album reviews (the ones you see in the Zune Marketplace) are available on the Zune/Windows Phone experience. It’s nice to be able to use reviews as a means to determine if a newly-discovered album is worth it.
Make Zune on Windows Phone a more social experience. One of the things I miss from Zune HD, when I’m using Windows Phone, is the ability to share out via Twitter or Facebook what songs I’m listening to. Either the official Twitter and Facebook apps get a music share button, or somewhere in the Zune playback experience there should be a share button that broadcasts to your friends the song you want to display. This again goes to adding Zune Social back to Windows Live. Windows Live Messenger already will display the songs you’re listening to, as you’re listening to them. Let’s keep that going.
Nuke Microsoft Points! When you see currency on Windows Phone, it’s jarring to go back to other connected tuners and get the message of “You don’t have enough points for this purchase!”.
A podcast streaming app shouldn’t have to exist. The Podcast! application for Windows Phone is excellent. It allows you to find your favorite podcasts and stream them. Understand this now: I’m able to listen to news updates throughout the day thanks to this app. Problem is, this shouldn’t have to exist. There should already be a native way to get over-the-air updates, at least of audio podcasts.
Increase the number of devices per Zune Pass account. The 3 PCs I can live with, the 3 devices however has to be increased (to at least 5). In an average family at least Mom and Dad (in MS’s perfect world) owns a Windows Phone 7. The kids may each have a Zune HD (or let’s face it iPod Touch). So if we’re hobbled by only being able to sync Zune Pass content to 3 devices, we’re in for a world of hurt if that isn’t increased.
Fix the Zune Pass account mess. This goes without saying. I understand, and this goes back to the previous point, one person with a Zune Pass account probably only has 3 devices: Windows Phone, Zune HD and Zune 120, for example. But that really isn’t the reality. Families everywhere are sharing Zune Pass so it’s becoming more needed that families be able to create a family Zune Pass account, much like the family account that’s currently available from XBOX Live.
Show off that Tegra chip in the Zune HD! Does anyone else remember when Zune was high-touting that Tegra chip as a “PC on a chip” or something like that? We were supposed to believe that this meant that Zune HD would become a formidable portable device. Games like Project Gotham Racing had users salivating at the possibilities of what this little device could do. And….cue the crickets! What happened? You can’t tell me that the Tegra chip in the Zune HD isn’t going to be pushed to any full limits…or that it already has!
Make audiobooks part of the Zune Marketplace. Simply put, if I can sync it to my device, I should only have to use the Zune software to do it! Come on, Microsoft, partner up with Audible and make the Audible store or something.
Oh, pick your jaw up off the floor. Being a Zune MVP doesn’t mean lying down and accepting everything that Zune releases. I’m sure blind fanboys of different technologies love to make shit look like chocolate pudding, but when you believe in something you should also be able to give it solid feedback and criticism, in the name of making it better.
I firmly believe in what Zune is doing (and trying to do for the future). These suggestions/ideas are just ways I think that Zune can head for that next level in 2011. Microsoft is already talking about tablet PCs (and you have to wonder if Zune will have any kind of presence in that space), but before we keep thinning out Zune’s imprint we should make sure that we’re going back and tightening up the integration that is already there.
When someone gets any device with Zune attached, right out of the box, they should instantly be able to connect to the Zune world without workarounds, hobbled solutions and the like. I would love to welcome as many people as possible into the Zune ecosytem, but my hello shouldn’t come in the form of smoke signals.
Are there other ways that you would like to see Zune’s integration tightened up or improved?