Recently, there have been people — myself included — who noticed that Apple had used Zune’s “Your entertainment, everywhere” tag for their iTunes product. Of course, the concept of those three words is that no matter where you are, the media that you want to watch or listen to is right there ready for the plucking. When you do a closer inspection, the true conclusion is that Apple is right in using the tagline and, for Zune, that tagline still seems like a promise waiting to be fulfilled.
To understand this, just look at a few issues I continue to have when using the complete Zune ecosystem. By complete, I mean that I have a Zune Pass account, a Windows Phone, a Zune HD, a Windows 7 PC, a Windows 8 CP Notebook PC, and an Xbox 360. Of course, let’s be totally fair and remove the Notebook PC off the table since the Windows 8 CP is only including ‘app preview’ versions of their music and video apps.
That, now, leaves all of these other devices which are supposed to give me my entertainment, everywhere. But let’s be real, it doesn’t. It makes great strides in keeping me connected, but you put it up against iCloud and there really isn’t much by way of Apples to Apples comparison.
Ok, let me demonstrate a bit of what I’m talking about. Take these observations.
Note: After I wrote this article, it seems that it reads more like gripes than justifications of why iTunes should feel free to use Zune’s tagline. Long story short, I still I think iTunes is closer to that realization than Zune is.
Also, Apple isn’t necessarily doing all of these things listed, but Zune has used that entertainment, everywhere tagline long before Apple did and yet there are things Zune still needs to do to not only catch up to Apple but to catch up to this tagline.
1. When you give a song a heart-rating on the Xbox 360, where does that rating go? My PC software doesn’t pick up on that. My Windows Phone doesn’t pick up on that. It just seems to go into this limbo. It might be determining better Smart DJ playlists for the Xbox 360, but can’t my PC software take that into account when I want to start a Smart DJ playlist there?
2. When you download an album on Windows Phone and then sync it to your PC, the sync group isn’t the album. It seems that every individual song is a sync group. That’s cluttered. If I specifically tell my Windows Phone to download an album then, when I sync to my PC, I want to see a tidy sync group list of albums — unless I told my phone to download an individual song or picked all of the songs off an album, one-by-one.
3. My Xbox 360, still can’t see my local collection. Games like SSX are including the ability to take your local music and use it directly in the game, which is great, but that should be a more intuitive system. Whoever is working with the connectivity between Zune and the Xbox 360 should help these companies better tap into the music that I have stored on my PC. I like that I can use some of my personal music to really make the game my own, but it needs to see all of the music that is my own.
4. Windows Phone still can’t access the video marketplace, nor can it allow me to stream music that I already own. A Windows Phone already has paltry storage and now I’m supposed to sync to it music that I *might* want to listen to later. iTunes Match is already doing a great thing by syncing what you own to what’s available in the iTunes store. It may not get everything but that’s already a fantastic start. I’ve started an Indiana Bones project to just stream music on my Windows Phone and see how much real entertainment I can get from that — We’ll see how that goes.
And as far as videos go, come on Zune. Take Netflix. Take VEVO. Make it into a full-featured Marketplace that we all can enjoy.
5. With Windows Phone being able to manage podcasts, directly from the device, can we reach a point where Windows Phone doesn’t need a PC, at all? By this I mean, if it were able to see my local collection on my PC (via Wifi network) and tap into my video collection, I wouldn’t need a PC at all. I could do everything via WiFi sync if I really want to place physical content on the phone or stream it all, especially if I’m in a WiFi hotspot — like my house.
You know what would be an interesting option: Doing for Zune Pass music downloaded to a Windows Phone, the same that can be done for pictures; deleting them from the device once they’re sync’d to the PC. Once I’ve been out and about in the world, finding great music and putting it on my phone, if I choose to (and I’d actually choose to), I would like to dump that stuff onto my PC and then remove it from my phone. Sounds crazy, but again Windows Phones aren’t necessarily packing 64GB of storage here.
6. What the fk is up with Zune Social? Are they really counting songs that I play using my Windows Phone? I’ll continue to scream from the raftors that Zune Social can bypass Ping in a nanosecond, if only it would become part of the Windows Phone OS. Another pivot in the people hub, that’s all it needs. It’s already there on Xbox 360. I don’t see Social, of any kind, on the Windows 8 CP but I wouldn’t think it’d be too far off to have it as part of the music app or integrated into the People hub like it could be on Windows Phone.
People still feel the Social can succeed if it made things easier to share. Great 3rd party apps are available for Windows Phone. Even, Mehdoh includes a ‘now playing’ feature that tweets what you’re listening to with a picture of the album cover (which I love). However, this type of stuff shouldn’t be needed. Windows Phone is already baked into Facebook and Twitter, so sharing what I’m listening to with my friends should be simpler. Music is a social medium and that should be embraced in every possible way.
7. I’m still not feeling the heart/broken-heart system of rating. Basically that’s saying I either like a song or I don’t. I still feel there should be a middle ground (half-heart) for songs that I want to give a second spin to, but need to filter out from the noise of everything else in my collection. An autoplaylist of songs I’m half-committed to would be nice.
While we’re at it, an autoplaylist of just Zune Pass content would be nice, too.
So these are just a few of the things that occurred to me as I continue to use Zune across all of these platforms. Zune is no Slacker Radio or Spotify, as those services try to embed themselves into as many different OSes and platforms as possible. Zune stayed close to home and placed itself on the Xbox 360, PC and Windows Phone. However, those three devices are still a few tweaks away from fully talking to each other in a manner that truly deserves the tagline: “your entertainment, everywhere.”
I hope that with Windows 8 (and the integration of Skydrive — which seems to be the key here) we see much more tighter integration of Zune’s services (even if those services are no longer called Zune).
- I truly want to pick up my Windows Phone when I’m out at a mall and listen to a song that’s sitting on my hard drive at home.
- I want to be able to stream to a Windows Phone a TV show that I missed last night.
- I want my Xbox 360 to talk with my local collection so I can play what I own
- Hell, I want my Windows Phone to be able to do the same thing
Simply put, I want my entertainment, everywhere.