Microsoft has updated the Groove app for the shipping version of Windows 10, bringing it up to date with the version Windows Insiders have been using. And that means they get the new Your Groove and Explore features that elevate this service to a new level.
Both features are aimed at music discovery, which I’ve long pointed out as Groove’s biggest issue.
We first learned that a feature called Your Groove was coming to Groove for Windows 10 about a month ago. This feature recommends music based on your own collection and listening habits, and it works for both Groove Music Pass subscribers and non-subscribers, though Microsoft recommends that users have at least 500 music tracks in their collection as a starting point.
“Your Groove is the place for music that is centered around you,” Microsoft’s Ellen Kilbourne explained at the time. “This is where you can not only quickly get back to things you’ve played recently, but also find recommendations for what to play next.”
I’ve been experimenting with Your Groove since its debut on Windows Insider versions of Windows 10 1607 (aka the Anniversary update), and it’s pretty good. But it doesn’t quite close the gap with the superior music discovery features in leading services such as Spotify and Apple Music. Fortunately, there’s more going on, with the new Explore feature in Groove.
Previously a very weak front-end to the music store part of Windows Store, and a vestigial reminder of Groove’s past, when the store interface was built right into the app, Explore has actually been around for a while. But with this update, it now offers hand-crafted mood, activity, and genre playlists for Music Pass subscribers. It is, in other words, aimed at the curated playlists provided by other services. (And yes, it requires a Music Pass subscription, obviously.)
“Here at Groove, we’ve listened to your feedback telling us you want more discovery features in the app and we’ve tried to make it a lot easier to find music you love by bringing you access to hundreds of curated playlists, hand-picked by our team of experts,” Microsoft’s Ellen Kilbournewrote of the new Explore UI. “You can browse them by activity, mood, or genre, and can play or save them offline for later when you don’t have a connection available.”
Put simply, Your Groove will work for anyone, and uses your own collection—whether it’s in OneDrive or via Groove Music Pass—to recommend new or infequently-heard music. And the new Explore is literally about exploring new music suggested by Microsoft’s music experts, using curated playlists.
Looks like I need to update the book again.
I believe Your Groove will be broadly available. (Tell me if that’s not the case.) But Explore is rolling out first to the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and France, Kilbourne says, with more locales coming on board “later this year.”
Now if they’d just update the terrible Groove apps for iPhone and Android, I could go back to recommending this service. (And of course the Groove apps for web and Xbox One need to be updated as well.)
Tagged with Windows 10 Mobile