Microsoft has steadily improved its once-lackluster Groove apps across multiple platforms this year. And now it’s done so on Xbox One, too, bringing a new user experience and background audio playback to its flagship console.
I’ve been waiting for this update, which was previously only available to consoles enrolled in the Xbox Preview Program. (My new Xbox One S has yet to be updated.) If you’re familiar with the Groove app on Windows 10, well, you already understand how it works: The version on Xbox One now looks and works almost exactly the same: And that’s great, as it’s an attractive and very usable app.
Of course, this is an Xbox, and most users will be using a controller to select and activate on-screen UIs. So you’ll see an obvious selection rectangle around the currently-selected item, and you can use the sticks or d-pad to move the selection around. Move all the way to the left, and the menu appears, for example.
All the expected views—Albums, Artists, Songs, Playlists and Radio—are available, as are new features like Your Groove and Explore, the latter of which requires a Groove Music Pass.
There’s also a very nice Now Playing experience. (And yes, the controls disappear after you stop pressing controller or remote buttons.)
As big, the new version of Groove for Xbox One now supports background music playback. I can’t really show this in screenshots, of course, but you can start music playing and then launch some other experience—a game, of course, but also Microsoft Edge, or whatever—and the music will keep playing. To stop it, or control playback, you bring up the Xbox Guide (by pressing the Xbox button on the controller twice). Playback controls appear at the top. (I previously wrote about this in Xbox One S Tip: Enjoy Background Music.)
So this is a big deal all around for Groove fans. Now your living room experience can be first rate too, assuming you have an Xbox One.