No offline sync? No thanks, Xbox Music

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: September 9, 2013

If you listen to a lot of music, there are a lot of different options out there for you to get your hands on. Whether you prefer something like Rdio or Spotify, or want to go with apps like Pandora, there are always options. Something out there will suit your needs, even if they change -- or when they change. I've "tested" so many of them over the years. I've had my loyalties here and there, and I'll probably switch again and again.

Last year, I wrote a piece on why I think Microsoft should have brought their music streaming service, Zune Pass, over to other platforms. The service was so good that I honestly thought that those other platforms, and the people who were using those other devices, were missing out. While options exist, I was convinced that Zune Pass was one of the best out there, and others should be able to get their hands on it.

And then Xbox Music happened. Microsoft didn't worry about bringing Zune Pass over to other platforms because they were working on killing it, and focusing on the future. Technically, they kept the same idea with Zune Pass and just evolved it into something else, called Xbox Music. It's a service that works on all of their new devices and platforms, from Xbox to Windows 8 even to Windows RT. It's all about the devices, and Microsoft admitted that they'd be bringing their new music service to other platforms -- specifically, iOs and Android.

So, finally, right? Well, maybe.

There's no doubt that bringing Xbox Music over to other platforms is a good idea. The more people that are able to get their hands on it, the more people that will (probably) be paying a monthly subscription fee to use it to the full advantage.

And the time has finally come. Late last night, the first word of Xbox Music launching on Android and iOS started to swirl around, and sure enough, now you can download the app and use it to your heart's content. However, it's not really the complete app.

Unsurprisingly, even after a year or more of building the thing, the app isn't in its complete form. There are some features missing, and in my case, one of those features is one that I can't pass up. No matter how badly I've wanted to go back to Xbox Music, and use it on something other than a Windows Phone 8-based device, it doesn't look like I can do that quite yet.

That one feature? Offline sync. Yes, you can sync your tracks from one device to another, which is great if you're someone who switches  between Android, iOS and even Windows Phone often enough to make something like that worthwhile. But, not being able to download the tracks to my device so I can listen to them without a constant (or decent) Internet connection is a deal breaker.

Don't get me wrong, I know a lot of people try to save space on their phone by just streaming music, but I can't do that -- not where I travel to quite a bit. Since my data connection can sometimes drop down to EDGE, I need to be able to have my music available to me whenever I want. Plus, I hate dealing with paused music as it tries to load, or skipping tracks for the same reason.

Microsoft has said that updates for the Android and iOS versions of Xbox Music are coming "in the coming months," so it looks like if you're waiting for offline sync, it could be a little while. But as it stands right now, it doesn't matter how badly I've wanted to get back with Xbox Music, I just can't do it yet. Part of the reason I'm okay with paying that monthly subscription is for that offline sync. Without that, it's just not viable for me.

How do you feel about Xbox Music? Have you already downloaded it? Are you planning on using it on your Android or iOS device? Or are you staying with something like Spotify, Pandora or even iTunes Music? Let me know!