Groove (Music) for mobile now locked in with Windows 10 on desktop

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Many of the applications that make up the Windows 10 platform are truly common to both desktop and mobile (and beyond). But Groove hasn't been one of them until now, always with the two form factors showing different versions and subtly different feature sets. As of today's update for Groove on all but production platform variants, the application is now at the same version number and feature set right across the board. Interestingly, the bump up to version 3.6.1886.0 also brings a number of important fixes and enhancements, quoted below.

From the Microsoft announcement:

So what’s in this update? Groove is now truly universal on Windows 10 across mobile and PC. The build you’ve been using on mobile is now the same build you’ll get on PC going forward. For those of you who’ve asked if the PC version of Groove would ever get features like gapless playback, today’s the day! We are very proud of this milestone and look forward to the increased velocity this change will bring as we work down our backlog.

This update represents another first for us – we’re publishing the update for Insiders before sending it to the Store for everyone. We’re flexing the app flighting rings for the first time and plan to push out today’s update as follows:

  • PC: Windows Insiders Fast Ring
  • Mobile: Windows Insider Fast & Slow and Release Preview Rings

Here’s what we’ve added to the universal app since the last update:

  • Improvements to playback including:
    • When unplayable tracks appear in Now Playing, we properly gray them out and jump over them without displaying an error
    • We prevent you from playing unplayable content (for instance, if you are offline and try to play a streaming album we won't try to play it, we'll immediately tell you it can't be played and why)
    • We added extra telemetry to playback errors so that we can continue to improve the app
  • We removed the app’s dependencies on Xbox Live which means you don’t need an Xbox Live account to use Groove (and sign-in is much faster and more reliable)!
  • It’s easier to tell what’s happening when Groove is sync’ing your collection for the first time.
  • You’ll see “Unknown Artists” less often in your collection because the app looks at both song artist and album artist metadata.
  • The process we use to show additional metadata to what’s in your local files is 10x faster and gives better results
  • The app defaults to Explore for search results if you have a Groove Music Pass and you have don’t have a limited data plan.
  • When viewing artists, you can view their work by albums or songs. Try it by selecting “Songs view” when viewing an artist.  
  • Radio stations can be started from albums and songs – the app will start the radio based on the artist.
  • The app now shows your collection size at the top of the collection views.
  • On mobile, background art fills the screen so that it’s seen under the system icons at the top.
  • You can use ‘Refine’ to filter your collection by source (OneDrive, Pass, Purchased, On this device only).
  • If something gets really out of whack in your collection, you can now choose to ‘Reset’ your cloud collection.
  • We added jumplist support for collection views organized by release year.
  • The ‘hotlinks’ in Album reviews and Artist bios now work on mobile.
  • We added a simple lockscreen setting for Continuum. We made lots of styling updates for Continuum too!

If you're on any of the Insider builds (at all) then you should see this update. If you're on a big standard production build then not yet - but then you probably wouldn't be reading AAWP in the first place, so....

There's lots above that's worth playing with and enjoying. I'll come back to the Continuum aspects in a future feature, but good to know that Groove Music is all set for this too.

If I had one wish it's that Groove would go online and retrieve album artwork for tracks which currently show with empty artwork right across my collection. I realise that it's down to my own sourcing of music (mainly old CDs and ripped many years ago), but this is 2016 and it's surely only the work of an hour's programming to search for an album title on the likes of Microsoft's own Groove Music Pass or (shock, horror) Amazon and have a best guess at grabbing a suitable JPG? To see half my music collection with boring grey 'empty' boxes is somewhat depressing. Come on Microsoft, this one is easy to fix.

Screenshot, some grey artwork

Source / Credit: Microsoft