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Some Pretty Good Zune Updates...

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September 17, 2008 – Comments (1)

One of the things you have to respect most about MSFT's Zune effort is the way they've included the early adopters in all the major tech upgrades to the platform. I have the brown T |_| R D and today it updated itself with the latest PC software and device firmware.

There's been a degree of press about the "mixview" feature. It is pretty cool, and a lot more interesting than Apple's name-so-smarmy-you-want-to-smack-Jobs-in-the-throat "Genius" feature. Mixview creates, via the Zune companion site and album info, a network of social connections and musical influences. It's in picture form, so you can just click from one card to the next, and surf through bands and songs that are related by genre, history, or through the tastes of Zune users.

More interesting to me are the welcome upgrades to the Wifi feature. We finally have access to the Zune store right from the device, which is an amazing upgrade for those of us on the monthly subscription plan. New music is just a few clicks away when in Wifi Zones.

Another nifty feature incorporates the radio and the digital information that a growing number of stations are transmitting. You can basically just click the center of the squircle and choose to throw the current song into your shopping cart. Again, for those of us on the subscription plan, this is a great way to add stuff to the library while you're thinking of it. You can download immediately if you're in a wifi zone, or take care of it next time you link to your PC.

The latter feature isn't foolproof, for a couple of reasons. First, you can't find every song out there on the Zune site. More daunting is the lack of any standardization in the digital information transmitted by the FM stations. Many of them junk up the name of the song by packing in web address promos or catch phrases, and these, of course, gum up the database query that the software runs on the text string (title alone would be nice) against the Zune marketplace's song database.

For instance, when a station runs the song with the string: "Pink, I'm not all that cute but I sing good" finding the song is a snap. On the other hand, when the local oldies station does this: "Jefferson Airplane White Rabbit number one oldies at work or in your car visit geezer.com" the results get a lot spottier. In this area, the number of stations broadcasting clear, concise track information is fewer than those spamming a load of junk.

Some smarter query technology would improve this feature greatly, but it would likely take a bit of brute force, spamming the name server with chopped up text strings from the whole original string and hoping for matches that way.

All in all, this is some very good stuff, and especially nice given that this device is two years old.

PS: EF our profanity filter, which is so oversensitive it wouln't let me use the word "T |_| R D"

1 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On September 18, 2008 at 10:39 AM, TMFBent (99.83) wrote:

I amend my earlier remarks above. After playing with the "mixview" feature more last night, and discovering a ton of new music as well as reintroducing myself to old stuff that I liked (but had forgotten I liked, until mixview reminded me), I think this is a killer app. With a larger user base (maybe Bill Gates will get a pony for his birthday, too...) this would be absolutely amazing. It's pretty good as is, however, especially when coupled with the monthly subscription plan.

Also, I forgot to mention the new "channels" feature, which is like a playlist, created by Zune music editors, which is dynamic and constantly changing. This is another great way to get introduced to new music you might never otherwise find. And if you like what you hear, you can easily (2 clicks) pop the song into your permanent collection (so it won't be shed next time the channel is updated...)

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