Nokia Music Comes to Windows 8

For those who have a Windows Phone handset produced by Nokia, you likely are aware there is a Nokia suite of apps that the device maker has created specifically for its customers. The suite includes Music, Maps, Drive and Transit. Now the Finnish company is starting to make some of its apps available for Windows 8.

Previously, Nokia had supported Windows for backing up your phone via copying your contacts, calendar and photos from existing Nokia phones to the Microsoft SkyDrive service.

Recently Nokia Music rolled into the Windows Store with a brand new Metro, or Modern UI, style app that installs right to the new Windows 8 Start screen. The new app also will work on the Windows RT platform, which is the ARM-based version of the new operating system that powers such devices as the Surface tablet.

All I Want

…Is Pandora for Windows 8, but we don’t have that yet. For now, we have Nokia Music, which is not shy in its self-description in the Windows Store — “Love music? Nokia Music for Windows 8 is a complete playback and discovery experience for your computer”.

The app promises the world, with features like the ability to play and queue your music collection, music discovery and artist information. Plus, if you have a Nokia Windows Phone then you will be able to use your Nokia Music+ subscription, if you have one, to access all of the features from your phone directly on your computer. The Nokia Music app for Windows 8 and Windows RT is a free download. And if you are not a Nokia Music+ customer then you can get a free trial from within the app.

Open

Like all of the Metro apps, Nokia Music runs full-screen only, as would be expected. It also aims to be your one-stop music spot. Microsoft’s criteria is designed to make every app an immersive experience.

Once in Nokia Music the first thing you will likely want to do is add your own music. To do this scroll all the way to the right and locate the pink box that says “See All”. The first time you click on it, it will begin combing your PC to locate music files stored there. Depending on the amount of music you have, this could take a while.

Unfortunately you can not direct the app to a music location, which is a drawback because you may music stored on a different computer on your home network.

Play for Today

Mixes is the way that Nokia refers to Playlists — think of the playlists you have probably been creating in apps like Windows Media Player for years.

Nokia Music allows you to create Mixes by simply clicking on the “Crate a Mix” option. From here you can scan through your music to add tracks to the Mix or you can do so by doing a search by artist.

Once you have located the mix then you can double-click to begin it playing. Control can be found beneath the cover art with options for Play and Pause as well skipping both forward and backward. Playing a Mix by artist is very similar to what Pandora does, choosing related music.

The Play screen appears to the left of the main screen. While music is playing you can scroll to the right to begin looking at other options.

If you use one of the Nokia Lumia Windows Phone devices then this app will really shine because you can create mixes and then use the Windows 8 app to send them to your device. You can also swipe a mix down to the bottom of the screen to move it offline so that you will be able to listen to it wherever you go with your computer.

The most prominent part of the Nokia Music app, the one that jumps out at you when you launch it, is simply titled “Mixes”. Click on one of the featured mixes from the home screen or click “See All” to begin browsing the countless pre-made playlists that the phone maker has made available for you.

From here you browse by category, and there are many — Top Mixes, Alternative, Blues, Christian, Classical, Country, Hip-hop, Holidays, International, Jazz, Kids, Latino, Metal, Pop, Rock, Themes and more. Click any one of these to begin drilling down into the playlists, sorry “mixes” that are contained within it.

From within the category you can click any of the choices to automatically begin to play it. Like the previously mentioned mixes, this also requires you to activate your 30-day free trial of Nokia Music+.

Just Like Heaven

Let us start with the positives.  First is the interface which is completely gorgeous. The app is dead simple to understand for any user and there is no setup involved since it searches your computer for music all by itself. Nokia Music also packs in plenty of pre-made Mixes to save the user from spending time creating their own.

Catch

There is always a catch isn’t there? Nokia Music seems to me as if it wants to be Pandora and it is not there, nor is it even close really.

As for adding your own music, that too I found to be a problem. There are no settings and no way to point the app to a particular directory. It seems to look solely at the My Music folder that is auto-created during Windows setup. There is no way to point to another directory such as one installed on another computer on the network or even an external drive.

The app will require you sign up for a 30-day trial of a Nokia Music+ account in order to listen to any of the Mixes, otherwise you hear only 30-second clips of each track. When the trial expires then you will need to drop it or begin paying.