Dissecting Windows 10 Mobile: Re-discovering music discovery (video)

One very useful function found within Cortana in Windows Phone 8.1 was the music discovery feature, which used the phone’s microphone to listen to any song that can be heard playing nearby, and tells you what song it is. While this feature is very common among all smartphones, one particular nicety in the Windows Phone 8.1 rendition was just how easily accessible it was. Hit the Search button and there it was in the top right corner.

On Windows Phone 8.1: simple, convenient, unintrusive

On Windows Phone 8.1: simple, convenient, unintrusive

In Windows 10 Mobile, as of build 10.0.10586.29, this convenient feature initially appears to have vanished, but in fact it’s simply been relocated. To invoke it in Windows 10 Mobile, begin by opening Cortana by tapping the Search button on your phone, then:

Tap on the microphone button to activate voice command

Tap on the microphone button to activate voice command

After a second, the music discovery button will appear on the top right.

After a brief delay, the music discovery button will appear on the top right…

Which finally invokes the music discovery function.

…Which finally invokes the music discovery function.

 

Why Microsoft chose to do it this way is beyond me. At first I thought the music discovery button would only pop up if there were a working internet connection, but after shutting everything off, it still pops up anyway. It’s quite annoying because it’s one extra step to achieve something that was previously very intuitive.

Even more puzzling is how Windows 10 Mobile apparently handles your music search history. Previously, in Windows Phone 8.1:

It was found by tapping the hamburger menu

It was found by tapping the hamburger menu…

Dissecting Windows 10 Mobile music discovery 08

…And then on the straightforward music searches option

In Windows 10 Mobile, your music search history is no longer found in Cortana’s Notebook, as far as I can tell. Instead, it’s baked into the music discovery listening function, so you have to have your phone listen for music, in order to search your music discovery history, you have to activate the discovery function

Found within the activated listening function

Found within the activated listening function

This immediately created problems for me, as I would have music playing in the background while deciding to look up a song search I made when I was out shopping. Because the listening function has to be invoked in order to see the search history, it would keep forcing me into “I found the song” because it was “successfully” identifying the music playing in my background.

I expect Microsoft will make changes in the near future that will make the music search history more accessible, or the music discovery function more easily actuated, but until then, we have a very clunky experience that seems like a regression from the previously logical behavior.

At least the function’s still there. Knock on wood.

This is the first in a series of posts exploring Windows 10 Mobile and its various features. If there are any particular areas you’d like for us to cover, let us know in the comments below. Enjoy!

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How are your experiences using music discovery on Windows 10 Mobile?