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Mobile Apps

Xbox Music for iOS and Android no longer require Xbox Music Pass

The apps also now let you stream music from your OneDrive storage space as Microsoft continues its focus on non-Windows mobile operating systems.

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XBox Music for iOS and Android can now play songs directly from OneDrive. screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

If you're an iOS or Android user of Microsoft's Xbox Music app, you no longer need to fork over $10 a month to access most of the software's key features.

Released Thursday, the latest versions of Xbox Music for iOS and Android offer several enhancements to appeal to existing users and entice new users to give the program a spin.

Xbox Music has faced a huge challenge from rival music streaming services and apps, such as Spotify, Pandora, Rdio and the new Apple Music. Turned on in 2012, Xbox Music was Microsoft's attempt to replace its unsuccessful Zune service with a new one that would offer music streaming, storage and purchasing. Though Xbox Music has been available through PCs and mobile apps, it has so far been limited to Windows 8 and 8.1 on the PC side, which together own only around 16 percent of the desktop OS market.

Xbox Music will appear in Windows 10 with a new name -- Groove -- where it may get more exposure, though it will still need to compete with other streaming services that have a wider audience. Windows 10 launches to the public on July 29.

Microsoft has also been making more of an effort to focus on apps and services for other operating systems, such as iOS and Android. Instead of limiting such products as mobile Office and Xbox Music to just Windows and Windows Phone users, Microsoft realizes it has to expand its offerings to the larger mobile world to gain greater exposure.

To spruce up the iOS and Android versions of Xbox Music, Microsoft now offers certain key features without the need to purchase an Xbox Music pass. You can access your albums, playlists and music. You can play songs. But you can't access the Xbox Music Radio station, which creates custom stations based on your favorite artists.

You can now play any music stored on your Microsoft OneDrive online music folder, just as you can on your Xbox console. The music from OneDrive simply appears as part of your song collection, so you can easily access it.

Offline playback is another new feature. You can download playlists, songs and albums for offline use on many devices. You can also filter your music to view which tunes are available offline.

(Via The Verge)