Microsoft is expanding its Xbox Music service to new platforms with the release of apps for iOS and Android, plus a web player for streaming music.
The news tonight comes less than a year after Microsoft launched the rebranded music service on Windows 8, Xbox Live and Windows Phone. The mobile and console apps require an Xbox Music Pass subscription, which goes for $9.99/month or $99.99/year.
The new web player, available here, will offer free streaming with ads, or an ad-free experience for paid subscribers. Streaming on Windows 8 remains free.
It’s part of an ongoing effort by Microsoft to broaden Xbox into a larger consumer brand, going beyond its roots in video games. These days it’s not unusual for Microsoft to release apps for platforms that compete with devices running its own operating systems. An updated version of the service will also be available on the Xbox One, the upcoming version of the Microsoft console.
“Now we have a very broad platform of availability across any device that people would likely be listening to music on,” said Scott Porter, a Microsoft principal program manager, previewing the new web service and mobile apps during a briefing last week.
Porter said the company sees the Xbox Music service as “connective tissue” among Microsoft products and also among the wide variety of smartphones and other devices that people are using.
At the same time, the company is pushing out many features first to Windows and Windows Phone, aiming to make the experience on its own platforms best and first. For example, a new feature in Windows 8.1 automatically creates Xbox Music playlists by scanning websites for songs, using the sharing feature inside the Microsoft operating system.
Note: Price of annual subscription corrected since original post. (Thanks to Keith in the comments below.)