Zune 3.0

zune3

Between my wife and I, we own something like four iPods and two iPhones (including a first generation iPod which, amazingly, looks like an antique now) and so I have a long-term relationship with iTunes. I don’t dislike iTunes but it’s old. In fact, it hasn’t changed much since I plugged my antique 1G iPod into it 7 years ago. There’s a lot of value, I guess, in iteration but I was hoping that iTunes 8 was going to be release that got me hooked again. So far, I’m still kind of luke warm.

Enter Zune 3.0. Wow!. Can you call software sublime or is that weird? Either way, I’ve got one doozy of a software crush on this music player. Unfortunately for Microsoft, I haven’t broken out my Zune device for at least a year but I’m spending 10 hours a day in the software.

From the polish and attention to detail, it’s clear that this release went out with a some extra love. Some favorite moments for me:

  • The sound visualization has been integrated right into the background of the app (check it out above…that pink glow at the bottom moves in real time to the music…it looks cool!).
  • It ships with multiple “themes” (which are really just backgrounds) but the default (and my favorite) is one called zero which is literally just a white background. Nice. Way to be bold by being subtle.
  • If you leave the app alone it goes into one of two modes: one visualizes all of your album art in a giant grid. It looks cool. The other gives you band photos which it pulls from somewhere online and then overlays lyrics and song titles on top of it (that’s what’s going on in the image above). This, by the way, is a great example of some blend mode awesomeness.
  • The navigation is amazing intuitive in spite of being relatively complex and not feeling overly structured.
  • MixView is the new music discovery service (also in the picture above). As an example of paying attention to detail, the entrance animation for MixView eases in and then just slows but never stops. That’s a bold thing to do, but it feels great.
  • It doesn’t feel like an app, it feels like an “experience””—more like something a marketing team would create than app team.

So, well done Zune! Now if only my Zune could make calls…


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