Xbox Music and Xbox Video for Windows Phone 8

Microsoft appears to be taking a page from Google's approach to core software updates: It just launched standalone Xbox Music and Xbox Video apps for Windows Phone 8 users. The music app (currently deemed a preview) is largely what we've seen in Microsoft's integrated software, but it also lets you edit playlists and sync radio stations. A completed version is due in 2014, the company says. The video client, meanwhile, resurrects functionality that hasn't been a part of the OS since Windows Phone 7; you can now download or stream Xbox Video content directly from your handset, with playback syncing between phones, PCs and game consoles. There's no certainty that Xbox Music and Xbox Video represent the first steps toward OS-independent media apps in the rumored Windows Phone 8.1 upgrade, but you can at least try them today.

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