Hey Cortana, play some metal!

My new favourite app.

Previously, my media center revolved around using Music on Console on my Raspberry Pi. The music files were stored on a networked drive and the output of the Pi fed into my stereo amplifier which freed the monitor for use with either my BBC microcomputer or my Windows 10 computer.

I really like this set-up as I could control the music player by pressing keys on the keyboard without having to switch the monitor to the Raspberry Pi channel. For example 'pause' is the spacebar, and 'next tune' is the 'N' key.

More recently my Raspberry Pi stopped working properly (I'm not sure what the problem is, suffice to say that the OS no longer responds to mouse clicks correctly). I needed some time to rebuild the Raspberry Pi, so I switched to another media center app.

Microsoft Groove, playing some metal on a Lumia 950

Microsoft Groove for Windows 10 seemed like the logical choice as it could see the same files on the network as the Raspberry Pi (a collection of several hundred GB of files painstakingly ripped from CDs since the early 1990's). I had used Groove several times for playing music before, however the Pi was my previous main system.

My first impressions were of a really well-designed user interface that was simple to use and beautiful. The app had already found the music files from the network and had even loaded my playlists created on the Raspberry Pi and so I was up and running in a matter of seconds.

Things got better when I got my free trial of the Groove Music Pass which unlocks literally millions of tunes ad-free. I have been having tremendous fun building new play lists from forgotten classics as well as new music. Groove has a radio feature that lets you discover new music based on any artist that you may care to mention, and, of course, download or curate new music into whatever playlist you like.

The service runs on my Windows Phone as well as my Android devices, which is another boon as I can have access to my playlists at work and on the go, but also, rather crucially for me, it frees the monitor so I don't miss any of the retro-computer action on my BBC micro! There is also a web-player so I can access the service on my Chromebook or, if I really have to (and I mean if there is literally no other device available with a power supply) I can get it on my iPad (shudder). But this is a rare thing as I usually use this device to chop onions.

A really nice feature is that I can control the player on my phone with my Microsoft Band 2, which I still love even though Microsoft seem to have forgotten all about it. Cortana on desktop also responds to voice commands ("Hey Cortana, play some metal!") and I understand that more voice commands for Groove a due in the next large update for Windows 10 next April.

Microsoft is keen for you to sync your music with your OneDrive account, and a purchase of the Groove Music pass comes with a very generous 100GB of OneDrive storage.

Well, that's it for today. I'm off to listen to some new music and chop onions on my iPad.