There was an event ahead of The Killers show at the ACC in Toronto last night held by Nokia, announcing the arrival of their new streaming music service to Canada.
Nokia Music is a free (and ad-free) streaming music service featuring a library of 18 million (and growing songs) available through their Windows Phone handsets. I've had a chance to play with a Lumia 920 and I gotta say that I like it.
First, don't pooh-pooh the Windows mobile OS. It's actually quite good and very intuitive. The home screen is easy to customize and it's cool watching all the tiles update themselves in real time. When I went back to my iPhone 5, I was stunned to see how old and tired iOS seemed in comparison.
Going one level deeper into the menu is the Nokia Store, which is where you go for your music, apps and games. You can also easily pin the Store to your home screen for faster access. (Here's a look at the desktop version.)
Accessing music is free and simple with no sign-up or subscription fees required. And there are no ads, either. All access is included for anyone who has a Lumia phone. Pretty sweet, really.
Once inside, you can assemble your own playlists or access human-curated streams called Mix Radio There's also a way to have Nokia Music analyze the music in your library so it returns a custom music discovery-type stream. So if, for example, it determines that your library is 77% rock, 13% hip hop and 10% country, those same percentages will be reflected in the music it chooses for you. Interesting.
Songs from your streams are resident on your device (good for those long plane rides) but you can also purchase songs for permanent access. Prices are right in line with what we've come to expect from iTunes.
Where it gets more interesting is in the ancillary services. There's a gig finder function that lets you know where and when artists on your playlists are performing nearby (complete with a map app, too.) There's a lyric function that displays the words of a song as its playing. Basic access to these services is free, but you can always upgrade for $3.99 a month for the full monty.
It's all rather interesting. There's a bit of learning curve with the OS, but that's normal. It's certainly worth a look if you need a new phone and you want a different way to access music.
Have a look at Nokia Music through the Windows Phone store.