One of my core uses of the BlackBerry Z10 (and any smartphone, for that matter) is for music. I'm openly boggled when I see people carrying around a full-fledged smartphone and a dedicated music player. There are many third-party apps for BlackBerry 10 that can help you stream tunes, but for the most part, I stick to locally-stored music to save battery. The native music player in BlackBerry 10 provides all of the core functions you need in order to keep the tunes rolling - playlists, shuffle mode, album art... the whole shebang.
First things first - you’ve got to get your music onto your BlackBerry. By plugging into your computer over USB, you can simply drag and drop music to either your SD memory card or the local storage built into the BlackBerry Z10. Just open up your computer’s file explorer, navigate to either BlackBerry drive, and drop files into the music directory. Make sure every artist and album has their own subdirectory, or album art associations can get a little screwy.
It sure would be nice if there was a tool built into the media player to make sure all of the music metadata was in line...
The more elegant way to go about loading music onto your BlackBerry Z10 is to use the desktop software, Link. Wireless sync is supported, so your tunes can match up with what’s on your PC, so long as your BlackBerry is plugged into a power source. When you’re first setting up Link, you can point it to a pre-existing iTunes or Windows Media Player library to populate your Z10. You can find out more about backing up and restoring data through BlackBerry Link here.
Of course, BlackBerry World is now home to an extensive music store so you can buy tracks and albums directly from your device. Downloads are fast, the selection is good, and since they’re DRM free, you can move the music to other sources without any hassle.
Most headphones with an in-line microphone also have a mute/pause/play button which should work perfectly well with the native BlackBerry music player and any fully-optimized third-party apps. This works for stereo Bluetooth headphones as well, including my trusty Plantronics Backbeat Go headphones used in the video above.
Read here for more details on how to pair a Bluetooth headset to your Z10.
One little bug I’ve noticed when working with Bluetooth - make sure your volume is bumped all the way up on the device before you pair; for some reason, volume controls get locked down after connecting to a Bluetooth device. If you’re using headphones without in-line controls, you can use the Z10’s hardware keys to adjust volume and pause music.
If you duck into the system settings, you can also enable a shortcut that lets you skip tracks by holding down the volume keys.
Navigating the Music app in BlackBerry 10 is pretty self-explanatory. The first tab you open on shows which albums have been recently added to your collection, and which you’ve listened to recently. The Library tab shows your entire collection, organized by either artist, album, or genre.
Universal search from the home screen works great to find specific tracks, though I’m a little disappointed that in the transition to BlackBerry 10, they still didn’t manage to fold in artist or album search into the same field. At least searches initiated from the music app’s overflow menu breaks up results across track, artist, and album.
The final tab shows your playlists, which can be created right from the device - just check what’s Now Playing from the overflow menu in the bottom-right, and hit that button again to Add to Playlist. The playlists tab also shows a few automatically generated collections at the bottom for all songs, recently added, and playlists by year.
The overflow menu lets you quickly launch into shuffle and play all from the collection or album views. There’s an option there to select multiple items, but it can only be used to batch delete, not play select albums or tracks. From the Now Playing screen, you’re able to add the track to a new or existing playlist, as well as shunt music out to DLNA devices on your local Wi-Fi network (such as a connected speaker system or TV). You just have to make sure that both machines have permissions to see one another.
The Now Playing screen also has shortcuts near the top to enable shuffle and loop modes for the album. Tap the loop button a second time to keep the same song playing - perfect for those days where you're feeling particularly obsessive.
And that’s Music for BlackBerry 10. It provides all the important stuff you need to have something to listen to, but if you find the experience lacking, there’s a wide selection of third party music apps available on BlackBerry 10 - be sure to check them out.