Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Putting Music on your ZTE Open Phone (Hardware Review)

I like to listen to music on my phone and the ZTE Open is no exception. But just dropping files onto the folder created when you connect your phone to a computer doesn't always keep the music information, especially not the cover art.

So I poked around, tried some tag editors, and gave up. But I found a solution that works for me and may work for you if you have the following functionality:

  1. Windows - preferably Windows 7, not 8, not XP, but just plain Windows 7.
  2. MP3 files (I tried some OGG files and I couldn't get tag editor to work)
  3. Windows Media Player (it comes with Windows)
As you may guess, Windows Media Player 12 doesn't support OGG files. You can get a plugin to play OGG files, but it doesn't do the tagging and you can't sync it with your phone. But since most of my files are MP3, I'm good to go. If someone has a non-WMP player for Windows that works with ZTE Open, please let me know. Solutions on Mac and Linux are cool too, and I'll post them or you can add them as a comment.

So here's the steps.

First hook up your ZTE Open phone to a PC with a standard USB cable (little plug in the phone, big plug in a PC USB port). If this works, you'll see the ZTE OPEN as a drive in File Manager. The ZTE Open may ask you if you want to connect for remote debugging.

Get your MP3 files together. Make sure you have cover art. If you don't have it or don't want it, Firefox OS will make different colored abstract shapes which are cool too.

Load them into Windows Media Player and import an album. You want to do this from the Library pane of the Player. You get to the library by clicking on the boxes at the top right of the main player pane. Here's an album I imported from a video game soundtrack called Legend of Dungeon. Notice that it has the cover art, names of the album, artist, and a track list.

Note that the ZTEOPEN is on the left as a place where Windows Media Player (WMP) can find files.

Next, drag your album over to the right where the Sync tab is open. It should say ZTEOPEN Linux and show a bar indicating how full the ZTEOPEN is at the moment. After you drag it over to the right, you should see something like this:

Next you want to click on the "Start Sync" button at the upper right. It will chug along and you should see something like this:

The right side shows the status of the synchronization. I took this screen shot at 24% completed.

After the sync, your player should look like this:

It should say "Sync Completed". If you want to check, you can actually click on the ZTEOPEN menu at the left and open it to see the Music on the phone. At the top it says "ZTEOPEN > Music > All music" and I scrolled up so you can see that Legend of Dungeon is now on the phone and has the proper cover art, track list, etc.  (By the way, I made an error and didn't rename the tracks. They say "1. Zombie" for the track name and I should have erased all the numbering on the track names because WMP keeps track of the track number (you can see it under #). Oh, well.)

Now, unplug the phone and open the music player on it. You should see something like this (if you have the same music -- unlikely!):

The Firefox OS player has four views which are on the menu at the bottom (from left to right):
  1. Tiled view of all the music by album cover
  2. Playlist view where you can select types of album (most played, recent, etc.).
  3. Artist view - alphabetical with album covers
  4. Album view - alphabetical with album covers (pictured above)
Once in a while I had a problem with the Windows Media Player recognizing the ZTE Open. Rebooting the player makes that work.

I'll look around to see if I can find another player that works with OGG. Or other formats. According to Mozilla, Firefox OS supports these file formats:

  • .mp3
  • .mp4, m4a (encoded with H.264 or AAC)
  • .wav
  • .ogg (encoded with Vorbis or Opus)
  • .webm (endoded with Vorbis)
  • .3gp
Every operating system and browser has a different list of files it supports, but almost everyone supports .mp3 and almost no one (except Windows) supports .wma. I'm not sure who supports FLAC. I've also heard that Firefox has problems with .wav files.

Stay tunes and let me know if you can get other music synchronizing to work with other players and operating systems. Keeping Firefox OS happy with cool music is certainly my goal!

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