Introducing the Xbox One’s Windows 8 UI and Other New Features
Microsoft has confirmed via a new screenshot that the Xbox One’s user interface will indeed spot the Windows 8 tiled look. In all honesty it’s just a darker version of the current Xbox 360 Metro UI. Based on the screenshot it looks like a few more little green boxes will be invading the Xbox One’s dashboard, but outside of that the look and feel should be familiar to current 360 gamers.
The Xbox One’s user interface will offer much more functionality than the 360’s. One of the biggest changes is the integration of Live TV. This function will allow gamers to remain on the same TV input for all of their entertainment needs. You can watch TV and swap to a game, as well as Skype chat at the same time. This way you will always know what your buddies are up to even if you don’t feel like gaming.
From the official Xbox One fact sheet: Live TV – Navigate and watch live TV through Xbox One. All your entertainment is now available in one place and is easily accessible on one system. Always know when your friends are online and ready to play your favorite game, even when you’re watching TV. Gone are the days of switching inputs.
The new Skype function allows for 1080p video chats that can host multiple people at once, which is a first for the MS owned soft phone on a TV platform. You can also keep Skype windows open while you game, so now you can perform teabags on your friends in real life as well as in the game world!
From the official Xbox One fact sheet: Skype – Display full HD, 1080p Skype video calls specially designed for Xbox One and, for the first time ever, have group Skype calls on your TV.2 Split the TV screen to join a multiplayer battle while hosting a Skype video chat with friends and family.
Switching between all of these open apps will be handled by the Xbox One’s Snap function, which allows for multiple apps to run at once to prevent any downtime while changing between them. You can be gaming and quickly change to the music app, or as mentioned above you can be Skyping while also gaming at the same time. Snap should be a great feature for gamers on tight time lines who hate to wait for even the shortest amount of load times.
From the official Xbox One fact sheet: Snap – Use Snap to do two things at once. Talk to friends on Skype, and watch the big game together. Follow what people are saying about your favorite show by surfing the Web. Listen to the music of your choice while playing the latest blockbuster game. Jump back and forth instantly between experiences without a loss in performance.
The Xbox One will also feature a Home setting, which will allow you to personalize the welcome screen to your needs. Home can be accessed by simply saying “Xbox, On”, which will fire up the console and take you to your personal hub. This command can also be used to pick up where you left off in the last game, movie, or app you were entertaining yourself with.
From the official Xbox One fact sheet: Home – Wake up your Xbox instantly with the words “Xbox, on,” and you’re welcomed to a personalized Home screen with your favorite games, apps and content. Pin movies, music and more for instant access to the things you love the most, right where you want them.
Polygon shed some more light on the dynamic save system in an interview with Ben Kilgore, who is the corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business. Kilgore explained that the Xbox One will save game progress similar to mobile devices while switching between apps, or putting the One to bed for the day:
“It’s more like a phone a little bit. So you are not going to lose your save game stuff as you are switching between tasks.”
The article went on to mention that gamers will be able to use the “Xbox, On” command and it will take them right back to the section of the game they were last playing. Games and apps can also be paused and left in the state while switching to other apps, or turning the console off.
Personally, I love this idea, and it’s good to see that MS is providing this function after Sony revealed that the PS4 would have the same feature back in February. There’s nothing worse than wanting to get back to a stellar gameplay experience and having to wait for the console and game to boot up. Hopefully this feature will speed this process up immensely to allow gamers instant access to their last played games and other multimedia items.
These are just a slice of the Xbox One’s new features. Other innovations include the Game DVR, which will allow you to save gameplay clips for sharing. The Living Games feature allows you to see shadows of your friends progress in the same game you’re playing. This feature will also allow games to be updated dynamically to reflect the current pop culture items and other real world events. Finally, there’s the Expanded Achievements model, which takes the art of achievement hunting to new levels via gameplay captures, and the ability for developers to add new cheves to games on the fly.
From the official Xbox One fact sheet:
Game DVR – Captures and saves in-game highlights and epic moments to the cloud. Use editing and sharing tools to post game footage to your Xbox Live profile and social networks.
Living Games – Leverages the power of the cloud so games can evolve and learn from actual players, letting you play against your friends’ shadow. Dynamic, living worlds evolve and improve the more you play, and games stay in sync with what’s happening today — real-world events can be instantly added to games, and the latest stats can be automatically added to sports titles.
Expanded achievements – Allows for new achievements powered by the cloud and offers more ways to earn, more frequent updates and the ability to share wins with friends. An expanded achievements system captures videos of gameplay and continues to grow achievements over time, and Gamerscores carry over from Xbox 360.
Hopefully we will get to see all of these new features in action at E3, but until then we can only speculate on how they’ll actually work. I just hope MS doesn’t make all of the gameplay sharing proprietary, and allows the files to be downloaded for editing in traditional tools such as iMovie and Final Cut Pro.
Stay tuned for more details as they’re released.
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