Marginally easier to navigate, which is a plus
Throughout all of 2014, the Xbox One received monthly updates to gradually repair the bungled state the console originally shipped in. Slowly but surely, it got there. The system-level navigation woes eventually subsided. It’s a much more usable machine today.
Nowadays, Xbox isn’t as frequent with the updates. Instead, they’re reserved for more meaningful implementations rather than just small fixes. One of these released today, and it puts an emphasis on often-used features and interactive streaming.
The home screen is where the majority of users will notice the most changes. The title that’s currently being played as a significantly smaller icon, and this frees up more room for game hubs, clubs and groups, and social sharing.
However, it’s off to the side where the biggest alterations are. Xbox has done away with the notion of double tapping the home button (an action with far from a 100 percent success rate). Now, a single press of home brings up the guide which defaults to showing recently played games and apps. From there, the mainstays — friends, achievements, parties, settings, etc. — are all found by navigating up and down the side bar.
Xbox says that one of the focuses of this update was to optimize for speed (which was the excuse given for doing away with the Snap feature). It’s completely anecdotal but in my five minutes spend with the new dashboard, it seems like Xbox accomplished that. Everything’s responsive so far, and anyone who has spent a good amount of time on an Xbox One knows that isn’t always the case. Also, the guide is inching ever-closer to making the home screen a moot point; you can get almost anywhere from the side menu.
The thing that’s probably of most interest to Xbox isn’t a nominal improvement to the dashboard. It’s the implementation of Beam, a streaming platform that’s owned by Microsoft. Beam allows an audience to participate in streams by joining games that streamers are playing. It’s said to have around a 200 millisecond latency, meaning that the interactions are in near-real time. Beam was just added to Xbox One today in preparation for the April 11 Creators Update on Windows 10.
There are a few more minor additions like co-pilot mode across two controllers (I think this is legitimately neat), screen time limits, and bitstream passthrough for the Blu-ray player. Those, along with everything else, are described in detail over on Xbox Wire. Or, just watch the video that’s embedded above to get a better sense of all the new stuff your Xbox will be able to do starting today.
Beam Streaming, Intuitive Guide and More Come to Xbox One Starting Today [Xbox Wire]