Microsoft has begun rolling out its latest Xbox One update promising a hefty number of new features and enhancements.
The update is making its way to Xbox Live consoles now. However, it's targeted only to people who are part of the Xbox Live preview program, which lets you test out the latest updates ahead of the general Xbox One population. Announced in February, the preview program is available to select Xbox Live subscribers through invitation.
The Xbox One has consistently underperformed Sony's PlayStation 4 in terms of sales, so Microsoft needs to make sure it keeps its console relevant and appealing. Sony on Tuesday said its PlayStation 4 has sold more than 10 million units worldwide since its November 2013 launch. In April, Microsoft announced it had shipped 5 million Xbox One units to retailers but has remained silent on sales figures.
The company has been on a tear to update the Xbox One on a regular basis to make current users happy and potentially draw in additional buyers with the promise of exciting new features.
What can preview members expect in the new update? Microsoft's Xbox Live Chief Larry Hyrb, aka Major Nelson, outlined the following features in his latest blog posted on Friday:
- Parties - The Party App has been re-organized, so you can now see what activities everyone in your party is doing and tell more clearly who is playing in the same game with you. You can also more quickly perform common actions like muting, joining, or sending game invites. Also, Parties now have a Party Leader. This person can change whether the party requires invitations, and she/he can remove others from the party.
- New Friends Section - The new Friends section has been available for a few early access preview members and we're expanding it to additional participants enrolled in the preview program. The new Friends section enables you to see at a glance what's going on with your friends. You can stay up-to-date with your current activities, the most popular games your friends are playing, and a Gamerscore leaderboard to see who has improved their Gamerscore the most over the last 30 days.We'll continue to roll this feature out to all participants in the coming updates.
- Media Player - A new app will be available soon that enables you to play media files from either an attached USB device or from a network connected home media server that supports DLNA protocols. The preview version of the Media Player app will initially only support USB devices, with DLNA support coming soon. Xbox One will support more formats than Xbox 360, including support for dozens of new file formats like mpeg 2 TS, animated gifs, and mkv which will be added by the end of the year. See below for additional file formats.
- Xbox One Digital TV Tuner - Announced last week, this new hardware accessory will enter a limited preview program in Europe (UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain), in advance of its retail launch beginning in October.
- Stream TV to SmartGlass - Launching first in markets receiving the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner, you will be able to stream your TV across your home network to your smartphones and tablets using the Xbox SmartGlass app. You can also pause, play and rewind as well as change channels, without interrupting gameplay on Xbox One.
- Boot to TV - Now you will be able to set your console to boot directly to television when coming out of connected standby.
- Live TV Miniguide - For markets where OneGuide is available, a new mini guide on the bottom of the screen will display details about the TV content that is currently playing. You can quickly change channels and see what's on other channels, while still watching TV.
- SmartGlass Updates - You can now post status messages from the Activity Feed as well as add comments and share items from both your Activity Feed and from Game Clips. Along with the new comment and share features, a personalized Activity Feed has been added to your profile. Messages have been updated to a new layout supporting a full conversation view. Additionally, we are adding the ability to record game clips directly from the Now Playing bar. Finally, if you upgrade the app directly we have introduced a What's New page highlighting the features of each release.
- "Xbox On" in New Markets - Adding support for additional markets to use the "Xbox On" Kinect voice command to power on consoles: Australia, Canada (French), Italy, Spain, Mexico, and Brazil -- a top used feature.
- Country Expansion - We're doing a lot of work on the back end to prepare for Xbox One to launch in 29 new markets in the coming weeks.
- Multiple GameDVR Deletes - You will be able to choose multiple GameDVR clips to delete at once in the Upload app.
- Save your Avatar Gamerpic - A new option is now available to save Avatar GamerPics to your OneDrive.
- Settings Updates - New options help you manage your controllers and accessories. Also, Instant Sign-In is being moved to Settings, to the Sign-in, security & Passkey area.
- Bandwidth Usage Display - Located in Network Settings under the Troubleshooting column, Bandwidth Usage will show you how much bandwidth your Xbox One is consuming over a period of time. This is useful if you want to track against bandwidth caps set by ISPs in certain markets.
Hyrb called those just "some" of the new features rolling out, so there may be more in store. Okay, so when will all Xbox One users receive this update? After checking out the update, the folks at WP Central identified it as the September Update Preview, which means that all Xbox One gamers should see it pop up on their consoles sometime next month.