Microsoft has always made quite a song and dance around the Xbox One's non-gaming entertainment capabilities -- specifically its TV functionality.
Using the HDMI pass-through port, Xbox users in the US have been able to run their cable TV through the console, taking advantage of a detailed electronic program guide called OneGuide, as well as being able to use the Kinect for voice controlled navigation when watching TV, along with some other nifty features. There's always just been one problem for Australian users: it wasn't available locally.
Well it's a mere 14 months after launch and Xbox has declared that OneGuide is coming to Australian Xbox One users as public preview from today -- making it available to people who've been invited to participate in the Xbox One Preview program.
OneGuide will provide an interface that collects both Freeview listings and entertainment apps, such as catch-up TV and video-on-demand services. The feature set includes the ability to build a custom "favourites" section, as well as Kinect voice control for both changing channels and navigating the guide. For example, saying "Xbox show guide, what's on Channel 9" would bring up TV listing for Channel 9.
More interestingly, OneGuide will integrate the on-demand information into the TV listing, showing you which shows are available from catch-up apps.
You'll also be able to use the Snap feature to watch TV with other apps, such as Skype or Bing, open to the side of the screen.
Xbox will be launching the Digital TV Tuner in March, following on from its launch. While in the US many users have a cable box that connects to the Xbox, Aussies are more likely to be getting TV via a free-to-air signal. The Tuner connects via USB and allows you to get a digital TV signal directly into your Xbox, rather than having a separate tuner connected via HDMI.
The Tuner will cost AU$39.95 and is available for pre-order now. As an additional feature, the Tuner will allow users to stream TV from the Xbox One to a mobile device using the SmartGlass companion app.
At the moment Xbox has no firm timing on when OneGuide will move out of a public preview, but a spokesperson said that it was anticipated to be in a similar timeframe to the release of the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner.