The first major Xbox One update for 2017 began rolling out Wednesday. Microsoft’s latest software upgrade to its console brings a new look to the user interface, Beam streaming, and the ability for parents to limit how much time their children spend playing games.
The most noticeable change with this Xbox One update is, of course, the changes to the user interface (UI). The Home screen has been given a makeover to prioritize speed and performance. The title you’ve most recently played is prominently displayed at the top still, but it is joined by smaller icons for the Game Hub, Clubs and Looking for Group, plus sharing options.
Other recently played titles are listed below the main game shown and will display the same group of icons when hovered. The pins are still at the bottom of the screen and can be accessed quickly by pressing the right trigger on the Xbox One controller. However, the “My games & apps” icon has been moved to the top right of the Home screen with the tile just beneath it used to show updates like game download status.
The Guide also got a major refresh. It can be accessed by single-tapping the Xbox button on the controller or clicking over to the left when on the Home screen. Microsoft has put more immediate information on the start screen of the Guide, including the ability to control the volume of background music. The usual information for friends, parties, achievements, messages, and notifications can be found on other tabs of the guide.
“Through the Insider program, we’ve received feedback from Xbox One gamers that the UI can be complex and for certain tasks, can require too many button presses. Our goal is to simplify the UI and increase overall system performance, and that starts with updating Home based on what you care most about for the games you play,” Xbox Partner Program Manager Scott Henson explained.
Microsoft purchased Beam to integrate its own streaming service into the Xbox One and Windows 10, and it is now ready for everyone. The service has some unique features over competitors like Twitch because it is ultra low-latency and allows viewers to interact via chat overlays.
You can find the dedicated Beam app in the Xbox One Guide. It’s the icon between Notifications and Settings at the bottom.
This Xbox One update enables a copilot feature that allows two controllers to control the same character or action on screen. There are multiple examples of uses for this for both children and those with disabilities. A parent might use copilot to help a child through a tough part of a platformer. An individual with a disability that prevents them from holding a controller comfortably might use two controllers simultaneously, so they have easy access to all the buttons and triggers.
Copilot can be turned by opening the Guide, going to Settings, and then Ease of Access.
Parents will love this new feature while their children may start cursing Microsoft’s name. The Xbox One now supports placing limits on how much time children spend playing on the Xbox One.
This is an account based system that can be enabled by logging into a parent account at Microsoft.com/family. This will list all child accounts for the parent. Simply select “Screen Time” from the available options for a child account, and you’ll be able to enable the feature, set daily time allowances, plus set the earliest and latest time of day they can play.
Additional new features include support for Dolby Atmos and Blu-ray player bitstream passthrough for improved sound. Players will also be able to multi-task by placing an achievement tracker or Cortana up on the screen while playing. This is to replace the snapped app feature, which has been removed.
What do you think of this update for the Xbox One? Sound off in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Xbox]