Xbox One Summer Update Rolling Out, Brings Background Music, Cortana, And More

The big summer update for the Xbox One is now rolling out worldwide ahead of the launch of the Xbox One S. Microsoft has added a large number of features with this release to tie in with the Windows 10 Anniversary update such as Cortana, background music, a store update, and support for Play Anywhere.

The first thing users will notice about the new update is how it changes the Xbox One Home screen. The “My games & apps” tile has moved from the bottom of the screen, where you had to scroll to see it, to the top right. It is joined by a context button just beneath which will display any download and installs you may have in progress.

The “My games & apps” page has received a significant refresh as well. You can now scroll their game collection vertically, sort using different methods, and change the size of the game tiles. A “Ready to install” tab was also added on the left pane to view any downloadable games or apps that can be installed. It is joined by an “Updates” tab so you can view recent updates to the games you own.

Background music has been a much-requested feature for the Xbox One since it first launched. The Xbox 360 had the ability to play music in the background, so its absence was noticeable on the new console. The ability to play music in the background can only be done by supported apps, though. Pandora will be the first to support it with other apps like Groove Music, iHeartRadio, and others adding support later. Depending on the app, users will be able to play music from a USB storage device, stream over the internet, a stream from a networked PC with DLNA software such as Plex, assuming it adds support.

Cortana is the other big headliner. The digital assistant from the Halo universe is now ready for your voice commands on the Xbox One in the United States and the United Kingdom. Additional regions will be added later.

Those who want to use Cortana can give the “Hey, Cortana…” command through their Kinect or through a pair of headphones. Users can look for friends or games, start parties with friends, or even look up news via the Xbox One using the voice commands.

Those that prefer the old “Xbox” voice command can go into their system settings to turn Cortana off and use it instead. However, this will disable the use of voice commands through a headset microphone.

There is also greater convergence between the Xbox Store and Windows Store. Microsoft has begun to blend the two together in anticipation of the release of the first Play Anywhere games. The new initiative allows those that purchase a game on the Xbox One to also own a Windows 10 copy and vice versa.

ReCore will be the first Play Anywhere title and is set to release on September 13. It will be followed by Forza Horizon 3 on September 27 and Gears of War 4. These games can be played on either platform with the game saves transferring from one to another. Some will also support cross-platform play.

Finally, Language Region Independence is now a thing on the Xbox One. This allows users to choose their preferred language for the console despite their location. You could use French while living in the United States, for example.

The Windows 10 Xbox app has also received a number of updates. This includes the ability to find Xbox LIVE friends through Facebook, improved sharing of screenshots, GameDVR clips, and achievements, the ability to record clips at 60 fps, and showing the top Windows 10 PC games through Xbox LIVE on the PC and console.

Xbox One Background Music - PandoraXbox One Background Music - Pandora Playing background music with Pandora. [Image via Xbox]Those that want to try and force the update on the Xbox One should follow these steps:

  1. Open the left guide from the Home screen.
  2. Select “Settings.”
  3. Select “All Settings.”
  4. Under “System,” select “Console info & updates.”
  5. The button will read “Update Available” if you have not downloaded the update. Otherwise, it will read “No update available.”

What do you think of the latest Xbox One update? Sound off in the comments below.

[Image via Microsoft]