Sometimes a little bit goes a long way!
On Friday, Microsoft rolled out its latest set of fine tuning and improvements for its next-generation Xbox One console. While some of these new features seem minor and will only be noticed by some of the more tech-savy users (like being able to track bandwidth to avoid interruptions from your ISP), others bring several welcomed additions. The staff of the Xbox Wire recently posted a complete list of everything found in the latest update, which includes:
- New Media Player App
- Improved Party App
- New features for SmartGlass
- “Xbox On” capabilities in New Regions
- OneGuide comes to Brazil, Mexico, Austria, and Ireland
- Boot to TV
- Bandwidth Usage Display
- Save your Avatar to OneDrive
- Multitiple GameDVR Deletes
I’ve spent a bit of time over the weekend perusing what I consider the stand-out tweaks, and bring to you the best of the best regarding what’s new about your Xbox console. Read on my gaming brethren!
SmartGlass Was A Pretty Smart Move.
You’ve gotta’ hand it to Microsoft in this regard--SmartGlass functionality integrated into the Xbox One was an ingenious call. While bundling the Kinect with their console and forcing the idea of motion sensing controls down people’s throat at launch was fairly stupid (something they’ve only recently corrected), turning your mobile device into a secondary screen touches on the seamlessness that current mobile nuts simply can’t get enough of. Anything tethered to a smartphone or tablet these days immediately passes GO and collects $200 (or so it seems anyway). For me, being able to record clips directly from the Now Play bar makes capturing those unbelievable virtual moments (only I will ever watch) that much easier.
The Media Player Now Does Julienne Fries.
OK, maybe we won’t go so far as to suggest your console can suddenly make delicious treats...but how freakin’ awesome would that be?! However, the latest format acquisitions of the media player are certainly a step in the right direction. Many people use their system not just for gaming, but as a media hub as well. Being unable to play certain forms of video content via USB (due to unsupported codecs) induces frustration boarding on “HULK SMASH PUNY XBOX” levels. It’s nice to see them continuing to expand the base (with things like animated gifs and Mpeg 2 TS).
Yes, I do like to party all the time thank you very much!
The party access of any Xbox (whether you’re a 360 hold-out or an early adopter of the next-gen) has always been a great way of managing your late night frag fests. If you’re like me, the evening typically shakes out this way: you start the night with a packed room of friends or family looking to tear up the battlefield. However, as the night drags on, players start dropping off for one reason or another. Allowing party leaders to make the groups joinable (IE: without a friends list invite) is a godsend when needing to replenish your ranks with remote partners in a hurry.
Pinching pennies (or in this case megabytes) really sucks!
<rant> As I mentioned earlier, the update with allow the more frugal minded players to track the bandwidth usage their consoles are sucking up via an onscreen display. While the new feature seems pretty straight forward, this strikes me as an opportunity to get something off my chest. You ISPs out there whom think it’s OK to cap our access to the precious commodity that is internet and data usage can suck it! Stop nickel and diming us to death you greedy bastards. This is not prohibition of the 1920s or even the dark ages. Get with the times and stop holding our services hostage. Walking on egg shells in regards to our online usage is a bullshit practice in 2014. </end rant>
Hopefully, Microsoft continues to do its diligence and churn out even more updates in the very near future (as good things can always be made better). Much of what is listed above was previewed at this year’s Gamescom out of Germany. Microsoft hoped to get some preemptive feedback from the user base before officially making these changes live (obviously in an attempt to double and triple check the reception).
Odds are we won’t see many more sweeping expansions before the new year, as Microsoft likely has all its resources focused on the upcoming (and might I add tumultuous) holiday season that 2014 is likely to become.