Although Microsoft have been drip feeding news about the Xbox One’s capabilities for months, they’ve have now given fans (and haters) the most comprehensive look at the console’s dashboard to date.
The new release makes it clear that Microsoft’s ambitions are way beyond gaming – they want to take over your entire TV. Xbox’s chief marketing and strategy officer Yusuf Mehdi makes this clear by addressing a question commonly asked by consumers: “What’s the value of having entertainment and gaming brought together, why is that better if really what I like to do most is gaming?”
Mehdi gives the example of notifications, showing how running live TV through the console will mean that invitations (to play games or enter a Skype call for example) will never be missed, with messages popping up on screen.
Combine this with the integrated Internet Explorer browser, the range of supported on-demand services (including 4oD, Lovefilm, Netflix, and Sky’s Now TV), and a powerful voice command system (goodbye to multiple controllers!) and it seems that Microsoft’s claim to be the ‘one’ input you need is pretty credible.
A run-down of the dashboard’s other main features:
- Live TV: a HDMI port on the Xbox One will support “any HDMI device” (including, it’s rumoured, the PS4) so TV can be passed through the device. A powerful feature, especially when combined with the Snap function (see below).
- App partnerships: 4oD, Lovefilm, Netflix, Eurosport and Sky’s NOW TV service will all run directly from the Xbox dashboard. A full list of region specific partners can be seen here.
- Voice commands: The chance to order about your console like an overworked servant. ‘Xbox go to TV’, ‘Xbox record that’, ‘Xbox, when’s my dinner ready?’. If it works as smoothly as it does in demos it could revolutionize the living room.
- Snap multitasking: Can be activated by voice commands and allows you to split your screen (with adjustable ratios) between TV, music, games, Skype or internet browsing.
- Instant switching: All of this multimedia integration will only frustrate users if it’s slow or unresponsive but Microsoft are promising that instant will mean instant. The video demonstration shows about a half second delay – which is likely as near to instant as you could want.
What we think
PS3 is still Tec Team’s next gen console choice purchase, however we do see clearly Microsoft’s overall plan for a user interface recognisable across its range of products (Surface, PC Windows 8, Windows phone & xbox one). The question is, is the design intuitive, logical and beautiful, Tec Team in Plymouth are not convinced.