The Xbox One is getting a major update later this year that will bring an all new user interface to the console. Microsoft gave a brief preview of the new interface as part of its big crop of E3 announcements, and it’s already looking pretty slick.
Describing the new UI, Richard Irving from Xbox’s engineering team said the initial focus was to make it fast: seeing updates from friends, sharing content, discovering what’s new, and jumping into games should all be quickly accessible. A new panel that’s always accessible by double-tapping the Xbox Home gives instant access to notifications, messages, friends, your party, and a handful of quick settings. This panel is not only accessible in the dashboard, it is also available in games and appears without affecting the game’s performance.
The main dashboard largely removes the tiles from the current interface. The listings for recently used games and apps show you who’s playing and give you quick access to things like patch information. Only if you scroll to the end of the list will you find something more tile-like for your pinned items.
Again emphasizing the desire to make the interface “fast”, the new “Community” tab is designed to provide faster access to all the things your friends are doing. It’s a place to make status updates, watch Game DVR videos from your friends, and see what topics are trending.
Microsoft has spoken a lot about its plans for regular Windows 10 updates and the greater integration of features like Cortana. Xbox One is no exception; it will be updated to use a Windows 10 variant, and it will also offer Cortana capabilities. Xbox One already supports voice input, of course, but with Cortana, the capabilities should become more accurate and capable.
This was demonstrated with a short sequence showing Cortana being talked to during a game. You can ask her if certain friends are online, invite friends to parties, and even use Cortana to dictate messages for you while you play.
The interface should be launched around the holiday season and we’ll get hands-on experience with it later this week.