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“The Future of TV”: New Xbox Dashboard drops tomorrow

Monday, 5 December 2011 06:39 GMT By Lee Bradley

Xbox Live is getting a makeover and a swag of new, TV-flavoured tricks. Lee Bradley previews the new face of entertainment.

“The Future of TV” – Details by country

December 6 additions to Xbox Live:
US: Epix, ESPN, Hulu Plus, Netflix
Japan: Hulu
UK: Lovefilm
Italy: Premium Play by Mediaset
Germany: Sky Go
Spain: Telefónica España Movistar Imagenio

Coming soon:
US: Crackle, iHeartRadio, Warner Bros., UFC, Verizon FiOS TV
UK: 4 on Demand, Screenrush, Blinkbox, Crackle, Demand 5,
Australia: ABC iView, Crackle, SBS On Demand,
France: AlloCiné.
Germany: Filmstarts, Mediathek/ZDF
Spain: Sensacine, TVE
Canada: Astral Media’s Disney XD, Crackle, Real Sports, Rogers On Demand Online, Warner Bros., UFC,
Multiple territories: Dailymotion. MSN, MUZU TV, Vevo, Vudu, YouTube

Coming in 2012:
Antena 3 de Televisión, BBC, CinemaNow, DIGI+, GolTV, HBO GO, MLB.TV, Telenovelas/Sports (Televisa), Xfinity on Demand.

“Today we have 57 million consoles worldwide and we have 35 million Xbox Live users. That is unparalleled. Nobody else has that many connected devices in living rooms across the world. Our users spend about 2 hours a day, every day, on the console. And that is amazing engagement.”

Xbox Live has come a long way since it launched nine years ago. The interface we use to interact with it has come even further. From the original Xbox’s primitive UI, to the 360′s Blades and subsequently the ‘New Xbox Experience,’ the dashboard has had to evolve rapidly to keep pace with Live’s ever-expanding library of content and services.

Rohan Oommen should know. Now general manager at Xbox Live EMEA, he was part of the original Xbox Live team established in 2001. A decade on and he’s one of the people behind the next step in XBL’s evolution: hitting consoles worldwide tomorrow, it promises to be the service’s most profound update yet.

Metrospective
“In the US,” says Oommen, “40% of people on Xbox Live spend one hour a day watching movies and TV on their Xbox. On our platform, today’s gamers are clearly consuming non-game content. So for us it’s about improving how much gamers enjoy this experience, that they can use this one box for all their entertainment needs.”

That, in a nutshell, represents Microsoft’s attitude to Xbox Live and their approach to the new update. No longer just a gaming platform, the Xbox 360 is now a multimedia entertainment hub offering music, movies, TV, sports and social networking apps galore. To bring all this content together, they’ve designed a dashboard built to be as intuitive as possible.

“In the US, 40% of people on Xbox Live spend one hour a day watching movies and TV on their Xbox.”

The new operating system employs the tiled ‘Metro’ aesthetic found in the Windows Phone operating system and soon to be adopted by Windows 8 for PC. It’s a bold, clean and unfussy design, with large tiles sitting neatly under a row of about 9 different categories, navigable using a controller, Kinect motion controls, or even voice commands. Kinect quirks aside, each is simple to use.

This is partly to do with the uniformity of design. “Every single application, every single hub that you go through looks and feels exactly the same,” Xbox Live UK Product Manager Pav Bhardwaj tells me later.

“The great thing about this is that not only are all the first-party apps the same, but all the third-party apps too. We’ve done that purposefully so that people get really intuitive with it, understand how to use it and it becomes second nature.

Bing Bong
Speech recognition has been around in various different forms for years, so standard voice command integration into the update doesn’t feel particularly revolutionary. Indeed, when you can zip through menus in a split second by using a traditional controller, why even use voice commands? It’s a question that Bing integration goes some way to answering.

Shout “Bing: Brad Pitt,” and you will be transported to a menu detailing every available film starring the man.

Thanks to extensive Bing indexing throughout XBL’s vast library, you can use Kinect voice commands to hunt down content in a surprisingly flexible manner. Shout “Bing: Brad Pitt,” for example, and you will be transported to a menu detailing every available film across XBL’s suite of apps starring the man himself. You aren’t limited to just barking titles.

It’s a shame that this robustness doesn’t extend to games, however. As it stands you cannot search for games according to developer, studio or publisher. Well, you can – but it will likely only return indexed instances where the individual names have appeared in, say, ‘Inside Xbox.’ It won’t take you to the games themselves. It’s a fixable oversight in what is otherwise a great system.

Well Appy
Perhaps the biggest change arriving tomorrow comes in the form of apps. Available via an integrated Store, these applications will deliver a huge amount of content from the world’s very best providers, including the BBC, Channel 4, Sky and YouTube in the UK. You’ll also be able to download a LOVEFiLM app, with an introductory offer of a month’s free trial.

Beyond video delivery, the new update embraces social networking apps too, with established XBL services like Facebook getting a significant upgrade. Rather than drawing a line through past and future content, Microsoft has made efforts to make the whole Xbox experience seamless. And they haven’t finished yet, either.

“This isn’t a one-off drop, it’s going to be a continuous process of development and improvement.”

“We’ve got 14 new apps launching from the 6th of December all the way through to the end of December,” says Bhardwaj.

Plus there will be new apps launching in 2012 on a regular basis. This isn’t a one-off drop, it’s going to be a continuous process of development and improvement. We’re really excited about what you’re going to see going forward.”

Head in the Clouds
So what about the updates that specifically relate to games? Well, they’re a little thin on the ground. Cloud saving stands out, however. You now access 511MB of free storage in the cloud, meaning that save game and Gamertag information is retrievable anywhere in the world and, at any time, on any Xbox with an internet connection.

It’s a slickly integrated system, presenting itself no differently than if you had popped a USB stick into the slot. All you have to do is click on “Cloud” and away you go. More storage space would be preferable, but as an alternative to Gamertag recovery and lugging around physical storage, we’ll take it every time.

Elsewhere, Beacons are the only other real new feature for gamers. These allow you to tell your friends what game you fancy playing, via Xbox Live and Facebook. The reasoning behind it is that the current system can be annoying. This way, your friends can be in no doubt as to the game you really want to play, without bombarding you with invites. It’s a handy little feature, one that speaks to the importance of social gaming on Microsoft’s service, but it’s hardly revolutionary.

More Memory
Regardless, this is a fantastic update, constituting a brand new operating system and a considerable injection of fresh content, delivered six years into the life-cycle of an ageing console. In that regard it’s unprecedented. Attractive and easy to use, the effect is a complete rejuvenation.

“I think we’ve just touch the top of the tip so far,” says Bhardwarj. “Five years ago, some of the things we’re doing now didn’t even exist.

“We’re going to continue to make our content social, we’re going to continue to listen to the user base, we’re working with different partners to bring some really exciting new experiences to the platform. I think right now, our imaginations are the limit.”

The new Dashboard goes live on Tuesday December 6, and heralds the arrival of 40 new entertainment channels across Xbox Live’s global offering.

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15 Comments

  1. Joe Musashi

    Kinectifying your interface and reproducing content I can already get (cheaper) on my TV from a host of other sources isn’t the future of my TV. Sorry Mr Marketing Man.

    JM

    #1 3 years ago
  2. absolutezero

    Are you ready for a shitload of adverts?

    Tough shit because your getting a shitload of adverts and even more blocks and obstacles to getting to the actual meat of a console.

    Look at it, so much white space (which I assume will be themeable at least but jesus why waste half of the screen), teeny tiny box for the game thats actually in the disc tray right next to a fucking huge ad.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. strikkebil

    im excited.
    even with ads xbox OS still beats the super dull xmb.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. _LarZen_

    Have been using this dash for several weeks now, it better in all ways.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. freedoms_stain

    I hope they don’t think this makes up for their lack of exclusive game content.

    Do they expect people to watch TV while waiting patiently for the next Halo?

    #5 3 years ago
  6. RandomTiger

    No iPlayer?

    #6 3 years ago
  7. ruckus

    “No longer just a gaming platform, the Xbox 360 is now a multimedia entertainment hub”

    1999 called and wants its story back.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. JimFear-666

    i prefer ps3 as my entertainement hub, at least they can read hd blu-ray movies.
    something that cant read bluray movies isnt a complete entertainement hub.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. OrbitMonkey

    It’d be nice if Microsoft would put a internet browser in there. I’m a casual surfer and the psn browser is great for me. It’s the main reason I kept with the PS3 and left my 360.

    Still this upgrade for the 360 is good. Yeah ads will always be a pain and imo if your a gold subscriber, their should be a option to turn them off, but at least Microsoft are continually reinventing their xmb.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Johnny Cullen

    “Bing, Imogen Heap.”

    I’ll be doing this all night tomorrow.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Ireland Michael

    @10 Don’t hold your breath. Ireland isn’t getting Bing Voice Search in this update.

    I’m surprised that we even got the basic Dashboard voice commands, but at at least we got that much. The Irish accent is apparently a huge, almost insurmountable challenge to this kind of hardware.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. OwningXylophone

    @ absolutezero

    I’ll assume that 4OD is the same as the web/PS3 version, which will mean one unskippable ad at the start of your program and that is it, and obviously there are none on iPlayer. So provided your in the UK then no, not really any ads.

    Also, having has this dash for weeks, your old themes still work. This reduces the amount of solid colour on the dash massively, and for me that sea of white is all dark grey, much easier on the eyes.

    @ RandomTiger

    Coming 2012…

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Sardauk

    Still no love for Belgium ??!!

    #13 3 years ago
  14. mark180900

    what time in the uk does it come out

    #14 3 years ago
  15. Ireland Michael

    @14 Somewhere around 6am – 8am, or there abouts.

    #15 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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  • Nintendo apologises for Amiibo shortages, will reissue some out-of-stock figures

    Nintendo released a statement today to apologise for fan’s frustrations in finding some Amiibo figures and promised to handle distribution better going forward. Nintendo has been criticised recently for its lack of communication when it comes to new Amiibo figures. Something which has lead fans to not know if certain figures are limited to some […]

  • Halo: MCC “a black eye for us,” Halo 5 won’t suffer the same fate, says franchise director

    The development of Halo: The Master Chief Collection was of an “outrageous complexity,” which was one of the reasons it suffered a horrible launch. None of that will happen with Halo 5: Guardians, according to Frank O’Connor. Frank O’Connor, Halo franchise development director opened up to Xbox Achievements about the difficult task of developing The […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: weapon Reforging explained

    When House of Wolves drops in a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to change the stats of some in-game weapons. This process is called ‘Reforging’. Alex goes over all the details Bungie revealed about the new Reforging system. This covers the materials you need, the weapons that can be reforged and much more. Make […]

  • GTA 5 PC: control the in-game phone with your iPhone using this mod

    GTA 5′s latest mod lets you control the in-game phone with your real-life iPhone. Reddit user Planetleak wanted to see if he would succeed in getting his iPhone to control the phone in GTA 5. He did it and has a video to prove it. It’s not a mod per-se, but it emulates mouse and […]

  • SoulCalibur dev wants to know fans’ favourite characters for “something huge”

    SoulCalibur developers are probably working on a new game, because they’re asking fans to vote on their favourite characters. Project Soul, the longtime developer of the SoulCalibur series is soliciting feedback on fans’ favourite characters. The developer said as much in a post on its Facebook page. “Calling all SoulCalibur Fans! Project Soul would like […]

  • Jason Voorhees doesn’t look out of place in new Mortal Kombat X trailer

    Jason Voorhees comes to Mortal Kombat X starting tomorrow and it’s time to celebrate his arrival. Jason Voorhees, the first DLC character for Mortal Kombat X has been given the trailer treatment. Jason is part of the game’s Kombat Pack, owners of which can start using him tomorrow, May 5. Being an iconic horror character, […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition – Dragonslayer DLC announced, free to all this week

    Dragon Age: Inquisition is getting a multiplayer expansion this week. BioWare has announced that all owners of Dragon Age: Inquisition will receive a new multiplayer expansion, for free. The expansion is called Dragonslayer and it’s centred around fighting dragons, hence the name. Three new playable characters will join the roster as you explore an all-new […]

  • Sonder is still happening, and this is the best news of the week

    Sonder is a really interesting-looking new indie adventure, which I am quite excited to remember exists. We first heard about Sonder in late 2013, when its debut trailer introduced us to a Kamai Media’s ambitious vision. In the intervening months Kamai has been hard at work on its space station management sim slash non-linear narrative […]

  • Twitter axes playable Internet Archive embeds

    The dream has died: Twitter has disabled Internet Archive game embeds. Remember how for a few days you could tweet a link to an a game on the Internet Archive and it was playable direct from that tweet? Well, Twitter has cancelled that. All those tweets now just show links. GamesIndustry suspects it has something […]

  • Lords of the Fallen, Divinity: Original Sin developers will reveal new games at E3 2015

    Lords of the Fallen developer Deck13 and Divinity: Original Sin developer Larian Studios have new projects in the works which will be revealed at E3 2015. Publisher Focus Home Interactive is behind both new games. In a French press release [PDF] spotted by RPG Codex, Focus said it will show off the two unrevealed titles […]

  • Rare game announce expected at E3 2015

    Rare’s new game will be shown off at E3 2015, apparently. Rare hasn’t announced a reveal, and neither has Microsoft, but it looks like the news has slipped out anyway. IGN cites a tweet from Rare creative director Simon Woodroffe in which he says that a new project from Rare designer Gregg Mayles will be […]

  • Batgirl expansion included in $40 Batman: Arkham Knight season pass

    Here’s what you get in the $40 Batman: Arkham Knight season pass. Batman: Arkham Knight’s season pass was announced last week, but apart from the news that it would cost a whopping $40/£33, we didn’t get many details of what it would include. Thankfully, Warner Bros. has since acknowledged the clamour this caused, as players […]

  • Star Wars Day Xbox sale discounts Force Unleashed, Lego games

    Star Wars Day is upon us, and here’s an Xbox sale to mark it. Microsoft is offering discounts on Xbox 360 games to celebrate May 4. From my desk here in Australia the sale is a bit light on content – two Lego games, plus The Force Unleashed and its DLC packs. Your mileage may […]

  • Here’s hoping this tease means we see Mass Effect at E3 2015

    Mass Effect boss Mike Gamble has shared a teaser image, which we’re more than happy to draw speculative conclusions from. The new Mass Effect game in the works at BioWare Edmonton is a mysterious beast. Judging by how long it’s been in development, it feels like we’re about due for a proper reveal, to clear […]

  • Watch almost a whole hour of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is almost here. Are you ready for old-school shooter action? Wolfenstein: The Old Blood publisher Bethesda livestreamed almost an hour of the Machine Games shooter recently, and has now uploaded the archive to YouTube. Check it out below: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood launches digitally on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on […]

  • Splatoon lacks voice chat to promote a positive online experience

    Nintendo’s multiplayer game Splatoon will not contain a voice chat option in order to “focus on the positive aspects” of online gaming. Speaking in the latest issue of Edge magazine (thanks, GamesRadar), Splatoon co-director Yusuke Amano said personal experience with negativity in online voice chat was one of the main reasons for excluding the feature. […]

  • D4 on PC: differences from Xbox One version, system specs announced

    D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die – Season 1 is coming to PC, and Access Games has provided a list of features different from the Xbox One version. We’ve pulled most of the changes off the game’s website and posted them below, along with the PC specs. D4 on PC Kinect gesture input controls replaced with […]

  • The Megalodon returns to Battlefield 4 with the latest CTE patch

    The Megalodon Easter Egg in Battlefield 4 may have been removed earlier this year from Naval Strike, but it has since resurfaced on the CTE with the latest patch. I’d make a Jaws reference, but it’s been done to death. The shark is shown in the video on the Paracel Storm map which was where […]

  • Survival horror game Kodoku has a new work-in-progress trailer

    Kodoku, the survival horror title from Carnivore Studio, has a new work-in-progress video available, showing you how the game is coming along. Announced for PlayStation 4 and Vita back in 2013, the game is slated for release sometime this year, and tasks the player with avoiding mythical Japanese ghosts using only magic and stealth. Thanks, […]

  • Current HoloLens prototype has noticeably “tighter” FoV compared to January build

    Microsoft’s augmented reality headset HoloLens is still very much in the prototype stage, according to various reports out of the Build Conference. Microsoft hasn’t discussed technical specs with the press yet as nothing is set in stone, but during a hands-on at Build, Ars Technica noticed the prototypes had a “x86 processor, 2GB RAM, 802.11ac […]

  • Silent Hills petition asking Konami to continue development has over 50,000 signatures

    A petition to save the Silent Hills game has been formed by fans in the hopes Konami will change its mind and bring the collaboration with Guillermo del Toro back from the dead. Konami confirmed on Monday the Silent Hill remake from film director Del Toro and Metal Gear’s Hideo Kojima had been cancelled, but […]

  • Attack on Titan has a US release date, title changed in EU over copyright claim

    Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains will be released under a different title in Europe, according to the publisher, and while a release date has been set for North America, the same cannot be said for fans across the pond. According to Atlus, a copyright claim in Europe has forced the company to publish the […]

  • Yooka-Laylee meets final Kickstarter Stretch Goal in less than 24 hours

    The Kickstarter for Playtonic’s Yooka-Laylee sailed beyond its final £1 million ($1.5 million) Stretch Goal overnight, which will allow for a simultaneous release on all announced platforms. Once funded, Yooka-Laylee was slated for release on Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 4, Wii U, and Xbox One; however, a simultaneous release on all platforms wasn’t guaranteed unless […]

  • Not a Hero will miss its May 7 release date, but not by much

    Not a Hero will miss its May 7 release date, according to an announcement from Roll7. Not to worry though, it’s only by a week. According to the developer, the delay is due to “having undergone super-secret upgrades to crank shit up to 60fps.” The extra week will provide the additional time needed for tweaking […]

  • Assassin’s Creed, The Crew, Far Cry 4, other Ubisoft titles on sale through the Humble Store

    Ubisoft has put a number of its games on sale through the Humble Store. Franchises Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry are on discount as are single release titles. The list of games on sale are below. For pricing in your region, head over to the Humble Store. Anno 2070 Complete Edition Assassin’s Creed 3 Assassin’s […]

  • Payday 2: Repeater rifle, Peacemaker pistol introduced with The Butcher’s Western Pack

    Overkill Software released the 21st DLC pack for Payday 2 yesterday, titled The Butcher’s Western Pack. The pack will run you $4.99/€4.99 and other digital distribution channels. “For our 21st DLC we go back in time to visit the Wild West and the arsenal it was known for,” said the developers. “With it we’re introducing […]

  • The Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter just launched and has already met its funding goal

    Playtonic Games launched the Kickstarter campaign for Yooka-Laylee at 5pm UK, and in just over 30 minutes it already hit its $270,000 funding goal. You can watch the funding counter continue to roll over through the link. Yooka-Laylee is a 3D platformer where the characters use special moves such as Yooka’s tongue grapple and Laylee’s […]

  • Batch of hi-res Persona 5 screenshots released by PlayStation Japan

    A set of screenshots have been released for Persona 5, and while you’ve seen these before in magazines and on the official website, these are high-res versions. Some will even look familiar to those who watched the first gameplay trailer back in February. The shots were posted over on the PlayStation Japan Persona 5 game […]

  • Is Alien: Isolation getting HTC Vive support?

    Placeholder images for SteamVR icons have been found and it looks like there may be support for Alien: Isolation, so if you enjoy soiling yourself, get psyched! NeoGAF members found a thread on Reddit, where a little rooting around in a Steam directory unearthed the images. The list includes both games and apps, and as […]

  • Xbox Live multiplayer is free this weekend on Xbox 360

    Xbox 360 players in all Xbox Live regions can play multiplayer online for free this weekend. If you are a Silver member, this means you are Golden from May 1-3 and can play multiple games online with your buddies. All you have to do is log-in to Xbox Live.

  • Assassin’s Creed actor Michael Fassbender confirms film production starts September

    The Assassin’s Creed movie will start production this fall, actor Michael Fassbender (Prometheus, 300, X-Men:First Class) as confirmed. Speaking with ComingSoon.net, Fassbender said filming will start in September, which is inline with Ubisoft’s announcement in February. The actor will star in the film alongside Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard, both reuniting with their MacBeth director Justin […]

  • Eve Online boss states VR won’t be as big as we think next year

    I don’t think I’m the only one who wants VR to hurry up and manifest into a Sword Art Online-esque reality. Unfortunately, the chief executive officer at the studio behind Eve Online doesn’t think that will be happening any time soon. Talking to Venture Beat, Hilmar Veigar Pétursson touched on his excitement at the prospects […]

  • The Last of Us: Left Behind goes standalone in May on PS3, PS4

    Naughty Dog has announced that The Last of US DLC Left Behind will be released as a standalone experience next month. It can be purchased for both PlayStation 3 and PS4 through the PS Store and a two-hour demo of the Factions multiplayer will also be made available. “The Left Behind standalone game will have […]

  • EA’s annual E3 press conference takes place on June 15

    Electronic Arts has announced its annual E3 2015 press conference will take place the day before the show kicks off on June 15. EA, Microsoft, Sony and Ubisoft always hold press events the day before E3 officially starts, so this isn’t any surprise, really. The presser, dubbed “Live to Play”, will last one hour and […]

  • Steam exchange rate mix-up closes down community market

    The Steam community market was buggered up big time today after a mix-up with currency conversion had items selling from practically nothing, to millions of dollars. PC Gamer picked up on the news after a thread on Reddit appeared with screenshots depicting just how silly things were getting over there. The currency exchange rate data […]