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Xbox One UI: Snap Center and media streaming could smooth off some rough edges

Monday, 18th August 2014 13:27 GMT By Patrick Garratt

Microsoft’s listening. All that 360 guide functionality you loved? You’ll have it back before Christmas.

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“A lot of people who came from 360 have said, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of stuff that the 360 guide provided that I have to take multiple steps to get to on Xbox One.’ So, we’re creating this Snap Center.”

Xbox One’s UI has been constantly updated since the console released last year, but the imminent releases Microsoft outlined at gamescom last week show significant steps in adding all of the functionality people enjoyed on Xbox 360.

While much of the headlines surrounding the updates centred on the ability to play video formats popular with downloaders, the inclusion of the Snap Center has been overlooked as an addition that is likely to greatly streamline the overall Xbox One experience.

“We’re completely revamping how Snap works,” said Microsoft’s Albert Penello, speaking in a behind-closed-doors demo.

“A lot of people who came from 360 have said, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of stuff that the 360 guide provided that I have to take multiple steps to get to on Xbox One.’ So, we’re creating this Snap Center.”

They call the Snap Center interface “the compass,” an overlay you launch by double-tapping the controller’s Xbox button. The compass has four options, as you’d imagine, and means you’re going to be able to access messages, friends, parties and achievements without leaving your game.

“I can view my friends – this is where the new achievement snap comes in – and I can start or join a party,” we were told.

“We’re also redoing how messages work. Today, the notification comes up, I accept the message and it takes me out of the game.

“I get that long, horizontal view of messages. We’re moving to a threaded messages view. I can see conversation history, I can reply and my friends can send me game clips. I can do all of that now without leaving the game.”

Microsoft is convinced the Snap Center addition will bring Xbox One into line with old-gen services.

“We think that’ll bring back some of the things people have wanted from the 360 guide. It won’t take you out of the game and you’ll get faster access, particularly to some of the party and chat stuff people want.”

Another incoming feature likely to greatly please Xbox One owners is the ability to stream media from PCs via DLNA.

Being able to wirelessly play music and video on your console from your PC’s hard drive via your home network was (is) possible on Xbox 360 through the use of Windows Media Center. You can only do it on Xbox One at the moment.

“If you set your sharing on PC for videos the console will pick that up as well,” Penello said. “You will be able to do that. When the media player update comes out it’ll be included. That’ll absolutely be part of the media player release.”

Snap Center and the ability to wirelessly stream media from home servers is coming to Xbox One “over the next two months,” according to Penello. “Everything will be out before Holiday.”

The August Xbox One update is now live, and includes 3D Blu-ray support, mobile purchases, a revamped friend feed and more.

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