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Microsoft Demonstrates The Value Of Kinect And Entertainment Apps

In the early days of the marketing for Xbox One, many gamers were turned off by the publisher’s insistence on showing off UI and entertainment features more than actual games. Months passed and Microsoft tuned down the multimedia hype, focusing instead on satisfying gamers after a disastrous E3. With many of these restrictive features (online check-ins, no used games, etc) now a thing of the past, it’s a good time to revisit the unique UI of the upcoming console. I had a chance to see it in action at a recent Microsoft event, and now have a better understanding of why the publisher was pushing these features so hard early on.

At first glance, the Xbox One dashboard isn’t strikingly different than the 360’s. It’s presented with the same Windows 8-style colored boxes as the previous console, and many features make their return. The main screen allows players to jump into their game and access several recently-viewed apps. Moving one screen to the left accesses your favorites via the pins menu. To the right of the main screen is the store section, which features tabs for games, movies, television, and music. Overall, the core sections of the new dashboard seem more streamlined and simple than those on the 360.

Microsoft’s initial plan to require Kinect makes more sense now that I’ve seen just how integrated it is in the UI. Logging in no longer requires going through menus and selecting user profiles with the controller. Kinect can now recognize up to six individuals in a room, and will automatically log in each user. Facial recognition was supposed to be a function of the original Kinect, but it rarely worked. Microsoft claims that the new tech in Xbox One’s Kinect will be much more reliable in this regard.

If multiple people (up to six) are in the same room, Kinect will recognize them and automatically sign them in without the use of controllers or menus. Let’s say Person A is the primary user, and the menus are populated with their pins and theme selections. All Person B (or C,D, etc.) has to do is say “Xbox, show my stuff.” The theme and pins change accordingly, as do any favorite cable channels in the TV section.

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