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Big Xbox One Update With Cortana, Twitter Clip Sharing, More Out In Preview Today

by Mike Futter on Jun 06, 2016 at 03:00 AM

Say goodbye to “Xbox, On” and hello to “Hey, Cortana.” Xbox One preview members will start seeing a new dashboard rolling out today that overhauls speech commands. Even if you don’t have a Kinect, read on.

Cortana will be available first in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. When your system is updated, it will replace the current “global speech” mechanism for detecting and executing voice commands. 

You’ll start every command with “Hey, Cortana” instead of “Xbox,” which should minimize accidental listening activation. You’ll also no longer be bound to rigid structures. So, instead of having to precisely say “Xbox, go to Halo 5: Guardians,” you can say “Hey, Cortana. Let’s play Halo 5.”

You also no longer need Kinect to take advantage of voice commands. You can now use any headset. An icon at the top right will tell you how Cortana is listening for your command.

Also rolling out today in preview is a new game library. Instead of being buried at the bottom of your feed, My Games and Apps will now be at the top right of the home menu. Once there, you’ll get a condensed view of your games and apps that scrolls vertically instead of horizontally. 

You’ll also be able to share recorded gameplay clips directly to Twitter now. No longer will you need to find the clip in your web-based profile. 

For PC players, the Xbox app will be getting some additional functionality. Microsoft says it has been surprised by the number of players using the app for free, server-based voice chat.

Popular PC games, like League of Legends, will be getting their own hubs within the app. The Xbox app will scrape your executable files and pull in entries from Steam, Uplay, Origin, and others. The purpose is to help surface common interests among gamers who are already connected via other networks. 

The Xbox One storefront is getting an overhaul in this update, too. While strikethrough, more visible pricing is part of the change, Microsoft still isn’t quite ready to bring cross-buy into the mix. With games like Quantum Break supporting the feature via code entry, this is hopefully in the works for a future update.

The preview build will be pushed out to participants throughout the day. It will go into full release this summer.


Our Take
Allowing headset users to use commands like “record that” has been a needed update for quite a while. Cortana worked well in demo, but I’m curious if it will fare better in the home environment. Xbox One voice commands have been far from perfect, but when they do work, they’re quite handy.

On paper these improvements seem like a number of little things. However, seeing them all come together in demo made an impact.