Microsoft is at the Gamescom show in Germany which kicks off today and has announced numerous interesting updates and tweaks to the Xbox One operating system.
Here’s how Microsoft describe the updates:
New “Friends” section – The new Friends section has been available for a few early access Preview members and we’re expanding it to everyone enrolled in the Preview program. The new Friends section enables users to see at a glance what’s going on with their friends. They can stay up-to-date with their current activities, the most popular games their friends are playing, and a Gamerscore leaderboard to see who has improved their Gamerscore over the last 30 days.
Snap Center – Some of gamers’ favorite features in the Xbox 360 guide, are coming to Xbox One in a way that’s now truly be side-by-side with games. Messages, friends, parties, and achievements will all be available in the new Snap Center, providing a seamless way to switch back and forth without having to leave a game.
Threaded Messages – Keeping gamers in their games while they multitask has been a huge focus. The new Messages app features threaded messages with the full conversation history – including embedded links to Game DVR clips – that can be viewed without interrupting gameplay.
Media Player – A new app will be available soon that enables users to play media files from either an attached USB device or from a network connected home media server that supports DLNA protocols. The preview version of the Media Player app will initially only support USB devices, with DLNA support coming soon. Xbox One will support more formats than Xbox 360, including support for dozens of new file formats like mpeg 2 TS, animated gifs and mkv which will be added by the end of the year.
Xbox One Digital TV Tuner – Announced last week, this new accessory will enter a limited preview program in Europe (UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain), in advance of its retail launch beginning in October.
Stream TV to SmartGlass – Launching first in markets receiving the Xbox Digital TV Tuner, Xbox One owners will be able to stream their TV across their home network to their smartphones and tablets using the Xbox SmartGlass app. They can also pause, play and rewind as well as change channels, without interrupting gameplay on the Xbox One. This will work for SmartGlass apps on Windows, iOS, and Android.
Boot to TV – Now Xbox One owners will be able to set their console to boot directly to television when coming out of connected standby.
Live TV mini guide – For markets where OneGuide is available, a new mini guide on the bottom of the screen will display details about the TV content that is currently playing. Users can quickly change channels and see what’s on other channels, while still watching TV.
Country Expansion – We’re doing a lot of work on the backend to prepare for Xbox One to launch in 29 new markets in the coming weeks.
If you ask us, we reckon the most interesting updates are the ability to stream TV over to your devices – so you could conceivably watch stuff on your Sky box via SmartGlass in your bedroom, and also the media player with support for a wide range of file formats. The full list is:
3gp audio, 3gp video, 3gp2, aac, adts, animated gif, asf, avi divx, avi dv, avi uncompressed, avi xvid, bmp, jpg, gif, h264 avchd, mjpeg, mkv, mov, mp3, mpeg 1 ps, mpeg 2, mpeg 2 hd, mpeg 2 ts, mpeg 4 h264 aac, mpeg 4 sp, png, tiff, wav, wma, wma lossless, wma pro, wma voice, wmv, wmv hd
What’s most interesting there is MKV support – which will immediately make the Xbox One a more attractive purchase to anyone looking for a means to play, umm, those completely legally downloaded movies on their TV.
The new features will be rolling out to Xbox One owners in the “coming months”. We’ll let you know when they land.