Microsoft is rolling out updates this week that will allow Xbox One owners to use external hard drives with their consoles, control their TVs using the OneGuide interface, and see their friends' real names on Xbox Live. The upcoming update, detailed in late May, also brings improvements to the Xbox SmartGlass companion app, and lets Xbox owners use apps such as Netflix and Hulu without needing a $60-a-year Xbox Live Gold subscription.
Updated Xbox One consoles will support up to two external USB 3.0 compatible hard drives, a feature that wasn't available at the console's launch. External drives will automatically become the default installation location for Xbox One games when connected, but they will have to have more than 256GB storage to be detected by the console. The Xbox One doesn't have the software library yet to justify adding terabytes of storage space to your console, but in a video walkthrough of the new update, Microsoft's Richard Irving said users can detach their external drives to take their installed games to play on a friend's Xbox One console.
Irving also explained how Xbox One users could choose to share their real names on their Xbox Live profiles. Those that do select to add their real name to their gamertag can select to share it with all of the people on their friends list, all of their friends as well, or a manually selected group. Irving says the move will make it easier to sift through bloated friend lists.
The "really, really big" update extends outside of the console itself, bringing tweaks to the SmartGlass Xbox companion app. You can now use your SmartGlass-enabled device to re-order your Xbox One dashboard's pins, watch Twitch game livestreams on your tablet, and control your TV with your device acting as a universal remote. Microsoft has emphasized the importance of TV in its Xbox One pitch, and the new update also brings the console's TV app, OneGuide, worldwide. The app allows your console to control a set-top box, and lets users set up Kinect voice commands to do things such as change the channel or adjust volume.
Games installed on external hard drives can be played on Xbox One consoles
Microsoft is updating the Xbox 360 at the same time as the Xbox One, and both consoles will benefit from a change to the rules about who can access Xbox Live apps. More than 180 apps, including Twitch, HBO GO, and Hulu Plus, will be made available to all Xbox One and Xbox 360 users, even if they haven't stumped up the money for an Xbox Live Gold subscription. Those that do pay for Gold will now have access to two free Xbox One games a month, as part of Microsoft's "Games for Gold" scheme, as well as qualify for a free Hulu Plus trial. Microsoft didn't specify exactly when the updates would hit both consoles, but said it would begin rolling them out globally this week.