Beacons, cloud storage, live TV... stay tuned here as we track Microsoft's latest revamping to the Xbox 360 dashboard!
Mar 26, 2012
A big part of Microsoft's major revamp of the Xbox 360 Dashboard late last year was lots of new video content, such as Verizon's FiOS TV, Vevo, and ESPN, but a few selections were going to be absent until early 2012. One of those was Comcast's Xfinity On Demand service, but an FAQ on the Xfinity site seems to indicate that it'll be launching sooner than later. The biggest item of note here for potential users of this service is the news that Comcast will not count streaming of Xfinity On Demand against users' bandwidth caps. As Comcast says on its site, "since the content is being delivered over our private IP network and not the public Internet, it does not count against a customer's bandwidth cap."Read Article >
There's a few other noteworthy tidbits as well, like the fact that the Xfinity TV app will work with Kinect and the fact that the app will be integrated into the new Xbox Dashboard's new search functionality. However, it's worth remembering that this only applies to Xfinity On Demand TV — there's no ability to watch live TV included whatsoever. That's all good news for anyone who hoped to heavily utilize this service once it launches — as to when that launch will be, Comcast still isn't saying. We heard "early 2012," so we'd expect to see it sooner than later.
Dec 13, 2011
The Xbox 360 has been compatible with IPTV systems around the world for a while now, but the new Verizon FiOS Live TV streaming app is the first time we can remember a US cable company allowing customers to jettison their set-top box and watch streaming HD content on their TVs. We just tried it out and it basically works as advertised: there's a decent selection of channels and the image quality was solid when the HD indicator clicked on, although our actual FiOS TV image still looked better. There's some definite lag in the program guide and changing channels wasn't terribly fast, but overall it's pretty easy to figure out what's going on and make it work. Perhaps most interestingly, we didn't have to do any setup at all: Verizon figured out our Xbox was connected to our FiOS internet connection and automatically configured the app for our channels without any intervention at all. Nice.Read Article >
There's the same basic Kinect functionality as all the other new apps, where you can swipe to move between menus and "long-press" to select things, but as usual it's just faster and more precise to use the controller.
Dec 13, 2011
Yesterday we got excited to see YouTube on our Xbox Live Dashboard preview, and now the video portal should be available to all Xbox 360 owners, along with Verizon FiOS TV, TMZ, MSNBC, and more. All should be available via the apps marketplace, and while anyone can download Verizon's app, you won't be able to use it at all without FiOS TV and internet.Read Article >
Internationally, Microsoft also announced today Rogers on Demand for Canada, SBS on Demand for Australia , Blinkbox for the United Kingdom, and more. There are a number of big video apps still due out this month, including Crackle, Dailymotion, Vevo, UFC, and Vudu — those can be seen teasing everyone in a "coming soon" menu on the Xbox Live Dashboard. Full list of today's new additions and their respective regions below!
Dec 12, 2011
Turns out "later in December" wasn't that long at all for YouTube. The video portal is now available as an Xbox Live app for beta users, rolling out less than one week after the new Dashboard. It should appear in the apps marketplace window. YouTube shares the same Metro UI look as the rest of the platform and features Kinect support as well as access to your Watch Later, Playlists, Favorites, and Subscriptions. You can like / dislike from within the video, show captions and get a glimpse of the description. No sign of comments anywhere, but many will regard this as a Good Thing. HD playback works clearly but not without a few infinite hiccups that required backing in and out, and no matter how hard we tried, we couldn't get our favorite Phoenix and Daft Punk bootleg concert video to work. Here's hoping public release isn't too far off.Read Article >
[Thanks to everyone who sent this in!]
- Read Article >
Just like with the new Dashboard's "Bing" search, you can use the Companion to find games, TV shows, movies, and music (text only, no voice functionality). The games pages will tell you which of your friends have played recently (and how long ago that might've been), list your achievements, and suggest related games. Choosing to play will load up the title on your screen, prompting you to be sure if you're already playing something else or watching video.
After an unfortunate last-minute hiccup, Microsoft's Larry Hyrb, better known as Major Nelson, has announced via Twitter that the Xbox Live dashboard update is "in the process of rolling out to all Xbox Live members." We haven't seen the update land on our consoles yet, but reports have started rolling it that some users have.Read Article >
We hope you like tiles — in addition to a new, Metro-style UI, the update adds Bing voice search, beacons, cloud saves, and more. Keep an eye for a much-improved Netflix app for Xbox Live today, too, as well as a few other new and / or upgraded apps. Windows Phone users can expect the Xbox Companion App sometime today, which as the name suggests will turn your handset into a console remote for both navigating the menus and video playback controls.
Dec 6, 2011
Bad news, slightly good news. After announcing a 10:00AM ET launch time for today's Xbox Live Dashboard update, Microsoft's Larry Hyrb — known more affectionately online as Major Nelson — announced via Twitter that it would be "slightly delayed." A new timeframe will be announced later this afternoon / evening — which sounds to us like it might miss today entirely. In the meantime, our preview build seems to have lost the ability to successfully do Bing search, but this might just be a temporary affliction.Read Article >
On the upside, the Netflix app has been updated — but only those in the preview build. The 74.62MB download provides rows and rows of movie posters on the front page and some new menu features while watching video: tapping "A" and then hitting down on the joystick during a TV show episode, for example, brings up a description, the option to navigate to another episode, and suggestions in a second panel. There's still no voice search for Kinect. Overall, the experience is laggy and slow-loading, but it's also in the beta program only at this point — hopefully that all changes by the time it does a public release.
With the new Xbox Live dashboard update rolling out this week, we thought it'd be fun to make a video walkthrough to showcase some of the new features you'll be using December 6th: a new Metro UI feel (à la Windows Phone, Windows 8, and the now-defunct Kinect Hub), Bing voice search, "Beacons" for finding multiplayer friends, and the 511MB of cloud storage you can enable... which by the way, only seems to work with new save files and nothing that was saved prior to the update. Bummer.Read Article >
Overall, the new UI is a refreshing and much-needed update to 2008's New Xbox Experience, itself the first major revision after its "Blades" interface from launch. Menu navigation is much quicker, the voice search overall picked up what we were saying, and as a bonus it now has more natural language input — you can now say "play Modern Warfare 3" as opposed to "play disc," for example. It wasn't flawless, of course, but it makes a stronger case for Kinect's microphone capabilities. The "hover hand" to wave open apps is still there, and yes, it's still painful to the point of uselessness. Hey, at least it's fun with The Gunstringer.
Though Microsoft has been forthright with the Xbox Live dashboard update (due out this week) and its content partners, it has so far remained largely silent on when those service providers would be joining up. The company tonight released a schedule / roadmap that extends through early 2012. Of the over forty partners listed, less than one-fourth are making the launch this week — many of those already out and receiving visual refreshes, like a particularly nice one we saw from Netflix that has more in-video features and a cool new aesthetic.Read Article >
As is the case, what's more interesting are the apps that won't be making launch week. YouTube, Verizon FiOS TV, Vevo, UFC, Crackle, and 22 more are all listed under "later in December." Dailymotion is listed here, too, even though it's been working great in our Xbox Live dashboard preview build; Microsoft told us, as part of the beta program, we would continue to have access to some apps not yet released to the general public. That applies to SyFy, too, which is in the current preview build but not on the latest list that Microsoft sent out this evening.
Nov 29, 2011
Microsoft said back in October that it would be teaming up with various TV partners to bring more streaming content to the Xbox, and Verizon's just announced that it will be adding 26 live channels to the Xbox Live TV for FiOS customers sometime in December. Kinect voice and gesture support will also be included, meaning that you'll be able to control things by speaking to your Xbox and waving about. The service will stream TV directly through the Xbox via a standalone application, without the need for a separate set-top box.Read Article >
To get the channels, customers will require an Xbox Live Gold membership and must be subscribed to FiOS TV and internet service plans which start at $89.99 a month. Verizon's sweetening the deal for new customers, though, with a 12-month Gold membership and a copy of Xbox Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary if they sign up by January 21st. Hopefully we'll know more about plans from Comcast and Microsoft's other partners when the Xbox Live update rolls out on December 6th.
Nov 9, 2011Read Article >
The other big addition is a web marketplace for Zune video content. While you won't be able to watch to watch from the website itself, much in the same way you can currently purchase games, Xbox.com users will be able to browse content and subsequently buy / rent movies and TV shows to watch later on your Xbox 360, Windows Phone device, or Zune player (hey, it could happen). Still no exact date for the Xbox 360 system update, other than "holiday 2011" — which, yes, is anytime between now and 2012. Check out a gallery of the new Xbox.com below!
Oct 12, 2011Read Article >
That's not the only upgrade out of Xbox this week, though, as Microsoft's also introducing a brand new 320GB hard drive cartridge for the slimline Xbox 360. Considering it costs $129.99, it's not a terribly compelling upgrade for owners of the 250GB version, nor anyone who's recently looked up the price of a 320GB hard drive and cares to stand on principle, but if the 4GB of flash storage in your holiday Kinect bundle is stretched to the brim, you don't have many other options. Oh, and it comes with a download code for Lego Star Wars III, so there's that too.
Oct 3, 2011Read Article >
Judging by the recent spike in uploaded footage of the new Xbox 360 dashboard, it seems the most recent update — version 2.0.14448.0 — just started rolling out for the console's developer kits. The Metro UI-influenced design is largely what we saw when first unveiled earlier this year at E3 — a much cleaner user experience that on the surface seems easier to navigate. What isn't nearly as exciting visually — but indeed is probably the biggest takeaway from these videos — is the settings menu that shows where you select your live TV provider (no spoilers here; specific providers were not listed) and cloud storage settings. There are currently three options under cloud storage, including "on" and "off," but the third one, marked "back up saved games," is for testing units only and won't be present once this officially rolls out to consumers. Two videos after the break, and keep in mind this is definitely still a work-in-progress — the lack of (properly formatted) ads won't be the case come launch.
Jun 6, 2011
We're not quite sure why this didn't make today's press conference — if they were really hurting for time, the Disneyland Adventures could've been cut short — but an email just went out from executive Marc Whitten announcing more Xbox Live details. And some of these are quite big.Read Article >
In addition to the new dashboard design, live TV, and Bing-infused Kinect voice search, Whitten promises cloud storage for your gamertag that includes the full profile, Microsoft Points, and game saves. Additionally, we can look forward to "Beacons," which you can use to tell friends what you want to play and can be used to set up matches. Request Gears of War 3, watch Netflix while you wait — pretty clever. Full letter after the break!
Jun 6, 2011
At the E3 keynote Microsoft just dropped its all new Xbox Live dashboard into our laps. The slick new tile-heavy interface (think: Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8) has Kinect voice search powered by Bing, which extends universally across Netflix, Hulu, games and movies — all at the same time. (You can search "X-Men," for example, and get video selections and the game adaptation of Wolverine.)Read Article >
They've also outed Xbox Live TV which will bring (you guessed it) live streaming TV with content partnerships (like Canal+, Sky TV and Foxtel). Oh, and YouTube is also hitting Xbox Live in the fall, which is when the refresh arrives. We're on the edge of our seats to see some video of the voice search in action, and we'll be updating with more information on this very welcome overhaul as we get it.
Jun 3, 2011
Microsoft may end up being the only console maker this year not to reveal new hardware — Sony has the NGP / PlayStation Vita and Nintendo has the Wii successor codenamed "Project Cafe" — but that doesn't preclude them from making a splash at their E3 keynote. As if to curb any potential apathy towards the event, the company released new data showing "dramatic gains" in Xbox 360 hardware sales in its fifth and sixth years (see the chart, above). The message is clear: Microsoft doesn't have to reveal new hardware, it's doing just fine with the old one, thank you very much. (It helps, too, that its new Kinect hardware was the focus of last year's E3, and has since become a Guinness World Record holder for fastest-selling consumer electronics device.)Read Article >
So if it's not hardware, what software can we expect the folks in Redmond to show off? As with Nintendo and Sony, we've been combing through all the truths, half-truths, and hearsay floating about the internet and congealed them all together to form our predictions for next week's E3 keynote. It's all after the break.