It's very nearly football season here in the US, and that means Microsoft is ready to release a new and updated version of its NFL app for the Xbox One. Like last year's version, the NFL app provides a wealth of information for fans, including video clips, fantasy stats, and real-time feeds when paired with a paid subscription to the NFL's services. It also lets you pin a score ticker to the side of the screen so you don't miss the action if you're watching something else or playing a video game.
This time around, however, Microsoft has redesigned the app with a fresh interface and added what it's calling Next Gen Stats, which leverage the data fed from the trackers in every NFL player's uniform. Next Gen Stats replays look like they were pulled right out of Madden or another football video game, and they display information such as velocity, top speed, and distance traveled for each player on the field. Viewers can see the exact routes that each player took during a play and analyze just like a coach on the field. Microsoft says that the new app supports fantasy football programs from NFL.com, CBS, and Yahoo, and it will let fantasy players track their teams and stats in real time every game day.
Speaking of on the field, Microsoft is also updating the Surface tablets used by teams during games to review plays. This year, teams will use Surface Pro 3 tablets instead of Surface Pro 2 models. The Pro 3 models are lighter and larger than the Pro 2s, yet still have the same weather proofing and pen capabilities that coaches and players have become accustomed to. Microsoft updated the capabilities of the software, as well, letting coaches and players choose different colors for telestrator functions, as well as draw out plays on a white board. During the preseason, the Surfaces on the sidelines will be able to display video clips for the very first time, showing seven seconds of action for each play. Referees will be able to use the Surfaces to review calls that are challenged by teams during the preseason as well.
Both efforts are the product of Microsoft's five-year, $400 million deal with the NFL, which is now in its third year. Through the partnership, Microsoft owns the interactive TV rights for the NFL, which allows it to build experiences like the Xbox One's NFL app. Windows 10 also will have a companion app that can display stats, video, and other information. Microsoft's Todd Stevens says the goal for the Xbox One app is to provide the "best game day experience" for fans, and after seeing a demo of it in action, it's hard to disagree with him there. The new NFL app will be available for free later this month.
Correction, 1:30PM, August 7th, 2015: Updated article to remove mention of ESPN fantasy football integration in the new NFL app. ESPN fantasy football data is only available in ESPN's own app for the Xbox One.