Microsoft has launched its next major update to select Xbox One and Windows 10 users which brings yet another, much-needed interface overhaul to the Xbox platform with vastly improved speeds. Alpha Ring Insiders are the first to get to test drive the update as of yesterday before it rolls out wide later this year.
The previous major Xbox One interface design sped things up for the console's OS and moved things around while adding some missing features, but it still was nonsensical in its design in where buttons are laid out and how many steps it can take to accomplish simple tasks. This new update however, may address this thanks to a new system dubbed Microsoft Fluent Design which puts control of the interface in the hands of the users.
Users can entirely customize the Home screen, adding any games, apps, or friends easily into what Microsoft calls content blocks. Microsoft may still insert their control with these though (ads) and add new types of content "blocks" over time:
These blocks will evolve over time based on the things you like to do. For example, adding a game to your Home screen may pull in an Activity Feed post from the developer, show when your friends are playing that game online, suggest your next Achievement, and provide a quick shortcut to the Game Hub for that title. We’ll be adding additional types of content blocks in the coming months, so stay tuned for more. The team is always pushing to make the Xbox experience faster and faster. In this release, we’ve eliminated the wait between Home, Social, and My Games and Apps by consolidating them into one dashboard experience. No more splash screens means you get to fun even faster.
Most importantly, everything is faster. Switching between tabs (new tabs are being added as well for People, Home and recent messages, broadcasts and captures, and a new action center [including settings]) is way faster and the same goes for moving between apps. The new guide button layout is supposed to let users find what they need and use most as well.
A big part of the latest update is on the social side, with more focus on clubs and friends. The Activity Feed will show much more information at a glance and comments will be easier/quicker to read. Improvements are also being made for discovery of clubs for interested parties.
On the PC side, Mixer streaming is getting an update to finally give users some more control over the audio (game only audio vs all system audio), troubleshooting for networking issues is being improved, and players can enable/disable Game Mode on a per game basis.
"This is just the beginning of some major updates arriving for Xbox gamers later this year. We’ll be introducing plenty of new features in the coming months across Xbox One, Windows 10 PC, Mixer, and mobile devices designed to make your gaming experiences all about you. As always, we owe some big thanks for all the fan feedback we receive and review from gamers everywhere, as well as to the invaluable members of our Xbox Insider Program for all the feedback they provide regularly. We’ll be sharing more when the update releases to more fans later this year. The team has worked hard, and we hope you enjoy these latest updates to your Xbox One experience! And of course, don’t forget to tell us what you think."
The vague timing of this update currently being "later this year" means there's still work to be done, especially as Microsoft takes in feedback from members of the Xbox Insiders program but we suspect the major update will be timed with the release of the Xbox One X console this holiday season and perhaps the new, more diverse Avatars which are making a comeback to the Xbox platform.