Xbox One is getting an update starting today, echoing some of the major changes coming to Windows in its forthcoming Creators Update. The big new additions include streaming via Microsoft’s own Twitch competitor Beam, as well as a brand new Xbox user experience made up of a new design for Guide, improvements to Home and more.
The new features are designed around encouraging gamers to stream more often, providing easier access to those aspects of the UI. The overhaul can be seen as a push for Beam in this way, which it acquired last year. Beam is a Twitch competitor designed around offering more ways for audiences to interact with streamers, and Microsoft clearly sees it as a way to bring the popularity of game streaming back within its own domain. It highlights that the new Beam integration means you don’t have to download or activate any additional software or accounts – Beam is fully native in Xbox.
Other big new features include the new Home design, which is designed for improved performance, and which puts content related to the games you’re currently playing front and center. This is part of the ongoing evolution of the platform back to being primarily a gaming device, though at the Xbox One’s outset it was positioned more as a media hub for all types of content.
The Guide is also reconfigured, providing quick access to media controls and your most used content in a menu you can access via the Xbox button on your controller. There’s also improved multitasking, including in-game Achievement tracking via an overlaid UI element. Cortana will also be available on top of whatever else you’re doing, so you don’t need to jump entirely out of the action to control music, set reminders and do more via voice controls.
Beam broadcast and the new Beam viewing app, which is rolling out to all users, are again a big focal point here. Other additions like new accessibility features, screen time limits for parents of younger kids and Blu-ray bitstream passthrough for native audio decoding on home theatre setups are also nice additions. however.
The nice thing about consoles and their long shelf life is the extremely iterative approach their makers take to their core software. The centrality of Beam to this new Xbox experience seems like it could be more of a distraction for a large number of users, but otherwise these changes feel like a clear win.