Of all the features that Microsoft has added to the Xbox One since release – including support for external hard drives, dedicated servers for Party Chat and even backwards compatibility in the next few months – there’s been one common complaint surrounding the user interface. That is, it’s rather slow. We don’t even mean it should be loading up in two seconds rather than three. Oftentimes there can be quite the delay in launching an app, ranging several seconds, and that extends to generally navigating the user interface as well.
However, it seems all that will finally change when the Fall update goes live. GamingBolt’s Leonid Meikhov had a chance to speak to Xbox One platform manager Richard Irving at E3 2015 about the same. During this time, a demonstration of the user interface’s various aspects was showcased and Irving revealed a wealth of new information.
Irving cut to the chase immediately when he stated that the, “Brand new Xbox One User Interface experience that will be going out this fall and is really focused around speed and getting to things faster.
“Our design point of the new Xbox experience is speed and making all of the things you do on Xbox Live, both in and out of the game much faster. What is familiar is that the user can go left and right through the categories, but we have added a vertical scroll element that takes you deeper within the category.”
“So as you can see my recently played games and apps, I can now scroll vertically through it and when I reach the end of the list, I can find another game in the collection that is ready to be launched and just below you will find pins. And remember we want everything you want to do on Xbox One to be faster so we have some great accelerators. Hold the left trigger and I’m right at the top of the list and when I hold the right trigger I am right at my pins.”
What exactly does that mean for your average gamer though? “So one scenario, I am on Fable Legends right now and I want to play Minecraft which I know is in my pins. I just pull the right trigger and I am in my pins area and I just hit A and am ready to launch Minecraft.”
There’s a lot more to the pins than just launching games though. “One of the things we are changing is that as you can see in my pins are contextual items and so the animated avatars and gamer pictures represent my friends that are online and are playing this game right now and I can join them and play. We also have a quick link to the Game Hubs.
“Game Hubs are a feature that we shipped earlier this year and they are aggregation of all the social information on Xbox Live about a particular game so activity feed, Game DVR clips, achievements, leaderboards, all of the stuff in one place. What is neat about Game Hubs is that game developers can control them and when they do that they will be able to post announcements in the activity feed and amplify content. But they will also be able to publish headlines directly on the home screen. So for example, the Fable Legends devs have released a new heroes bundle and they can announce it on the home page or the Ori development team has released a new patch and they want to reveal the details of that.
“One of the things that our fans really wanted was as they were making this content about their gaming history such as screenshots, Game DVR, achievements, leaderboards and they are making these big narratives about a particular game so they need faster access not only to the content but also be able to share them faster. So you see the link here and I can share achievements and I just press A and I see the list of content and the same goes for screenshot and GameDVR and I can even write a comment to brag about it to my friends.”
When asked if screenshots would automatically be taken when Achievements were unlocked, Irving responded, “However, it will not take screenshot automatically whenever you unlock an achievement. You would still need to double tap the button.
“So I just shared that screenshot and it will go to my activity feed. The community area includes an evolution of the friend’s area compared to the current Xbox One home. So you can see my activity feed, the screenshot I just shared and using the vertical scroll, I can see a Game DVR clip from a friend; I can see an animated text post that we have decorated with an avatar which adds more vibrancy, and even friend’s suggestion.
“So strengthening your circle of friends on Xbox Live and helping you make more friends is something that is very important to us so we are adding friends’ suggestion right in the activity feed. When I respond to those suggestions by adding them as friends, my activity feeds gets automatically updated with my friend’s content which is super cool.
“Another feature is the Trending area which is about what is happening globally on Xbox Live. So I can scroll through it and see that Fable Legends is the most talked about game right now and Minecraft is the most popular game. We are also working to amplify players that are using Xbox Live more. For example we have players who edit a lot of Game DVR clips and broadcasting very popular Twitch streams, gamers who are reaching milestones like 1 million Gamerscore so we want to amplify those accomplishments on the home page itself.
“A lot of fan requests such as ‘Hey, I checked my friends list a lot and I just want it to load faster’ or ‘I want messages to be faster’ so you will see those icons to the left of the home. So I scroll to the left and I get the guide, which is similar to the one found in Xbox 360 but it’s reimagined specifically for the Xbox One. You can see friends list, notifications, messages, and even settings that I may want to manipulate while am playing the game. Of course, I will still be able to snap apps.
“So imagine if am playing Fable Legends, I just double tap the Xbox button and it slides out on the top of the game. You will see the game did not scaled down, you did not saw any loaders for the friends list to load, and it’s instant and responsive.”
That’s some fairly good news for players who like to launch parties or send messages and play games side by side. “One of the important things is to party up with friends and play multiplayer. In my friends list I can now start a party, I can send an invite so now I have a party status so I can go back to playing my game and can check my party status. Same thing with messages, I can see my full conversation history and also record a voice message and send it across. I can go back to gameplay which is all super fast and easy.”
Though there will likely be other features added to the update as we approach the Fall, speeding up the Xbox One’s user interface in nearly every aspect and area of the Dashboard is the top priority for Microsoft right now. Whether it will catch up to the speed of the PS4’s UI remains to be seen but at this rate, it looks to be a very significant improvement over the current status quo.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming Fall update for Xbox One? Let us know in the comments.