There’s no hiding the fact that the Xbox One sold quite well in the console’s first days of availability. Analysts expect the Xbox One to continue to do well in 2014, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t features we wish the console had at launch. While not listed, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound is easily a key feature that was questionably omitted at the console’s launch. Sure, the console supports Dolby Digital surround sound through its HDMI port, but not through optical out, a port that many users use for surround sound systems and gaming headsets. Thankfully, this missing functionality will be remedied very soon.
The upcoming March update for the console, which some people already have access to via early-access preview tickets, enables Dolby Digital surround sound via that optical audio out port. Combined with the recent availability of the Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter, which allows players to plug in their older headsets and allows for surround sound, this finally plugs up the surround sound hole the Xbox One had since its launch.
Also part of the March update are key changes to the Xbox One’s party and friend systems, which include party chat turned on by default, the ability to invite friends to a party, game, or both, and a “Find Someone” feature, which allows players to find people by their Gamertags. The updates are timed to coincide with the launch of the console’s first major multiplayer exclusive in Titanfall, a game that also had Microsoft tweaking the Xbox One’s controller to improve gameplay.
Additionally, Xbox One owners will finally be able to stream their gameplay via Twitch. Previously, users were only able to watch streams from Twitch but not able to stream games themselves after the feature was removed from the Xbox One launch at the last minute. The voice command “Xbox, broadcast” will activate game broadcasts, and users have the ability to archive whatever footage they stream, the latter of which is a feature still missing on the PlayStation 4 where Twitch has proven mighty popular. Owners can also opt to put the Kinect to good use by allowing a picture-in-picture feed, much like the PlayStation 4 Twitch app allows with the PlayStation Camera.
CVG also adds that the March update will add in an option for users to switch between the default 60Hz refresh rate to a slower 50Hz to address a noticeable flickering that some European users have reported.
Xbox One owners can expect the big system update on March 11th, the day of Titanfall’s North American launch on PC and Xbox One (it releases on the 25th for Xbox 360). We’re hoping that we don’t see more software bugs like the one that accompanied the most recent update. Seeing as this is software we’re dealing with, though, expect to see user complaints of something going wrong. After all, a lot of what this update is adding or improving are features that should have been ready for the system’s arguably-too-early launch.
While surround sound via optical out should have been a feature from the start, it’s still nice to see it enabled. With missing features now being addressed, it makes us wonder whether Microsoft rushed to get the Xbox One to market. To be fair, though, the PlayStation 4 also launched with glaring omissions, such as the lack of DLNA and MP3 support, as well as the ability to play Blu-rays in 3D, a feature found on the PlayStation 3. This is the era we live in folks.
Hopefully, the upcoming Xbox One update will lead to a more cohesive, user-friendly experience.