Although the Xbox One has shipped over 5 million units as of a few months ago (Microsoft is holding back announcing console sales numbers), it’s hard to forget to backlash that the platform received when it was first announced. Presented to consumers as an ‘all in one entertainment system’ rather than as a dedicated games console with added media features, some fans felt that their best interests were left out in the cold.
The opposition has died down since and features like the Xbox Snap function (which lets players watch TV and play a game at the same time) are now being considered as a selling point. The roll out of these media features was not without its hiccups though as one of the Xbox One’s biggest media features, the ability to watch live TV through the console, didn’t work correctly in PAL territories until an update in March.
Technical issues aside however, there were still eyebrows raised over the fact that many of the proposed media features were only available for subscribers of Netflix or ESPN, services that were originally also only accessible on the Xbox One for Gold membership subscribers (until the June 2014 update). Building on the improvements list – and this is something especially handy for Xbox One owners who don’t subscribe to Netflix or similar services – you can now (finally) view your own media files! Microsoft has just added USB and media player support in the latest Xbox One update.
By far the headline feature of the latest round of Xbox One additions for August 2014, we’ll now be able to access media put onto our Xbox One consoles via a USB memory stick. Including MP3s and MP4s, the new Media Player app will allow for both, making it useful for those with hard-drives chock full of media that they can only use on their computers. Microsoft also says that support for animated gifs, MKVs and DLNA support (to allow us to stream videos and music to our Xbox One consoles via our home media servers) will be coming soon. So we’re still inexplicably behind the previous generation consoles on some features.
Other additions in the latest Xbox One update include OneGuide in Brazil, Mexico, Austria, allowing them to “configure live TV listings” and “use OneGuide and the Universal Remote Control in SmartGlass.” Bandwidth Usage Display will be available for everyone though, meaning that if Netflix is sapping away everyone’s freetime, we’ll now be able to check how much of our bandwidth it’s using up too.
Meanwhile, on the game side of things, Microsoft has updated the Xbox One Party app. Now, players can designate themselves as ‘party leader’ which provides such benefits as changing whether the party requires invitations and they can also boot players from the party. That’s useful to get rid of bad’uns, but for everyone that actually plays nice, it will now show us who is playing what game or using what activity and quickly mute, join or send out invites to make playing with the good guys much easier.
New SmartGlass updates also make it a breeze to share footage from games. In addition to being able to post status messages from the Activity Feed, we can now share items from the Activity Feed or Game Clips, view a personalised Activity Feed on our profiles and record game clips from the Now Playing bar too. If that all seems a bit complicated then Microsoft says that anyone who upgrades the SmartGlass app directly will see a What’s New page highlighting all of the new features which is very handy indeed.