Microsoft rolls out an updated dashboard every fall. Sometimes they are huge updates and sometimes they are more subtle. This is a more subtle update with little design changes but some more integrated applications. The biggest of them all is Xbox Music and the most talked about has to be Internet Explorer. If you haven’t already received the update don’t worry because they’re coming.
Let’s start off with Xbox Music. Xbox Music is the re-branding of Zune so if you know what that it is then you know what Xbox Music is. If you don’t know what Zune is then read on. Xbox Music is a subscription streaming service with the ability to buy music, all bundled together and available across all devices, that is, if they are Microsoft devices. Microsoft thinks the current model is like a bad infomercial, we service hop. Their example, “you’re listening to an Internet radio station at work, say Pandora, and you hear a new song you love. You quickly stop what you’re doing and bookmark the song before it stops playing. Later, in the car, you open Pandora to look up the name of the bookmarked song, then you open Spotify so you can use your subscription to listen to it again. Two weeks later, you’re thoroughly in love with the song, and decide you want to buy it so you can burn it to a mix CD you’re making a friend, so you purchase the MP3 on Amazon or iTunes.” That had me laughing, maybe people do that. Me, I use Rdio online and through my phone. If I want a song it is there, in the cloud, indefinitely and not taking up space on my devices.
Internet Explorer. They talked about this at E3 and even though I was in the crowd, I think I zoned it out. It seems like way to much work to use your voice and Smart Glass to browse websites on your TV. I rather quickly whip out my phone to check out a website. But what would be cool is to have the tab syncing so I can pull up a page on my Xbox to use the bigger screen and share it with others in the room.
Smart Glass. You keep hearing about it but what the hell is it? Smart Glass is an app that works in conjunction with Xbox Music, Xbox Video, Internet Explorer and games. With Xbox Music, you can listen to your music from your tablet, phone or Xbox. Pause on any of the devices and bring it up on another device. With Xbox Video, some titles may have special features that would pop-up in Smart Glass while you are watching. The examples they show are with Game of Throne, you can see the entire map and where all the characters are at and even get more information on characters. When using Internet Explorer you can use Smart Glass as a mouse, to scroll, click and pinch to zoom. Finally with Games, imagine having more screen space and a larger mini-map? That’s totally possible by removing the mini-map from your TV and placing it in the Smart Glass application.
Here are all features that are rolling out with the new Xbox Dashboard:
- Refreshed Xbox 360 Dashboard. We’ve updated the UI with a few things, including an updated layout with more tiles, a combined TV & Movies channel and, in the US, a Sports destination.
- Internet Explorer for Xbox. With Internet Explorer on Xbox, you can easily find and view internet content on the biggest screen in the house, including HTML5 videos.
- Recommendations and Ratings. Recommendations will allow you to discover new favorites, generated based on a number of variables including the content you previously viewed, what your friends are consuming and what is most relevant and popular with our Xbox community. You can now rate content yourself and also see Rotten Tomatoes ratings.
- Pinning. Pinning lets you personalize the dashboard by saving your favorite movies, TV shows, games, music, videos and websites right to the home screen. It’s as easy as opening an app or a favorite movie and clicking “pin.”
- Xbox Video. Formerly called Zune Video Marketplace, Xbox Video offers hundreds of thousands of TV shows and movies for buying or renting in instant HD streaming.
- Recent. Previously called Quick Play, the Recent view gives you a list of movies, games, apps or other types of content that you most recently accessed on the console.
- Enhanced Search. The last Xbox LIVE update brought Bing voice search to Xbox so you could use voice to search for movies, TV shows, actors, directors and artists. This year we added genre search to the list, so now you can search for action, comedy, romance, drama or sci-fi. Bing voice search now includes results for video across the Web, including YouTube.
- International Expansion of Voice Search. We’ve expanded our Kinect voice search capabilities to 9 new countries – Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Ireland.
[via Major Nelson]