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Microsoft deploys Xbox One Summer Update with loads of new features

Microsoft is rolling out a major Xbox One firmware update today, giving console owners access to long-requested system features like user-selected background music and voice commands via Cortana.

This week’s update also tweaks several aspects of the Xbox One dashboard, overhauling the console’s Game Collection screen and improving content-sharing functionality, among other changes.

Related: Xbox One DVR plans cancelled

After installing the latest Xbox One firmware update, players will be able to listen to their own music during gameplay using the console’s newly released Pandora app. Microsoft revealed that Pandora is “the first of many partners who will support Background Music,” announcing that upcoming Groove Music and iHeartRadio apps will offer similar functionality.

Rival console manufacturer Sony previously introduced streamed background music support for its PlayStation 4 console via a Spotify app released in 2015. Previously, Xbox One players needed to use the console’s Snap functionality to listen to background music loaded on a connected flash drive or other physical media source.

This week also marks the launch of Cortana on Xbox One. Initially available for Windows Phone devices and Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system, Cortana is a digital assistant that interprets and executes voice commands via a headset or the Kinect peripheral. Microsoft notes that Xbox One owners can use Cortana to “find great new games, see what your friends are up to, start a party, accomplish common tasks, turn on your Xbox One if you’re using Kinect, and more.”

Players can also look forward to an overhauled Xbox One Game Collection screen that displays more titles on screen and offers new sorting options. Installed content is now emphasized over previous purchases and backward compatible releases, and available game updates are now clearly listed under a separate tab.

Other improved features in store for this week’s update include language region independence, automatic Activity Feed sharing, and 60 fps game recording. The Xbox One Summer Update is available as a free download starting today, and players will be prompted to update when connecting to Xbox Live.