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Holiday Xbox 360 dashboard update offers social achievements, Bing search


Unofficially leaked by a YouTube user last month, Microsoft officially released information about the next planned update to the Xbox 360 dashboard earlier this week. One large change to the dashboard includes a higher level of integration with social networks. Using the new Social tab within the interface, users will be able to set a “beacon” to alert friends on Facebook about playing a specific game. This “beacon” also acts as a game invitation that doesn’t have an expiration date. In addition, users will be able to brag about specific achievements over Facebook, but only if the user specifies the action. Users can also set the updates to fire out constantly as achievements are earning while playing a game, but those Facebook updates may be marked as spam by friends if the frequency is out of control.  

bingdashupdate-xmen-searchKinect integration has also been expanded and gesture controls are more widespread across the entire interface. Similar to how a user would control actions on an iPad, swiping gestures move the menus. Speech recognition also works with the Kinect system and users can directly travel to tabs within the interface by stating “Xbox: Tab Name”. Also tied into the speech recognition, users will be able to search for content on the system by stating “Bing: Content Name”. For instance, saying ‘Bing: Gears of War” would bring up all content related to the popular shooter series from Epic Games. However, the search function is restricted to content available on Xbox Live.

Building on the success of adding ESPN programming to the console, Microsoft is in discussions with many cable providers in helping turn the Xbox 360 into a potential replacement for the set-top box. Company officials didn’t have any new partnerships to announced, but are hoping for greater live TV integration before the launch of the Fall update. A beta version of the interface is launching next month to select users and all users can expect to see a complete roll-out of the new dashboard by the end of 2011.

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Xbox 360 dashboard update adds 50 new web streaming and cable TV partners

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The full list of partners are below. Some of them require a full cable TV subscription, while others will not. The new upgrade will be able to search through all services connected to an Xbox. So if you want to find, say, The Office, you only have to search for it in Bing and Microsoft will find the app you need to watch it. Kinect users will have expanded voice control options as well.

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Xbox Dashboard update on November 15?

At E3 this year, amid the massive stage show by Microsoft, one of the key points that it continually pushed was its Xbox dashboard, and the coming changes to it. We’ve already seen an upgrade to the ESPN app, and Hulu Plus is firmly entrenched as well. But there is plenty more to come, including new search features, more social network integration and more TV options. We know all that is coming, the only question is when.

According to an internal memo circulating throughout PayPal and obtained by Kotaku, the next upgrade for the dashboard will hit consoles on November 15—the tenth anniversary of the release of the original Xbox.

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Xbox LIVE dashboard upgrade leaks

YouTube user and Xbox 360 mod expert iTzLuPo has posted a video revealing what is purported to be the latest Xbox dash upgrade. He says a friend who wishes to remain anonymous tipped him off to the new look and tools. We’ve already seen the Windows mobile UI refresh and heard Kinect voice commands will be improved, but the video offered a few more details. Unfortunately, it's been pulled (the above image is not from the video).
As per usual, you’re advised to take everything you seen with a grain of salt. That said, there are a few new features that deserve mention, many of which were hinted at during Microsoft's E3 press conference, but since then we've heard very little.

Discoverable: A new application called Discoverable shows up in the video and is a service that helps “companion devices” find your Xbox. Smartphones and Bluetooth devices would connect to your console seamlessly. We heard earlier this summer that Windows 8 would integrate Xbox LIVE as well, so maybe there’s some sort of PC-connectivity that will be part of this as well.
Skype: ITzLuPo insists that Skype will be woven into Xbox and will appear in the dashboard. It will integrate with LIVE.
Beacons: These let you update your social sites (Facebook and Xbox LIVE are specifically mentioned) in advance with what time you plan to play.
Kinect: Kinect voice command will be more extension and have more gestures you can use. 
YouTube: YouTube will be available via the dashboard, as will Bing search. 

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