Participants of the Xbox Insider Program are getting a sweet present on Tuesday in the form of early access to new Xbox One features that will roll out in the Creators Update this spring. Like the participants in the Windows Insider program for Windows 10 PCs, these Xbox One owners are getting a first taste of what’s to come for Microsoft’s console. This initial wave will hit a small “subset” of Xbox One owners first followed by the rest of the Xbox Insider Program community in the near future.
In a blog posted on Monday, Xbox partner group program manager Scott Henson detailed everything arriving in the first wave including a new look for the Home screen (finally), an updated Guide, and a better multitasking system for getting quick access to music, saved screenshots, and more. Cortana can now handle timers and reminders, too, and will continue to receive reliability and performance improvements over the coming weeks.
“One important area for us with this release is to enable Xbox One to be able to be used and played by everyone,” Henson said. “Take for instance our new Copilot feature, which allows two controllers to act as if they were one. This will help make Xbox One more inviting to new gamers needing assistance, more fun by adding cooperative controls for any game, and easier for players who need unique configurations to play.”
As for the revamped Home screen, Henson said that Microsoft received lots of feedback about the current Xbox One Home screen, with users calling it “complex” and requiring too many button presses to perform a simple task. To alleviate the pains of navigating the Xbox One, the team set out to simplify the interface and speed up the process of accessing the games and content users care most about.
That said, that gigantic tile (box) playing host to the app or game currently in use has become a smaller icon accompanied by a few related options (Achievements, Game Hub, etc.). This icon is highlighted by “hero art” splashed in the background if Xbox One owners aren’t using a custom backdrop on their Home screen.
Complementing the redesigned Home screen is an updated Guide that appears as an overlay when pressing the controller’s Xbox button. The Guide parks on the left side with a new start page designed for quick access to games and content. Here users can immediately jump back to Home, access the Store, load up a recently played game, and even control the music playing in the background.
“In addition to adding a new start page to Guide, we’re also evolving our multitasking system,” Henson said. “To simplify discoverability and to make it much quicker to get to the things you care about most, our multitasking features will also be designed to work well with the new Guide.”
For instance, after loading up the Guide, users can tap on the X or Y to instantly record gameplay. The Guide is also where Xbox One owners will be able to instantly broadcast gameplay to Beam, the Twitch competitor Microsoft acquired in August 2016. That streaming feature is expected to roll out to Xbox Insider Program participants several weeks from now.
To see everything that Microsoft is dishing out in its first wave to Xbox Insider Program participants, check out the lengthy blog post here.