Today, Microsoft announced that Xbox One’s March Update is going live, bringing with it a slab of new features, including Beam streaming, a new Home look, a new improved Guide, and more.
According to Mike Ybarra, Head of Platform Engineering, Microsoft’s major goal with this release is to make streaming your Xbox gameplay easier. And via an update to the navigation of the Xbox console through the new guide, it is aiming to put features and experiences “right at your fingertips.”
Here’s a rundown at some notable new features rolling out to the Xbox One today, which earlier this year were announced and released to Xbox Insider:
An updated look at Home:
One of the first things you’ll notice with this update is a new look for Home on Xbox One. We made these changes to simplify the UI and increase overall system performance. To do that, we’ve optimized for speed and are prioritizing the most valuable content for your games. Now, you’ll see a smaller icon for the game with options to dive deeper into the community surrounding the game, as well as the ability to interact with your Club or find Looking for Group posts, view your Achievements and more. If you do not have a custom background set, you’ll see that the updated Home also spotlights the game you’re currently playing by featuring hero art as your Xbox background.
New way to multitask:
In addition to adding a new start page to Guide, we’re also evolving the way gamers multitask on Xbox One. To simplify discoverability and to make it easier to get to the things you care about most, our multitasking features were designed with the new Guide in mind. We’ve added a new achievement tracker that is active based on the game you’re playing, and allows you to select and follow multiple achievements in an overlay, all while you’re playing. Cortana will also appear as an overlay on your screen, allowing you to set reminders and alarms, access Party controls, and play music with simple voice controls.
Watch, chat and interact with Beam on Xbox One:
Now stream your Xbox gameplay directly from the Guide on your Xbox One, with the ability to manage your Beam broadcasts and interact with fellow gamers on chat overlays that appear on your screen. If you’ve never tried to broadcast your gameplay before, this is the easiest way to get started as you don’t have to download any extra software – Beam broadcasting is built right into your Xbox One. Once you start streaming, Beam makes it easy to connect and engage with your viewers no matter where they are. You’ll also find the new Beam viewing app in My Games and Apps, which lets you watch, chat, and interact with your favorite game streamers in near real-time. To learn more, check out our Beam article.
Enabling Xbox One to be more accessible for everyone:
We felt it was important to enable Xbox One to make gaming experiences more accessible. 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 gamers who can benefit from playing along with another person, more fun for families by adding cooperative controls for any game, and easier for players who need unique configurations to play. We are also adding new enhancements to Magnifier and Narrator, as well as giving more options over audio output and custom rumble settings on a controller, which was previously reserved for the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller. You can find these accessibility options, and more, in Settings > Ease of Access.
Screen time limits (Xbox One):
As we strive to offer the most comprehensive and customizable family features possible, we want gamers of all ages to feel safe and secure when using our platforms. That’s why we’re bringing the family timer feature to Xbox One as screen time limits, updated for today’s digital family. Parents familiar with screen time limits for Windows 10 will find a similar set of controls for Xbox One. Set daily time allowance and limits for each child—your Xbox One will pick those limits up and enforce them whenever the child is signed in. To set up screen time limits, head over to microsoft.com/family, sign in with your parent account, and select “Screen time” for your child’s account. You’ll be able to turn on and set Xbox One and PC screen time limits separately for each child.
Blu-ray player bitstream passthrough:
The Blu-ray disc player on Xbox One now supports bitstream passthrough, which allows your receiver to decode audio natively. All bitstream formats are supported, including newer ones like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. This feature will light up later next week.
Looking ahead, the Windows 10 Creators Update is the next major update on the horizon, arriving on April 11th.