Microsoft is announcing today that Xbox Insiders in the Alpha ring will soon be able to test new features coming in the next major Xbox One system update. There’s no mention of the name, but given the timing, I will refer to this as the Fall Creators Update.
(Yes, Xbox does its own thing when it comes to updates, but Xbox One did have a Creators Update, or a March Update, depending on who you talk to. So I could see this thing being named the September Update or October Update too. We’ll see.)
“This release is the next major update for gaming on Xbox One, and is designed to make the Xbox gaming experience more fun, personalized, and social than ever,” Microsoft corporate vice president Mike Ybarra explains. “We’ve heard feedback from our fans that they want the ability to customize Home the way they want. This new experience on Xbox One gives gamers more choice and delivers fun faster. Updates to Home, Guide, and Community are available today, with updates to Avatars, Game Hubs, profiles and more coming this fall.”
As you may know, the Xbox team offers a unique system for testing pre-release features, and its four rings don’t work as do the rings in the Windows 10 Insider Preview. So this release to the Xbox Insider Program will be tiered, with other rings getting the new features, and new features coming on board, at a later time.
Anyway, here’s what’s new.
More personalization. This update is “all about personalization,” Ybarra says. So the Home view in the Dashboard is all-new yet again, with new customization features that include new “content docks.” But the big deal is that it is literally all customizable, so that you can see the content you want to see, immediately. It sort of sounds like the Windows 10 Start experience, where you can pin and arrange games, apps, people, activity feeds, or any other Xbox item.
New UX with Fluent Design System. As is the case on Windows 10, the Xbox One is a getting a more modern UX courtesy of the Fluent Design System. The result is a “new look and feel” that will no doubt include various translucency effects.
Better performance. More speed is a goal of all major Xbox One updates, and Microsoft accomplishes its gains this time by consolidating Home, Social, and My Games and Apps into a single experience. “No more splash screens means you get to fun even faster,” Ybarra says.
Improved Guide navigation. It’s now easier to switch between tabs in the Guide so you can join friends, broadcast, switch between apps, and return to the Home view. There is a new Guide layout, plus, flyouts for expanding to see more information.
Community improvements. The Community section has been updated with a new Activity Feed layout that shows more content at-a-glance. When you select a feed item, it will be displayed in a new immersive full-screen view. Clubs are now more discoverable. And new titles that will be coming to Arena over the next few months, Ybarra says.
In keeping with previous Xbox One system updates, Microsoft is also making improvements to the gaming features in Windows 10 that are tied to this release. These improvements will arrive in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and include improved Game bar and Mixer broadcasting functionality, plus a new Xbox Live Network Troubleshooting area in Settings.
“This is just the beginning of some major updates arriving for Xbox gamers later this year,” Ybarra says. “We’ll be introducing plenty of new features in the coming months across Xb0X One, Windows 10 PC, Mixer, and mobile devices designed to make your gaming experiences all about you. We’ll be sharing more when the update releases to more fans later this year.”