Xbox Insiders in the Alpha ring now have early access to some cool new features that are coming soon to Xbox One. Among them is the ability to gift games to others.
“The Microsoft Store now enables gifting of most digital Xbox One games, ‘durable’ downloadable content (DLC) (map packs, weapon skins, etc.), Xbox Live Gold, and Xbox Game Pass, right from your console,” Microsoft’s Jason Beaumont explains. “Just choose an eligible digital game sold in the Store, select ‘Buy as Gift,’ and send it to your friends or family members by picking their Gamertag or entering their email address.”
I happen to be in the Alpha ring of the Xbox Insiders program, so I was able to check this out. Sure enough, there is a “Buy as Gift” button available for many of the games I browsed in the Store. Smartly, it’s available for games you’ve already purchased for yourself as well.
It’s not available for all games, however. For example, the Microsoft Store lets me Pre-order Call of Duty: WWII, Disneyland Adventures, and other games, but not as a gift for someone else. Which would be nice. (At least not obviously; it’s possible that gifting is further along in the purchase queue, I suppose. I bet not.)
Other new features available now to Alpha ring users include:
Add more to Home. A new “Add more” area at the bottom of the Home view in the new Dashboard lets you add different kinds of items as blocks to Home. (Are we not “pinning” anymore?) This now includes Clubs.
Improved Setup experience. Microsoft says it is improving the Setup experience for both new users and upgraders. “The settings from your home console will now be saved to the cloud, just like your game saves,” Beaumont writes. “Whenever you set up a new console, you will have the option of applying these saved settings during the sign-in process.” Nice.
More settings backed up. Related to the above feature, Xbox One now backs up even more settings than before, including your TV & OneGuide settings. These two features together will ease the transition from an older console to a new one. Because you know you want a new one.
Better Xbox app integration on mobile. The Xbox app for Android and iOS is also being updated to support the new backup and Setup functionality on the console: Now, you can finish setting up your new Xbox One X console while it’s still downloading the Day One update.
Screensaver notifications. The new Dashboard added an interesting screensaver feature which is a sort of overlay on the screen with the date and time. This is being expanded with at-a-glance status of much more information, including LFG posts, broadcasts, and Achievements.
Mini Game Hubs in the Guide. Your most-recently-played games will now display miniature Game Hubs right in the Guide so you can view game information without leaving the game you’re playing.
Passkey/challenge for purchases. Users who enable the “Buy & download” online safety setting will now have an easier time purchasing games thanks to a passkey/password challenge that is available right in the Dashboard.
Hide your failures. This one is kind of funny: Now you can hide games for which you’ve not earned any Achievements from your personal and public profile views. Now no one needs to see how terrible you are at gaming.
Presumably these features will make their way through the various Xbox Insider rings, and then to the public, over the next month or so.