The Xbox One August Update—previously referred to as the Summer Update—is now rolling out, delivering some new Windows 10 and Anniversary Update features to Microsoft’s flagship console.
Some has mistakenly referred to this update as “the Anniversary Update for Xbox One,” but that’s not true: As Microsoft told me a few months ago, it will deliver more Windows 10 and Anniversary Update functionality to Xbox One over the course of two updates, one scheduled for the summer (and now called the August Update) and one scheduled for Fall.
So while the Xbox One August Update is obviously tied to the release of the Anniversary Update on Windows 10, don’t be fooled: Some of its new features, like Cortana support, debuted in Windows 10 a year ago. These two product lines will likely never really match up, nor should they.
According to Microsoft, the August Update brings the Xbox One console up to build 10.0.14393.1018 (where Windows 10 on PCs is at 10.0.14393.5). And it adds the following new features:
Cortana. Available only in the U.S. and U.K., Cortana expands (but does not completely replace) the “Hey, Xbox” voice control functionality that debuted with the Xbox One in 2013. Now, you can say “Hey Cortana” or launch the Cortana app to begin interacting with Microsoft’s personal digital assistant from your HDTV. And if you have a Kinect, you can turn on the console by saying, “Hey Cortana, Xbox on.” (“Xbox on” presumably still works too.)
Background music. This eagerly-awaited new feature lets media apps—like Groove, when it’s updated—continue playing music in the background when you navigate away from the app. To play, pause, skip, and adjust music volume from anywhere, just double-tap the Xbox button to open Xbox Guide, choose Multitasking, an then select your music controls. Note that apps must explicitly support this feature. Right now, only the Pandora app (U.S. only) does, but more will be available soon.
My Games & Apps. The My Games & Apps experience has been updated with new sorting options, a Ready to Install area, an area for game and app updates, and a download queue. It’s also only one button press away: Just navigate right from the Home view.
Language & location settings. Now, Xbox One lets you configure your location separately from your system language. To do so, Double-press the Xbox button to open Xbox Guide and select Settings, All Settings, System, Language & Location.
Top PC games on Xbox Live. Microsoft will eventually present game hubs for the top 1000 PC games on Xbox Live so you can see what your friends are doing, even if they’re not playing an Xbox Live game. You can also share PC game clips and screenshots, message friends on Xbox Live, and join a party chat with your friends no matter what they’re doing.
Store app. For the first time, the Store experience on Xbox One is presented as a standalone app, and not part of the Dashboard. And that Store is integrated with the Windows Store from Windows 10, meaning that new UWP apps will start appearing on Xbox One. Customers in the U.S., Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Germany, and Finland can now use mobile operator billing to make purchases, Microsoft says. And customers in China can now use China Union Pay.
Find Facebook friends. Now, you can link your Facebook and Xbox Live accounts. To do so, launch Xbox Guide and navigate to Friends (tab), Friends, Suggestions and select Find Facebook friends.
Control automatic sharing. Microsoft says that you can now choose to automatically share your achievements, screenshots, and game clips to your activity feed. To change your sharing settings, navigate to Settings, Preferences, Activity Feed.
I’ll be writing a lot more about these new Xbox One features when I return home from my current travels. But if you have an Xbox One, you’ll get this update automatically, as always, and can begin enjoying a nicely refreshed user experience.