Looking at the New Dashboard – First Impressions

Filed under Features

The new Xbox Dashboard update is set to release on the 6th of December 2011(tomorrow) and its the most ambitious Xbox 360 Dashboard update in the six-year-old console’s life to date, and I was lucky enough to be part of the preview program to test and look at the new features.

The new update is a complete refresh for the user interface and brings the experience in line with the styling of the company’s Windows Phone 7 operating system, and the front end of the forthcoming Windows 8. Adopting the new Metro-style interface, offering a tiled aesthetic, and splits content categories into tabs that run across the top of the screen.

New new to this update are entire categories for Social, Apps, TV and the standout new feature, Bing. The latter brings about a new way to search for content, whether it be a movie, game or music video and it can be accessed or controlled via the joypad or, as we experienced, Kinect using voice commands.

It’s not a fully functioning version of the Bing in-browser search engine, and technically can only find content that’s available to play, download or stream on or to your Xbox 360, but it is revolutionary in the way that you can access it all vioa voice command.

If you have a Kinect plugged into your console, all you have to do is say “Xbox. Bing. Search…” and choose a term. You can search for common titles, actors names and directors, and half the fun is finding out what works and what doesn’t. The Kinect certainly recognises a hell of a lot of vocal commands, and can now be used throughout the new Dashboard experience too not just in-game on some titles or in the Kinect specific dashboard, the same is true for the hand gesturing/motion control.

The other major additions to this update come in the form of the new content partners. Along with new zones and an easier to understand menu structure, come video apps for Lovefilm, 4OD, blinkbox, Demand 5, YouTube, Dailymotion and MSN. And, unlike on rival platforms, Microsoft made clever move in getting them to ditch their own front ends and user interfaces in favor of the Metro approach.

Although most of these will not be available for South African users there are a few that will be working for South African users and they are working well, i used the Youtube App and was pleasantly surprised at how well it works compared to other Youtube integrated app devices and programs.

There are plans to release around 15 more applications before the end of 2011, and there is also a healthy roadmap for the introduction of many more throughout the coming year each month.

There will be a lot of Social apps coming and although there’s no word at present on Skype integration. Twitter and Facebook are already present as it was before.

There are also new features for social gaming, such as beacons for friends who are not online. As soon as they log in, that beacon will ask them to join you in a game. Plus, as Gamertag information will be stored in the cloud from now on, rather than locally, you can even log into your account from a different Xbox 360, and play as yourself rather than a guest, with all your achievements and information accessible. But lookout for more on that in another dashboard review from me.

At this juncture, it’s worth pointing out that some of these new services are only available to Xbox Live Gold members. Silver members still get the new look, the search functionality, and voice and gesture control through a Kinect, but will not be able to access a vast amount of the content.

I must say that i am truly excited about the new dashboard and where it is going with more social integration and the voice and gesturing.

What are your thoughts on this and what are you most looking forward too?

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • connotea
  • Diigo
  • laaik.it
  • N4G
  • NewsVine
  • Plurk
  • Posterous
  • RSS
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • email
  • FriendFeed
  • HelloTxt
  • Ping.fm
  • Reddit
  • Slashdot

One Response to Looking at the New Dashboard – First Impressions

  1. Guest

    Hey, Gotta agree that the new dashboard is cool but there is no Youtbe app available.
    I've searched all over but even the marketplace says no apps available.
    I'm a Gold member so can't figure what the problem is.