Microsoft is rolling out a new Xbox One update within the next few days that expands upon one of the device's hallmark features, Snap.
Xbox Live Director of Programming Larry Hryb announced in a brief Xbox Wire post that the company is in the midst of issuing the update (version 6.2.11274.0) this week. The update includes a couple of improvements to the console's Snap functionality, giving users added flexibility in invoking and using the on-screen multi-tasking feature.
Snap allows Xbox One owners to essentially parcel out their screens for two different activities. By uttering "Xbox, snap ..." (systems that include Kinect) or using a sequence of controller actions, users can stream a movie while devoting a section of the screen to the Internet Explorer or Skype apps.
With the July update, Microsoft is making it easier for users, particularly those with the new Kinect-less game console, to manage their snapped apps. On June 9, the company began offering a version of the Xbox One without the Kinect sensor for $399, a savings of $100 compared to the previous bundle.
Post-update, double tapping the Xbox button will immediately call up the Snap Center without booting users from their current activity. "If you already have an app snapped, double-tap quickly switches between your game and the snapped app," explained Hryb in a statement.
The update also brings a new Snap experience to Achievements, the Xbox platform's virtual trophy case.
Microsoft is "offering an easier way to track and view your achievements in the moment" with Snap Mode for Achievements, Hryb said. Gamers can now track their feats in real time without leaving their game, he added. A new "Get Help" feature prompts the system to "scan the Web for you and deliver relevant tips and strategy content right to your TV."
Game DVR clips are getting a little more social. Users can "Like" snippets of captured game footage and activity feed items in SmartGlass, the companion mobile app for iOS, Android, Windows and Windows Phone. SmartGlass provides remote control functionality along with "second screen" experiences on smartphones and tablets.
Additionally, Microsoft revealed that the company is exploring new ways of packaging Xbox One content online and in retail. The update includes "functionality for content publishers to create digital bundle and disk compilation offerings in the future," stated a support document.
The system's Blu-ray player gets some attention in the form of some general improvements. It also gains the ability to read recordable BD-R/BD-RE disks.
Finally, users can select their preferred spoken language to help improve the Xbox One's voice recognition and add another level of granularity to the device's region-based features. "For example, someone living in the United States who has an Australian accent may now choose English (Australia) for voice control while still having United States selected for country location," stated Microsoft.