Bing Voice-Enabled Web Search Hits the Xbox One

Expanding on its efforts to build Bing into a service layer, Microsoft issues an update that allows Xbox One users to search the Web from their couches.

XBox One

Xbox One users will no longer have to reach over for their tablets during their gameplay or Netflix binging sessions if they want to look something up online.

Microsoft announced that the video game and content streaming system can now search Web results as part of new Xbox One March Update. "Now, any time you search with 'Xbox Bing,' you will receive results from our expansive marketplace as well as relevant items from the Web," said the company in a statement.

Users of the Xbox One's Internet Explorer (IE) app also get a new search option. "And when using Internet Explorer, you can now highlight text on the Web page then press the menu button to engage Bing search," added Microsoft. Other IE-related improvements include direct links to the browser app for related results and new controller- and gesture-based pan-and-zoom capabilities that make viewing Bing and Google maps more intuitive.

The features are part of a batch of updates that Microsoft is rolling out ahead of "Titanfall," a highly anticipated multi-player video game.

Last month, with the February Update, the company tackled the device's lack of storage management capabilities. "With this update, you will find it easy to find how much space your content takes up and better manage your content," Marc Whitten, Xbox chief product officer, said in a statement detailing the new storage features.

This week, the company released the "second, and most significant, system update for Xbox One," said Whitten in a March 4 blog post. After downloading and installing the update, users will notice that their friends lists are more prominently displayed on the social tile.

In keeping with the social theme, the Xbox One now displays a list of Recent Players. "This is a simple list that shows you Xbox Live members you've recently played with, making it easier to stay in touch with people, add new friends after your multiplayer sessions, or report a player for bad behavior," explained Microsoft.

Users can now chat with friends across different games via the party chat option. Multi-player titles now have an "invite friends to game" option similar to the Xbox 360. The March Update sets the groundwork for live streaming Xbox One games on the Twitch app in time for the "Titanfall" launch March 11.

Finally, the update includes audio and video tweaks, including Dolby Digital 5.1 support over High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) and optical output. Microsoft has added support for 50Hz output to Xbox One, "fixing the frame rate issues some users in Europe have been experiencing while watching live TV" on the device, stated the company.

Whitten indicated that his company is not done on the storage front. "We know external hard-drive storage is another big one on your list. It's on our list, too. We're working on that for a future update and will keep you posted," he said.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...