Microsoft Prepares Friendlier Xbox One Update

Next month, Microsoft is making it easier for Xbox One users to populate their friends lists and share their real identities to the world.

Xbox One

Microsoft is beefing up the Xbox One's community and social aspects with a new update that's slated for release next month.

Dubbed simply the March system update, available now for members of the company's early-access Xbox One preview program, it includes two new features aimed at helping users connect, compete and share their in-game activities, announced Larry Hryb, director of programming for Xbox Live. First things first: filling up those friends lists.

Friend suggestions, a staple of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, are coming to the console. "With the suggested friends feature, the Friends area in home and your friends list will help you find and add friends," wrote Hryb in a Feb. 18 blog post. "Suggested friends will include people you might know, so you add more friends to game with, and top community broadcasters and clip creators, so you can get more great content in your activity feed." A dedicated suggested friends page is being added to the Friends app, as well.

In an accompanying YouTube video, Richard Irving, a member of the Xbox engineering team, called the move "an effort to get you more people to play with on Xbox Live." The suggested friends features pulls likely candidates from Xbox Live members who may be following a user, recent in-game allies or adversaries, and notable community members.

Interestingly, the feature made its debut in an upcoming, highly-anticipated release from the company. Hryb noted during the video that "some sharp-eyed folks may recognize [that] this is very similar to the feature in the Xbox app in Windows 10."

Microsoft is also building on its real-name-sharing feature, enabling gamers to cast a wider net while searching for friends on Xbox Live. "This month in preview, we're rolling out two new ways to share your real name, with all of your friends or to everyone in the Xbox Live community," stated Hryb. Previously, users could only share their real names with friends. Users can still opt to be identified solely by their Gamertags.

Another highly requested feature, one that has been available for Sony's rival PlayStation 4 console since day one, is also arriving next month. After applying the March update, Xbox One gamers can finally capture screenshots.

"While playing a game, you can now take screenshots on your Xbox One console by simply double-tapping the Xbox button on your controller to capture a screenshot and pressing Y to save the screenshot," instructed Hryb. "You can also say 'Xbox Take a Screenshot' to take and save a screenshot," provided that the optional Kinect motion controller is connected to the console.

An updated Upload app will help users share, organize or set their screenshots as the home screen's background (the preview build has sharing disabled). Rounding out the new features are new tile transparency settings, an option to share voice search data with Microsoft, spam reporting and Xbox Digital TV Tuner support for users in Australia.

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...