Microsoft Preps a More Social Xbox One August Update

In what has become a pattern of monthly updates, Microsoft's Xbox One will soon gain more features that blur the line between Xbox Live and a social network.

Xbox One social features

Xbox One has caught the social media bug.

Microsoft revealed that the company is gearing up to release new social features for the company's Xbox One video game and media streaming console. While the company's Xbox division has long provided users with community-driven experiences, the company has been particularly bulking up the platform's social features of late.

Larry Hryb (a.k.a. Major Nelson), Xbox Live director of programming, said in a company blog post that Microsoft is working to "improve a number of social features to make sharing your gaming experiences with friends better and easier." Those features include a vastly enhanced activity feed.

Post-update, the Xbox One activity feed "will change to a single column scrolling list that is longer and includes more content," stated Hryb. Microsoft is also opening the floodgates on sharable content. "You can share game clips and anything else in the feed with friends either publicly (to your activity feed) or privately (as an attachment to a message)."

Facebook-like personal profiles will allow users to keep tabs on their friends. As always, privacy options will allow users to determine who can view their details. New notifications will add a real-time element to status updates and comments.

Users of SmartGlass, the Xbox One mobile companion app, will be able to view their activity feeds and "like" specific updates. Hryb teased that "activity feed support [will be] coming in future SmartGlass updates." On the home screen, a revamped Friends area will provide updates on top trending games. A new leaderboard will rank friends by their Gamerscore.

Some Xbox One owners will get an early peek at the new features before they're widely released, he said. "We're doing an extended preview on this, rolling it into the early access preview this month to a subset of our preview audience so we can refine it until it's ready for the entire Xbox One market."

SmartGlass will be updated to support mobile purchases of games and add-on content, among the "the most requested features," said Hryb. Consoles set to automatically apply updates will immediately begin downloading purchases in the background.

Other features include 3D Blu-ray playback support and the ability to turn off notifications during video playback. A new low battery notification will help gamers avoid the frustration of having their controllers lose power mid-game.

And there are growing numbers of Xbox One gamers, according to Microsoft. In a July 16 announcement, the company said it had "seen sales of Xbox One more than double in the US, compared to sales in May," after launching a cheaper, Kinect-less version of the device on June 9. Microsoft did not supply specific sales figures, however.

Sales may further pick up as the company prepares for the release the console in more regions. Microsoft is "getting ready to ship in 29 new markets starting this September," stated Hryb.

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...