Xbox One September Update Finally 'Dis-Kinects'

Microsoft improves the Xbox One's multitasking capabilities now that buyers are no longer forced to buy the Kinect voice and motion controller.

Xbox One without Kinect

Following up the Xbox One's August update, which came loaded with social features, Microsoft is making it easier for users that have purchased the Kinect-less version of the console to explore its multitasking capabilities.

In a late Sept. 8 Xbox Wire post, Larry Hryb (Major Nelson), director of programming for Xbox Live, said that September "is a big month for Xbox One" as Microsoft prepares to release features that owners have been clamoring for, including improved access to media. Members who are part of the company's preview program can download the update now while the general public waits for a release "over the next week or so," he said.

A new, controller-optimized Snap experience enables users to multitask without uttering commands to the Xbox One, which is an exercise in futility with the base version of the games machine.

"We've updated the Snap Center to include quick access to many of the things our fans wanted faster access to when playing a game—Friends, Messages, Game DVR, clock and battery indicator—as well as making it easier to close and open new snap apps when playing a game," Hryb wrote. A simple double tap of the Xbox button now brings up a menu that lets users manage their "snapped" apps.

To capitalize on the new functionality, Microsoft has updated two apps, Friends and Messages. The Friends app offers access to the friends list without interrupting a game while the Messages app allows users to read and respond to messages in a new threaded conversation view.

Microsoft's virtual trophy case, the Achievements App, has been revamped "to enable sharing of achievements you've unlocked with captions, see a list of friends who have unlocked specific achievements, and an updated achievements Snap landing page that that shows Achievements on recently played games, when a user is not actively playing a game," Hryb wrote. The updated Friends section, which has been available to preview members for a few weeks and features a Gamerscore leaderboard, is set to go live in this patch.

On the multimedia front, the Xbox One Media Player now supports Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) streaming and the Matroska open media container (MKV). A new Live TV trending tab on the Xbox One's guide "displays the top 10 most watched TV shows, with the list filtered down to the shows that are currently available to you based on your OneGuide settings," said Hryb.

The update also includes support for the USB-attached TV Tuner that enables "users to watch TV on Xbox One, and pause Live TV for up to 30 minutes," he said. The Xbox One Digital TV Tuner goes on sale in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain on Oct. 21. As a perk, users can stream live TV to smartphones and tablets running the companion SmartGlass app for iOS, Android and Windows.

A new Devices & Accessories page allows users to "more easily 'assign' accessories to specific users, such as assigning a headset to a specific gamer," said Hryb. Rounding out the new capabilities are new firmware update options and the ability to hide games and apps.

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...