Microsoft’s actions in 2014 have made it clear that media and convenient navigation are core parts of its agenda for the Xbox One — even if it has just named someone with years of game experience as the platform’s new boss.
Microsoft made a few new reveals today, all of which regard TV/movie watching features or new navigational functions. Most of them also have something to do with SmartGlass, Microsoft’s second-screen application for mobile devices.
Ben Smith from the Xbox TV team said in a video released today, “Our mission is to always make TV better on Xbox One.”
First, a “Rent Once, Play Anywhere” feature starts this week. When watching Xbox Video content, it will enable switching between Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and the Web at Xboxvideo.com. It will save your place in each movie/episode you watch.
One of SmartGlass’ new capabilities is navigating to the full list of achievements, challenges, and video clips for a game “without jumping through multiple screens.” It will also enable viewing people you’ve recently played with and let you send them a friend request or challenge them to a rematch. The Activity Feed view now matches the way it looks on Xbox consoles, and Xbox Live messaging alerts can now be sent to your mobile device. Also, SmartGlass can now launch an app in Snap, Microsoft’s multitasking interface that keeps apps running in the background until they are needed again.
The following features will be only available by invite, with a planned public release after testing is complete. Some European and Canadian Xbox Live members will see TV listings, Favorites, and Apps channels added to their Xbox One’s central OneGuide interface as well as Kinect voice commands that enable them to control their AV equipment. These features have already been available in the U.S. Finally, SmartGlass will get DVR integration, including the capability to schedule new recordings and watch recorded content.
The additions to SmartGlass make it quite versatile. “We really look at SmartGlass and think it is the ultimate remote,” Smith said.