It’s taken three-and-a-half years, but Microsoft is finally getting the Xbox One’s interface right.
The company is testing a major update for the Xbox One right now that will introduce a number of important new features that Microsoft engineers designed to improve the responsiveness of the console’s interface. Most notably, this update introduces a quick menu that rolls out from the left whenever you hit the Xbox button. From this bar, you can access everything on your Xbox One without having the Home menu minimize your game and take over the entire screen. This update also features Beam broadcasting, which is something I’ll look at further soon.
Xbox One’s new quick bar isn’t just about screen real estate. Microsoft wants to give you more information in a more efficient way. You no longer need to open a separate app to look at achievements because the quickbar has that built right in as an option. You’ll also have instant access to managing your friends list, your multiplayer party, and your clubs. You can still get to your recent apps and your pins from the quick bar, but you can also quickly jump to the main hubs of the Xbox One. The first three buttons on this menu will take you to the Home screen, to the Store, or to My Games & Apps. By surfacing these options in a more central location, Microsoft is likely helping people who don’t regularly use the Xbox One navigate it in a more reliable way.
But while all of the changes to the organization of the interface are great, this update is really about speed. Microsoft has peeled out whatever underlying crap was gunking up the Xbox One for this update, and it has made the quick bar far speedier than the previous interface. Jumping from a game to the menu system is now reliably fast, and I didn’t have to wait for loading to do a basic task like checking the achievements. Loading up some other apps did still take some time, but everything I use frequently worked better than it has in the past. Video apps load up without an issue, games load into memory without a hitch, and getting into important system functions like settings was quick as well. If Microsoft can avoid gunking things back up with future updates, then yeah, I think it has finally fixed the Xbox One.