The Xbox One has a ton of abilities.
You can plug your cable TV box right into it and control television. You can play bleeding-edge blockbuster games on it. You can watch Netflix and HBO and whatever other streaming service you can think of, directly from the Xbox One. It’s a cable-TV box and a set-top box and a game console, all at once.
But, in the case of the Xbox One, with great power comes great sluggishness.
To put it nicely, the Xbox One feels muddy and old in general practice — navigating through menus, or even just moving around the console’s home screen, feels like a chore. Microsoft says that’s all about to change in the next major update to the Xbox One’s software.
Here’s everything we know about the next major update to the Xbox One, which arrives this fall.
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The most obvious update is visual: The Home page of your Xbox One is going to look really, really different.
Gone are the dozens of individual boxes and advertisements and sub-menus and whatever other madness has defiled the Home page of the Xbox One since 2013.
In a move toward austerity, the new Xbox One Home dashboard screen is entirely customisable. In its default format, it contains a list of your most recently used stuff, a link to this month's 'Games with Gold,' and a direct link to whatever you were last playing. There's also a 'suggested friend' box now, and a quick accessibility box for re-mapping gamepad layouts.
There are also two advertisement boxes, because of course there is, but at least one's for something you might actually want (it's based on your usage history).
The next step of the revamp is a concept called 'Content Blocks.' It enables you to extend your Home screen without cluttering it up.
Perhaps you want your Home screen to house all of your 'pinned' applications/games in one place? Or maybe you want a bunch of 'Overwatch' content front and center?
With 'Content Blocks,' you can create a custom 'Block' of whatever you want. Scrolling down from the main screen, you'll find whatever 'Blocks' you created. Alternatively, you don't have to do any of that.
'If you're a minimalist, you can have your Home and that's it,' said Microsoft's Mike Ybarra of Content Blocks. 'Or your Home and your Pins, and that's your entire gaming service.'
The third and final major addition comes in the form of usability: The 'Quick Menu,' accessed by pushing the Xbox button on the gamepad, is seemingly much quicker to navigate.
In addition to these updates, which will roll out to all users at some point 'this fall' and are already available to some users in the Xbox One Preview Program, the Xbox One now has Spotify.
You can use Spotify for free on Xbox One and you'll get the same ad-supported experience available elsewhere. You can also use it with paid Spotify subscriptions to get music streaming without ads. It's available right now, separately from the upcoming update, as an application in the Xbox Store.