New Xbox One Update Brings Backgrounds & More

A new software update for the Xbox One is coming and after months of users requesting it, Microsoft says it’s added the ability for users to assign images and colors as their Start Screen background.

Microsoft announced the new background customization options among other things, in an update on its Xbox Wire news blog late last night. It then began deploying the update to members of the Xbox One Preview Program.


Ever since Microsoft first showed off the Xbox One software, users have clamored for a way to change the black space behind the tiles that represent each app. This feature was missing despite similar user interfaces for the Xbox 360 and devices running Windows and Windows Phone. Unfortunately, users won’t be able to choose their own pictures from a hard drive or flash drive yet, though art work from achievements does work. Microsoft says it has plans to support more backgrounds in the future.

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Of late Microsoft has angled Xbox Live as a social network or at least an easy way to communicate with friends who happen to be gamers. Location information is now sharable to other Xbox Live users. The company has also added a way for users to draw more attention to the recorded clips and achievements that they’re proud of. Options for choosing which achievements and clips are profiled are available on the Xbox One itself and Xbox One SmartGlass. Microsoft didn’t say if it has plans to make these options available on the Xbox website too. Twitter sharing of video clips is now available too.


A few months ago Microsoft revealed a new TV Tuner accessory and upgraded SmartGlass app that allows Xbox One owners in Europe to stream live television across their home network and onto a device equipped with Xbox SmartGlass. The last update for the Xbox One included that feature, but the November Xbox One Update builds on top of it with support for trend tracking using Twitter and Xbox Live. Microsoft will monitor the channels that some users are watching and those that are being talked about online, then surface them in the Trending area in the Xbox One OneGuide. The OneGuide will now feature custom hashtags for different shows in its listings too. All of this Twitter integration will be available to users in the United States only initially.


Finally, Microsoft is making some big changes to Xbox One SmartGlass, the companion app that it lets users connect with Xbox Live on their iPhone, Android or Windows device. Tracking what games friends are playing is now possible and there’s a new section for downloading apps apps directly to the console. Microsoft has also added sections for quickly identifying what deals and free games are available directly from the app.

All told, this new Xbox One Update packs a lot of changes. It may have started off slow, but the Xbox One Preview Program has proved invaluable in helping improve Microsoft’s relationship with gamers. The changes the company has introduced in these monthly updates have made the Xbox One almost feel as if it’s a different console. Past updates have added the ability to use external hard drives to save games and apps, easy video sharing, the MiniGuide for television and more. That users were able to have some input on what features Microsoft should introduce first is the real kicker.

All users won’t be able to get the November Xbox One Update just yet. Microsoft, is only rolling out the update to members of its Xbox One Preview Program for testing and evaluation. Should users not find any issues with the update normal users will get the update sometime during the month of November – maybe before the Thanksgiving holiday.

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The Xbox One is on store shelves now for $399 for a model without a Kinect 2 sensor and $499 for a model with a Kinect 2 sensor.