Microsoft’s February Xbox One Update isn’t flashy. Users who download it aren’t getting any big new features that’ll instantly make it a better idea to purchase it instead of Sony’s PS4 gaming console. That being said, the company is delivering on one of the most asked for changes from everyday users and adding a new feature that gives Xbox Live more of a social feel. Starting with the February Xbox One Update the tiles that dominate the Xbox interface are transparent.
Microsoft announced the February Xbox One Update in a post on its Xbox Wire news blog last night. It’s now available for members of the Xbox One Preview Program. There’s plenty to like about the update beyond those transparent Live Tiles too.
Following the update, anyone who sets their Xbox One background to a photo will notice that their tiles are now transparent. Their true color still shines through, but there’s enough transparency to let users see more of the background picture they’ve selected. Backgrounds for the Xbox One dashboard was one of the most requested features on Microsoft’s Xbox Feedback website.
Microsoft added backgrounds last year, but tiles still needed to be large enough for people to see across a room or Kinect 2 sensor users to select with their hands. Unfortunately, users can’t set how much transparent tiles are manually. All tiles aren’t necessarily transparent either. Microsoft says that’s due to copyright issues and other agreements.
The updated tiles are going to get all the attention, but there’s another key feature in the February Xbox One Update. Recently, Microsoft has reposition Xbox Live is part gaming service, part social network. Game Hubs are the next step in that evolution. Every game for the Xbox One now has a dedicated Game Hub that’s accessible directly from the console itself. Game Hubs have some of what one might expect, for example game clips, add-ons and release information are all included.
Microsoft is also thrown in other things that make sense, for example users can follow specific games for updates on when users are playing. They can see which of their friends have already played a game and how long ago that was. VIPs for each game set to the far right. For Titanfall there are Xbox One owners getting attention for being a popular Titanfall broadcaster on Twitch or for sharing popular clips. It’s a brilliant move by Microsoft to highlight the Xbox One community more; the only thing disappointing about it is how you get to a Game Hub. Users need to press the menu button when a game is selected to find them or browse for them in the store. That’s a bit cumbersome.
For European users Microsoft has packed in some changes for the TV experience. The OneGuide weaves live television and video entertainment together in one menu. Now it’s available in the Netherlands. Xbox One owners in France, Germany, Brazil and Mexico will now see what shows are trending on Xbox Live in their areas too. Microsoft has also added Live TV compatibility for SmartGlass users abroad who have its digital TV tuner. This means they can watch live television on their Windows Phone or Android device directly from their TV. Unfortunately, this isn’t available in the United States.
The February Xbox One Update is now rolling out to Xbox One owners around the world who’ve signed up for the Xbox Preview Program. Users can manually update their console from the System area in the Settings app or simply leave their console connected to the internet for an automatic download. If Microsoft keeps to the schedule from last year, Xbox One owners who aren’t members of the Preview Program can expect the update sometime next month.