Before Microsoft changed its marketing message the Xbox One, its latest video game console, was going to be an all-in-one entertainment experience. Microsoft is no longer talking about many of the entertainment benefits associated with having an Xbox One, but that doesn’t mean that many of them aren’t still there like the ability to play a video game and watch TV on the Xbox One at the same time.
This functionality is built on top of what Microsoft calls App Snapping. It’s a feature borrowed from its Windows 8 tablets, desktops, laptops and 2-in-1s. When things work, it’s pretty simple. App snapping divides the television screen into two separate areas. One area is about 70% of the screen and is where you want to put your primary focus if you’re playing a game or browsing the Xbox Store. Another app takes over the other 30%. Unlike with Windows 8, app snapping on the Xbox One isn’t something you can manipulate – for example, snapped apps can’t be moved to the left edge of the screen.
App snapping is incredibly useful. In fact, in some cases it’s absolutely required if you’d like to do two things on the console at once – like listen to music and play a game at the same time. Here’s how to play a game and watch TV on the Xbox One, or really open two separate apps on the Xbox One for a bit of multitasking.
Before we begin, you will need to have configured the television app for it to actually show any kind of video content. That’s not covered in this tutorial, but GottaBeMobile has covered it before.
With a Controller
First, press the power button on your Xbox One to turn on your console. You can also press the Xbox logo on your Xbox One wireless controller or say, “Xbox, On” if you have a Kinect 2 sensor. You’ll want to sign in if the console doesn’t automatically recognize you or if you have more than one Xbox Live Account set up to interact with the device.
There’s lots of small different, ways that you can snap an app. First, let’s go through the process with the controller. On the home screen there’s a tile just above My Games & Apps labeled Snap. Use the joystick on your Xbox One wireless controller and the A button to select it.
Immediately, you’re taken to the Snap menu and the list and the My Games & Apps Area. By default your cursor will only appear on the right of the screen in the Snap menu for now. That’s ok, select the app that you’d like to snap from the list of apps available to you. For this example, we’re going to snap the TV app to the side of our screen.
Now press the glowing white button on your controller to go back to the Home screen on your Xbox One. Don’t worry, this won’t close the app you just selected. Back at the Home screen you’ll notice a new white selector that’s currently highlighting just one side of your screen. Move the joystick on your controller over once so that it highlights the other 70%. Now press the A button on your controller.
You’ll notice that you can now move around freely in the list of installed apps and games. Go ahead and select the game that you’d like to have take up that larger portion of your screen. To be clear, you can have other apps take over this portion of the screen too.
Like nearly every other thing available on the Xbox One, Snapping apps is made easier by the Kinect 2 sensor. For those that have it connected to their console, snapping apps is as simple as a few voice commands.
First hold your right or left hand up and use the gestures to select the app or game that you’d like to take over the larger portion of your screen. You can also just say the name of whatever app or game you want to open. For this example, we’re using Titanfall so we used this command, “Xbox, go to Titanfall.”
Titanfall is now open and ready to be played. Now say, “Xbox, Snap TV.” Remember to substitute TV for the name of any app you’d like to snap to the side of your screen. You can say just, “Xbox, Snap” to get a list of the apps available for you to multitask with.
Say, “Xbox, Switch” to move between the two different panes on your screen.
Many of the Xbox One’s most used apps can be snapped. That being said, the same doesn’t work for games. You can’t snap a game and have it take up that 30% space on your screen. When a game is it open it’s always going to take up the larger part of your screen. Despite Microsoft’s insistence that snapped apps don’t effect the performance of games, one single app does: Xbox Music. Every other app works just fine, but Xbox Music will slow your Xbox One down if you’re streaming using Microsoft’s Music Pass service.