This past Friday Microsoft teased what could be the most requested feature to arrive for its Xbox One console yet. For months, owners of Sony’s PS4 have been the only console gamers to share screenshots taken directly from their games. That’s about to change.
On Friday Microsoft’s Phil Spencer posted himself capturing a screenshot on the Xbox One. When it’s released, the feature should do exactly what its name sounds like, users will be able to take pictures of what’s going on in their games, and presumably, they’ll be able to share them over Xbox Live.
That might sound like a small feature addition, but it’s one thousands of Xbox One owners have said they want on Xbox Feedback. Xbox Feedback is the site that Microsoft uses to let gamers speak their mind about which features the company should improve on or add next. Anyone with a Microsoft Account can vote on features posted by others or add their own. The company said that it uses the site to pick through great ideas and improve the Xbox One on a regular basis. It introduced the site shortly after last year’s E3 event.
Spencer, who heads the Xbox team, doesn’t give an estimated time of arrival for screenshots on the Xbox One. His picture of the feature merely confirms that Microsoft finally has the feature in its pipeline. In fact, Spencer confirms in another message on his Twitter account that the company only has screenshots working on Xbox One development kits. These are special Xbox Ones equipped with software for developers and testers.
Typically, Microsoft makes features available to members of its Xbox Preview Program roughly a month before they arrive for everyone else. The last time Xbox Preview Program members received an update was January, ahead of the February Xbox One update that rolled out last week. Microsoft hasn’t said anything about a preview of a possible March Xbox One update. It’s possible that Microsoft has plans to let users try the feature in that preview. Of course, it’s also possible that the feature is far away from release.
Today, PS4 owners can stick a USB flash drive into their console and save screenshots to share with their friends or post online. The feature is of particular interest to independent video game developers and video game journalists, who want to share what they’re seeing on their console exactly as it seems. Since there’s no way to capture a screenshot built into the Xbox One’s software, users who want them have to purchase separate hardware that lets them do this. The ironic thing is that, Microsoft’s Xbox One already allows users to record video clips and share them over Xbox Live and the web. Why it took so long to just let users capture stills is unclear.
Since releasing the Xbox One in 2013, Microsoft has used a series of price cuts and feature updates to pivot quickly. The Xbox One launched with a version of Xbox Live that included a few new features, but worked mostly like Xbox Live for the Xbox 360. Today, Xbox Live is part free gaming service and a fledging social network. Microsoft killed off earlier requires that forced users to subscribe to Xbox Live for entertainment apps. Then it launched an Activity Feed, Game Hubs and message sharing for all Xbox Live users. All of these things are linked directly into the Xbox SmartGlass companion app for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone. Microsoft has added other features too, like external hard drive support and manual game management.
The Xbox One is available on store shelves now for $349 without a Kinect 2 sensor and $449 with a Kinect 2 sensor. It looks like users without a Kinect 2 sensor will have to double tap the Xbox button on their controller to take a screenshot. Whether users with a Kinect 2 sensor will be able to give a voice command remains unclear.