Forget the Apple TV, today Microsoft announced that its partners will launch 45 new apps for the Xbox One and Xbox 360, growing its catalog of content partners by 25% and giving users new reasons for picking up its console.
The company took to its Xbox Wire news blog to share information about the apps earlier today. According to Microsoft, users can expect the amount of apps available on the Xbox One and Xbox 360 to make huge strides over the next six months.
Users in the United States with an Xbox 360 can expect FXNow, KDrama, NHL, ShowTime Anytime, Sky News, Watch ABC, Watch Disney Channel, Watch Disney Junior and watch Disney XD to be available sometime this year.
These are important because it’s now the Xbox 360 that competes most closely with set-top boxes like the Apple TV. The Apple TV starts at $99 and gives users access to content they’ve purchased in the iTunes Music and Video Stores. By comparison the 4GB Xbox 360 costs $179.99 from the Microsoft Store.
Yes, that’s nearly double the Apple TV, but users also get a wider assortment of apps to use like the Verizon FiOS live streaming video app with the Xbox 360. Additionally, the Xbox 360 also allows users to play games on their television and watch play all the music, video they’ve purchased on their PC through Xbox Music and Xbox Video. Recently, Microsoft also ditched the pay wall that kept Xbox 360 users from downloading apps. Starting today, there’s no required Xbox Live Gold subscription for things like Netflix and Hulu Plus.
For those who want a premium next-generation experience Microsoft is adding some new entertainment apps to the Xbox One. In the United States that expanded line up of apps will include Comedy Central, Crunchyroll, ENCORE Play, EPIX, Frightflix, GoPro, HBO Go, iHeartRadio, KDrama, MLG, MOVIEPLEX Play, MTV, NBA, NHL, Popcornflix, Sky News, STARZ Play, Syfy Now, Target Ticket, TuneIn, USA Now, Vevo and VH1.
Though the entertainment apps are certainly interesting, Microsoft is also highlighting two upcoming social media apps for the Xbox One as well.
The first of these social media apps is Twitter. According to Microsoft, It’ll be integrating Twitter directly into the Xbox One’s OneGuide. Users will be able to see what shows their friends are talking about in real-time as well as check the hashtag for shows they’re watching directly through the OneGuide. Microsoft says “A commercial break [will turn] into a quick and easy opportunity to see what other viewers are tweeting about without pulling out your phone” with the integration. Presumably, users will be able to post status updates from this experience as well, but Microsoft didn’t confirm that so we’re left to wonder. The entire idea sounds a lot like what Microsoft tried to do with the Xbox 360 and Netflix Parties a few years ago. This app and the Vine video app that’ll allow users to watch their friend’s short clips won’t be available anywhere else but the Xbox One.
The Xbox One isn’t as competitively price against the Apple TV as the Xbox 360 is. It costs $499 today, but Microsoft is introducing a $399 model on June 9th. In addition to next generation gaming, the Xbox One also offers one extra neither the Apple TV nor the Xbox 360 has. Xbox One owners can pair their console with a cable box and watch live television directly through the console. If they do that, switching to a specific channel is as simple as saying “Xbox, Watch ABC Family.”
It’s also worth noting that the Xbox One no longer requires users to have an Xbox Live Gold subscription to use entertainment apps either.
Microsoft says that these new apps sound all launch by this holiday season.