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Custom themes and screenshot support coming to Xbox One

Xbox One continues to evolve as Phil Spencer ensures more customization features are being "worked on."
Xbox One continues to evolve as Phil Spencer ensures more customization features are being “worked on.”

Phil Spencer revealed in a Podcast with the Inner Circle Podcast that the Xbox One will soon be gaining more personalization options with custom backgrounds and entire themes.

A screenshot feature to complement the “Xbox record that” functionality is also coming as well.

Now, no specific date is set for the additions, but these highly requested features are now confirmed to be in the works by Microsoft staff and it’s reasonable to expect them to emerge on the console in the coming months.

The Xbox One has consistently been gaining more and more features since the release of the console nearly a year ago. Microsoft’s implementation of the Xbox Feedback system has shown ample community support and has helped reinvigorate the console’s public perception after a struggling initial launch.

Check out the podcast below!

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How to improve UI loading speeds on your Xbox One

If you struggle with slow loading times anywhere in the Xbox One UI, this switch may be just what you need.
If you struggle with slow loading times anywhere in the Xbox One UI, this switch may be just what you need.

For those of you have struggled with slow loading for apps and games on the Xbox One, one small fix may be the answer to your woes.

For some Xbox One users, slow loading times and average-below average internet connections can hinder the fluid experience the Xbox One’s interface is supposed to be.

If you’re having issues a switch to the Google DNS servers may show some dramatic improvements. Just manually enter the free public Google DNS server address (8.8.8.8) into the advanced -network settings.

Why does it work? “Name resolution. When you go to www.pixelpine.com your DNS servers are asking for which IP (the X.X.X.X number) from other servers. Some may have it locally cache others may have to search for it. If they know what it is with it cached it brings you there quicker. If it doesn’t, it has to ask another server and it takes longer to resolve.” – Alligatorterror

Here’s a break down of how to do it:

From the home screen -> Settings -> Network -> Advanced settings -> DNS settings ->manual

Once at the manual DNS entry page, input 8.8.8.8 as your primary DNS, and 8.8.4.4 as your seconday DNS.

After doing so you will likely notice a significant improvement in loading times for various apps and menus across the UI.

In my own tests after having my friends list take eight seconds to load with the automatic (ISP) DNS servers, my loading time dropped to less than three seconds.

Results may vary for others, and if you see your automatic DNS servers doing a quicker job loading the interface, by all means switch back.

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Starting tomorrow, get a free game with any Xbox One

Microsoft continues their promotional efforts with more game add-ons to all available consoles.
Microsoft continues their promotional efforts with more game add-ons to all available consoles.

For those planning on buying an Xbox One console right now, they have picked a good time to do so. Microsoft will be giving an additional game of the buyer’s choice to their new console purchase.

All consoles currently available will be eligible for the deal, whether it has a game already bundled or not is irrelevant.

Any new disc-based Xbox One game (up to $59.99) will be available to choose as part of Microsoft’s promotional offering (Yes, even Destiny) that will be running September 7th-13th.

September Promotion
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Xbox One September update is out now

Xbox One consistently receives updates from Microsoft and some significant changes are now here for the console.
Xbox One consistently receives updates from Microsoft and some significant changes are now here for the console.

It seems Microsoft lost track of time in a very good way for Xbox One owners. The new September update comes with a few days still remaining in August.

Microsoft has shown an incredible amount of support and activity with regards to software and interface-related changes for the Xbox One. A variety of key features are now available to everyone with media features being the focus in this update.

You’ll now be able to boot straight to TV from standby mode on the console — a highly requested feature to be incorporated in the Xbox One experience. Also now available is a TV mini-guide that will display the currently-tuned-in channel’s information and gives users the ability to change channels without interrupting what is currently playing with a large intrusive overlay.

For those who would like to play their own movie/tv-show collection, the Xbox Media app is finally available with more than 20 file formats compatible right now. As soon as a USB drive is connected a prompt will display to download the Media app right away.

Party hosts are given more control with the ability to remove people from their party and require an invitation to join.
Party hosts are given more control with the ability to remove people from their party and require an invitation to join.

The most notable non-media related features that players who utilizes the Xbox Smartglass app will see are the new threaded messages and the improved activity feed. Those who download the free app are now able to post status updates and share items on their feed.

The social experience will continue to grow on the Xbox One as players await for the new “friends tab” on the home screen that will provide easy access to your friends list and their activites as well as the leaderboards for games played. Players will have to wait at least one more month for the improved friends interface to arrive.

Full list of new features below:

  • Boot to TV – Users now have the option to have the TV start  as soon as the console is turned on from standby.
  • Mini guide – Currently the One Guide takes up nearly the entire screen, but the new mini guide displays show information and give users the ability to change channels without interrupting what is currently playing.
  • Improved party chat – Kicking players from the party and an option for whether the party requires an invite or not are included as well.
  • Media App – Just plug-in your own USB 2.o or 3.0 external hard drive to play your own movies, TV shows, music, and personal videos with dozens of file formats supported and more to come later this year.
  • Updated Smartglass – Post status updates, share items, and comment on videos with the improved Xbox app. The message system gets rehauled as well with threaded messages finally available to allow easy viewing of conversation history.
  • More region compatibility – The OneGuide is now accesible to Xbox One gamers in Brazil, Mexico, Austria, and Ireland. The “Xbox On” kinect command is now available for Australia, Canada (French), Italy, Spain, and Mexico.
  • Bandwidth – Monitor your console’s internet speeds and history. Gamer’s can also cap their data usage at their desired amount.
  • Delete multiple clips – Where it had previously allowed you to only delete one recorded game-clip at a time, the Upload app has been updated to allow users to delete multiple clips at once.
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Halo 5 Guardians – New trailer

Guardians will have a lot of expectations, but 343i is prepared to surpass them.
Guardians will have a lot of expectations, but 343i is prepared to surpass them.

343i is looking to their past experience with Bungie to ensure a high-quality next-gen Halo for fans to enjoy.

Halo 2 was known for its incredible competitive multiplayer and their execution of a well balanced online-arena experience.  Halo 5 guardians looks to bring that back with an identical ranking system and the decision to forgo loadouts for your spartan.

With 4v4 team modes and seven maps included, veteran Halo fans should be very optimisitic with the direction that 343 Industries is heading with Guardians’ multiplayer.

The beta, available to those who purchase the Master Chief Collection, is due December 29 and will run until January 18.

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New Xbox One bundles announced | White console with Sunset Overdrive; 1 TB console with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

The white Xbox One -- available with Sunset Overdrive later this year.
The white Xbox One — available with Sunset Overdrive later this year.

Microsoft diversifies console options with new bundles and more style varieties.

  • Sunset Overdrive – The rumor has been confirmed — a white Xbox One console will be coming later this year and will include Sunset Overdrive for $399 (No kinect).
  • Fifa 15 – Microsoft has struggled with markets outside the U.S. but a new Fifa bundle should help them gain some ground in the EU. The bundle will retail for €399 and will include a digital Fifa 15.
  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – A 1 TB Call of Duty bundle will include a custom design console and controller, as well as a digital copy of Advanced Warfare – Day 0 edition.

  • Madden 15 – It was announced before Gamescom, but it’s still two weeks until it will be released. A Madden 15 $399 bundle will be available the same day as Madden 15’s release — August 26th.

None of the bundles listed here will include the kinect, but Microsoft will be selling a standalone Kinect just in time for the holiday season.

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Microsoft converging Windows platforms with universal development tools | Xbox App library to expand

Xbox can be expected to get a much larger selection of applications as Windows unites app development
Xbox can be expected to get a much larger selection of applications as Microsoft unites Windows app development

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, promised great changes to the company as a whole and his “power of the cloud” aspirations combined with the new head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, ensures greatness to come in the world of cloud gaming for Xbox.

Nadella has hinted that this would become a reality for a while with universal Windows development tools that connected Windows PCs, Windows phones, and the Xbox One back in April. With all platforms running on the same architecture and Microsoft treating them all as one operating system, application development should be a much smoother process.

“We will streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes,” Nadella said in a developer conference.

The plan for Microsoft is to expand their app library for all platforms will be good news for Xbox owners and Windows platform supporters overall as Windows currently lacks a diverse selection of third party applications.

While the new attitude to converge all Windows platforms is exciting, don’t expect it to really impact the Xbox One right away. Nadella stated convergence won’t be starting until the release of the next Windows operating system, Windows 9.

While the Xbox library is certain to grow application wise, it will be interesting to see how games translate with the tools. Could there be more Windows phones apps to transfer over to Xbox One now as well? The console currently has Halo: Spartan Assault which originated on Windows Phones/ Windows PCs. This could hint that more mobile-formatted games — not just applications — could carryover in the future.


For more news and updates

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Despite Xbox One’s soaring June sales, PS4 still top dog

The console wars between Xbox One and PS4 are starting to heat up. (Photo/IGN.com)
The console wars between Xbox One and PS4 are starting to heat up.

PS4 still top-selling console in US, despite strong June sales for Xbox One

 

Microsoft knew exactly what it was doing when it decided to remove the Kinect from Xbox One packages. And it has worked — for the most part. Sales have doubled for the next-gen console, after an impressive showing at E3 2014, which honed in on a specific direction: gaming.

But Sony let out a loud cough Friday in response to Microsoft’s announcement 24 hours earlier, when it took to Twitter to boast PS4’s sixth straight month on top of console sales charts, according to the June NPD report.

Vice president of PlayStation Marketing, Guy Longworth, also added the following comments, further reigning on Microsoft’s sales parade.

  • PlayStation 4 was #1 in sales for the sixth consecutive month and remains the cumulative leader for next generation game consoles.

  • PlayStation 4 was #1 for next generation software sales, with PS4 leading two of the top three titles.

  • PlayStation was #1 in combined home console hardware sales (PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3) for the month.

  • The biggest next generation software titles, including Watch Dogs, UFC, and FIFA 14, were #1 on PlayStation 4, further demonstrating that PS4 is the platform of choice for blockbuster games.

With no triple-a titles releasing this summer for Xbox One, Sony will be counting on the July 29 release of  The Last of Us Remastered on PS4 and the first major DLC  for Infamous Second Son, entitled First Light (shown at E3) to kickstart the humdrum summer season and help maintain its sizable lead over Microsoft.

In September, we will see the highly-anticipated release of Bungie’s Destiny on both next-gen platforms and well as the PS3 and Xbox 360, and annual sports installments in the form of the revamped NHL 15 and always-improving FIFA 15.

This console race is a marathon, not a sprint, and after eight months in the US market, things are starting to get interesting for both platforms. Time will tell if it remains a turtle race or if a one of these animals breaks away.

NOTES: Watch Dogs was top-selling game for June for second month in a row, followed by Mario Kart 8.

Wii U continued its console momentum from May into June with console sales up a mouth-dropping 233 percent over June 2013 sales, and the first six months of sales up 48 percent over the same time span last year.

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Project Spark gets an official release date

Project Spark moves on from beta and gets an official release.
Project Spark moves on from beta and gets an official release.

Project Spark has been limited to a free beta since late 2013, but the Microsoft exclusive has been finally confirmed for an October 7th release. The game will be $39.99 and available digitally on launch day.

The creative game offers players the ability to create, design, and “program” their own world with their own animations, sounds, and effects as well as play one of the many worlds other players have made. The game has had over 1,000,000 unique creations from players ranging from small unique 2D puzzle games, to full fledged 3D adventure games.

Those who elect to pick up the free beta will have free reign to choose how they approach the game — whether it be as a creator, or a player. The full game promises to expand on the game even more, by adding more objects, textures, and the ability to create multiplayer games.


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