At GDC, Microsoft gave us a preview of what Xbox players can expect in the next major update. Now, that update is available to download, and it adds a plethora of UI, functionality, and streaming features.
The update's main feature is the introduction of Beam, Microsoft’s new low-latency streaming service. All you have to do is go to its menu within the Guide then select whether you want to activate chat, voice, or the camera. After that you’re ready to go. If you already have an existing Beam account, you can connect it to your Xbox account, but if you don’t have one, Beam will make a temporary account when you use it for the first time. You can then finalize the details on that account to make it permanent. If you want to record gameplay, you can manually activate the feature, or tell it to record the past 15 or 30 seconds as well as the past one, three, or five minutes.
You’ll also notice that the UI has changed. The main game at the top of the screen has a smaller icon. This allows you to access other related items to the game such as its Game Hub, communities, and even the achievements that come with it. However, the change isn’t just cosmetic. Behind the new change are also improvements in overall stability and performance so you can navigate faster through the menus without any hitches or freezes.
In addition, the Guide mini-menu also received a new upgrade in that it shows the achievements for the game you’re currently playing, but you can also display specific achievements that you want to get as an overlay within the game. If you play music while you play, you can now control playback and volume from within the Guide as well.
There are also some new accessibility settings with the existing Magnifier, Narrator, and audio output tools. There’s also a new feature called Copilot, which allows you to set up two local controllers so that they act like one whole controller. This is useful in helping out another player with specific needs, but it’s also an interesting way to make any game a more cooperative experience. Speaking of the controller, you can now change the vibration settings on any Xbox One controller, a feature that was previously reserved for the Xbox Elite Controller.
Other features include a new Cortana overlay and improved commands, the ability for parents to set screen time limits for children, and support for bitstream passthrough with the console’s Blu-ray disc player.
Some of these updates are specific to the console, but other features, most notably Beam, will also make their way to the PC as part of Microsoft’s Creators Update to Windows 10. In addition, PC players will get to try out the new Game Mode, which is supposed to increase performance during gameplay. We’ll see if Microsoft can meet expectations when the update drops on April 11.