If you've signed on to Xbox Live sometime between last night and this morning, chances are you were greeted with an update notification. The new Xbox Dashboard is finally here and with it some cool new features, but also some slightly annoying ones that hopefully can get ironed out.
First and foremost is the sleek new look. The Xbox Dashboard has definitely gone through some big changes over the years and this one, though not my favorite of them all, works for the most part. Its big square buttons serve to better navigate if you have a kinect, and each include a title that can be easily spoken as well, if you choose to navigate them with your voice. Though its great that the entire dashboard now supports voice navigation, it also seems to be a bit more sensitive this time around. For example when watching a netflix movie, the Xbox seemed to pick up on a conversation in the actual movie, and self activated the Kinects voice navigation (Insert an it's become self aware joke here).
One feature that takes the cake is being able to sign onto your profile from any Xbox, without the needless recovery that usually took up to 30 minutes every time. This time around, you just click on Download Your Profile, enter your Windows Live ID and Password, and within 5 – 6 minutes, your profile is ready to go. You can even opt to ask for the password everytime, just in case you're on someone's console who you don't fully trust with your profile. Another huge feature is Cloud saves. Cloud saving will eliminate the need for you to constantly keep dragging your Memory Unit with your saved games everywhere. Instead you get an alloted 512MB that you can now save your games to, as it's now an added option when you're saving your games.
Apps are also a new thing. Not entirely new, as existing applications like Netflix, Hulu, Facebook and Twitter are now considered Apps, but the new Apps Marketplace has some new additions as well. Movie streaming service EPIX, and the Today Show join the line up, but Microsoft is already teasing users with YouTube, Syfy, TMZ, I Heart Radio and a UFC service, as well as the already announced Verizon FiOS, and surprisingly Xfinity also, which would be a great surprise to Comcast subscribers.
The existing apps also received a facelift and are now more Kinect friendly, thought still entirely usable with your standard controller. The inclusion of EPIX is appreciated, though after asking around, and finding that no one actually knew what EPIX was, it seems like a very niche service. If you have Netflix, you most likely won't need to be worried about EPIX, but it does come with a 14 day Free Trial, so make sure to at least test it out.
Bing search is also a fairly handy tool. Let's say you want to search anything Assassin's Creed. Bing search will bring up videos, demos, DLC, and pretty much anything related to it. It even works with movies and TV shows. You can search for The Office and then go directly into Netflix from the search and watch it.
Users are already complaining about the needless switch of the X and Y button functionality, whereas X used to eject the disc and Y was game info, and now they are switched for some unknown reason. It's not a huge deal, but for users who have been using these shortcuts will have to get used to the switched functionality, unless Microsoft decides to switch them back at some point.