Following months of fevered rumor and speculation, Microsoft finally took the veil off the Xbox One, a console that furthers Redmond's efforts to take over your entire living room experience. The new system will come packaged with an updated version of the Kinect sensor and will be available "later this year." No price was announced.
The presenters on stage at Tuesday's launch event consistently branded the new console as technology that will unify the living room and bring all of your entertainment--games, music, and movies--into one location. And with a bevy of impressive new functionality, it appears that the One might just be able to assume that role of one central device.
Microsoft is well aware that the television resides at the center of your entertainment universe. And the Xbox One wants to be the gatekeeper for those experiences. All of them.
Xbox owns your TV
Voice commands will be a big part of interacting with the One. While we can assume you'll still be able to navigate via your controller or Smart Glass app, Yusef Mehdi, Microsoft's senior vice president of interactive entertainment, demonstrated how to navigate the One using voice commands and gesture control with the updated Kinect sensor.
Users can instantly activate the One by uttering "Xbox On." The Xbox will be able to differentiate the user's voice and automatically remember where that particular user last left off in the dashboard.
One of the most impressive features demonstrated Tuesday was Xbox One's Instant Switching, which moves between functions with little latency. Like the current Xbox Kinect, users can switch between functions with voice commands such as "Xbox go to music" and "Xbox go to game," but the One is able to do it with the ease of switching between television channels.
One of the biggest additions is the introduction of live television streams into the Xbox experience. Users can instantly switch to live TV via a prompt of "Xbox Live TV." The One even features a TV Guide-like "Xbox One Guide," which shows what television is available right now alongside on-demand content. Additionally, users will be able to organize media content by "favorites" as well as by what content is currently trending in popularity.
Borrowing a trick from Windows 8, the One's new Snap Mode will allow users to multitask between different apps and functions on the same screen. For example, if you're watching a live sporting event, you can prompt the One to access your updated fantasy league stats or search the Web for using Explorer--all in one screen.
One will also offer Skype integration and allow users to video chat using the network directly through the Kinect sensor. In effect, Xbox will make any TV it is attached to a smart TV--smarter and more functional than almost any TV we've seen to date.
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