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Xbox preview program expanding its feature set

Xbox One users in the console's early access program are first in line to test out new features, but some within the program still get to try new features before other members. Ahead of its Gamescom presentation, Xbox has announced plans to share and expand "throughout the year" on the goods that only its most elite users have been able to enjoy.

For starters, the beefed-up friends section that has been available to a select few will be offered to everyone enrolled in the preview program. The new section allows users to monitor their friends' recent activity, check which games are most popular amongst their crowd, and compare their recent Gamerscore progress with others on a leaderboard spanning 30 days of activity.

The Snap Center will allow users to check messages, friends, parties and achievements via a snapped app, negating the need to duck out of a game to check any of those details. The Messages app will also show threaded conversations instead of individual replies, along with offering support for embedded DVR links.

Another new app will allow users to play media from a USB device or from a media server following DLNA protocols, assuming it's sharing a network with a Xbox One. Only USB devices will be supported at first, with DLNA support following. If nothing satisfies you in life like finding the perfect .gif, you're also in luck – animated gifs and "dozens of new file formats" will be supported by the end of the year, including .wav, .mpeg2 and .mov files.

Europe and other markets that the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner launches in will be the first to be able to stream TV from home networks to SmartGlass-capable devices, complete with support for rewinding and changing channels without halting gameplay. If you're happier watching shows on your TV, a Boot to TV feature is also coming, which will have the Xbox One boot directly to television when awakening from standby.
[Image: Major Nelson]

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