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Image credit: Larry Hryb/Microsoft

Xbox One's faster, simpler interface is available to everyone

The update also adds built-in Beam streaming and slicker multitasking.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
03.29.17 in AV
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Larry Hryb/Microsoft

After no small amount of hype, the Xbox One's big spring software refresh is finally rolling out to everyone. The March update centers around a redesigned interface that's designed for speed above all else. It's quicker to perform more than a few tasks, such as finding a group to join. The revamped Guide should be much quicker, too -- it promises faster access to recent apps, background music controls and game recording. A few tweaks are designed with multitasking in mind, such as a brand new achievement tracker and a Cortana rework that puts the voice assistant into an overlay that won't disrupt what you're doing.

There is one immediate drawback to all this: the console's signature Snap mode is going away. You may not miss it too much (how often do you run apps side by side on your TV?), but there's a good chance you'll notice.

OF course, it's not just about the front end. The Xbox One now has built-in Beam streaming, letting you broadcast your gaming adventures using Microsoft's in-house service instead of Twitch. Gameplay is also more accessible thanks to a Copilot feature that splits controls between controllers. Media junkies will like support for Blu-ray player bitstream passthrough (to have a receiver decode audio), and parents can set screen time for their kids through a web interface. While the Xbox One won't feel like a brand new system after all these improvements, it's clearly getting a breath of fresh air.

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