Yesterday, the Xbox Wire announced that the March update for Xbox One systems has officially started rolling out to consoles. This update makes quite a few changes to the interface improving interaction with friends and party systems. More importantly, it is entirely based off of user feedback since the initial launch of the console, once again demonstrating Microsoft’s dedication to satisfying the consumer’s desires.
First and foremost, the friends list has been moved front and center on the homepage of the Friends app. After launching the social tile either by clicking on it or saying “Xbox, go to friends”, you can immediately see who’s online and what they’re up to. You can easily send a quick message or launch a party. Now, when you create a party, the party chat option will automatically be turned on by default. The party chat also has two different options, separating everyone who is online, or just those who are playing the same game as you. That way, when you head into battle, you can tune out the others and focus on your strategy and team communication.
Returning from the Xbox 360 is the “invite friends to game” option for multiplayer titles. In game menus, there will be the option to quickly invite friends to join the party and the game. You can also see a list of recent players, making it easier to rejoin them, invite them to a party, add them as a friend, or submit player reviews.
The update also included preparation for the upcoming Twitch update which will allow users to start live-streaming content from the Xbox One. Once the update goes live, you will be able to see live thumbnails within the Friends List app showing you who’s actively broadcasting and what they are up to. From there, you can easily jump straight to their live broadcast and start watching. You will also be able to start and end your broadcasts via voice controls on the Kinect.
There were a lot of other technical upgrades being pushed in the March update as well. The Xbox One now supports 5.1 Dolby Digital through optical out and HDMI. This is extremely useful for users with a sound bar, as the majority of them only support optical audio. The setup for sound bar integration has also become a lot easier on the Xbox One, as you will no longer be required to input the model number for most sound bars or AVRs while setting up TV controls. After that, you can tweak the volume adjustment to increase or decrease by a custom increment when using voice controls. There will also be support for 50Hz output for live TV in full or fill modes which looks to fix frame rate issues some users were experiencing when watching live TV via the Xbox One.
SmartGlass will also be seeing some nice improvements during the March update. After updating both your Xbox One and the app, you’ll be able to receive push notifications from the Xbox alerting you that you’ve received a message. From the app, you can also view their recent activity and view their latest highlight clips. You’ll have improved control over your console allowing you to unsnap apps directly from your phone.
Last, but not least, the Xbox One controller is receiving a firmware update to allow stereo output in conjunction with the headset adapter that’s being released. You don’t actually need this update unless you plan on using the new Xbox Stereo Headset or if you own a third-party, or “legacy”, headset which you plan to use with the Xbox One. It’s a fairly simple process which involves connecting your controller to the Xbox One via the included USB cable. For full instructions, head over to Xbox Support for the details located here.
That’s about it as far as the March update is concerned, however Chief Product Officer, Marc Whitten, did have a few more things to say at the end of the post. In it, he hinted at upcoming features and reassured everyone that they are still listening to feedback, even though all requested features may not have made their way into the most recent update.
“We value all of the feedback we’re getting from you. Keep it coming! We are listening. We know external hard drive storage is another big one on your list. It’s on our list too. We’re working on that for a future update and will keep you posted. We’re also working on friends notification improvements and experimenting with how to make that better. Just as we do with Xbox 360, we’ll be continuing regular updates to Xbox One – some will be big, like this March update, and some will be smaller. Big or small, we’re committed to delivering continuous innovation through system updates like this one. Thanks for your feedback.”
Now get out there and update your consoles before “Titanfall” drops next week, then let us know in the comments below what you’re most excited for with this update or what you really want to see in the next update.
Anthony Ortale writes news and reviews on behalf of Examiner.com and as one half of Grinning Moth Productions. He does so much gaming in his spare time, it’s practically a full time job! If you like what you read here, please subscribe to his articles! You can also follow Tony on Twitter, or become a fan on Facebook! If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to email Tony any time at firstname.lastname@example.org, he’d love to hear from you!