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Xbox 360 Dashboard Update Coming December 6
Xbox 360 Dashboard Update Coming December 6
November 22, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

November 22, 2011 | By Kyle Orland
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    10 comments
More: Console/PC, Design



A free dashboard update coming to all Xbox 360s on December 6 will add features such as cloud storage for game saves, improved Kinect integration, and improved social sharing features.

The newly redesigned dashboard UI does away with the familiar menu system in favor of a new "Twist Control" interface that lets users quickly flick through clustered channels using a controller, or with Kinect-powered gestures and voice controls.

New cloud storage options will allow Xbox users to back up game saves and Xbox Live profiles on Microsoft's servers, allowing for easy retrieval in the event of a hardware failure or play on a different console. PlayStation Plus users have had similar cloud-based saves since March.

The update will also see the rollout of Beacons, a new feature letting Xbox users more easily share their activity with Xbox Live and Facebook and connect with friends for multiplayer sessions. Kinect users will also be able to use Bing voice search to find content on their console and Xbox Live.

The December 6 also update will begin Microsoft's introduction of new video content from a number of previously revealed partners including Comcast and HBO, though some of that content may be rolled out "on an ongoing basis through the holiday months."


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Comments


Lyon Medina
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Woo! I am so excited for this. I have a Kinect and a chance to use it more often is a plus for me.

Harry Fields
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Yes on cloud-based game saves! That killed me when I had a drive fail on the 360 a couple years ago. I'm hoping and assuming "xbox720" will launch with that feature.

Ali Afshari
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I'm excited for the cloud saves (hopefully I can save copy-protected save files like Mass Effect2) and the eventual Youtube integration...I'm sick of the pixelated quality of Youtube clips on my PS3.

Joe McGinn
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On the one hand, the last thing I want is for it to change again (you know Microsoft, if you get an interface right in the first place, you don't have to reinvent it every 18 months). On the other hand, it's hard to imagine a user interface worse than the current XBox 360 mess.

Jamie Mann
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True dat. The Metro interface was designed to be used on portable, touch-screen devices with physically small screens; it's clumsy and extremely wasteful of real-estate on a much-larger HDTV display which is operated by a physical controller. Also, information (e.g. game descriptions) is incredibly badly laid out.



Then too, the current Dashboard removed several pieces of functionality, including the ability to add game ratings; these days, you have to log into the website to rate a game you've just played. The inconvenience of this means that fewer people rate games.



Overall, there's definitely room for improvement, though it remains to be seen if the new, Kinect-friendly changes are actually going to help matters or not[*].



[*] I mean, seriously? I know Kinect has sold well, but how many people use it as the primary controller for the Xbox 360's dashboard? Personally, I'm much happier sitting on the couch and using the controller: it's quicker, more ergonomic and doesn't result in my elbowing my partner in the face while trying to browse the menus...

Lyon Medina
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@ Jamie



I would be one of those I guess. But I use it for voice controls. There is nothing better than when I am watching netflix, and I want to stop the movie I yell X-Box pause. It sounds dumb, but its useful. And I think the reason for this change is just the addition of Kinect support, Youtube intergration, and Bing. If it weren't for upgrades and new processes we would still have a brick for a cell phone, and a personal computer would be the size of a house.



Progress is good. (Sometimes)

Joe McGinn
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Problem with Kinect is it's one step forward, two steps back. Lack of physical feedback makes it an inherently inferior input device. Microsoft wishes to be in denial of this fact; I wish them luck.

Jamie Mann
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@Lyon:



I can see it having some uses - after all, unlike the physical controller, the Kinect camera doesn't automatically power itself down. But to be honest, a $5 remote control[*] is quicker and easier to use, especially in a noisy environment. And it also consumes virtually no power (a brief pulse of IR generated from a pair of AAA batteries), unlike Kinect, which needs a constant 12w power flow.



Beyond that, I'll fully agree that well-thought out change is good; the issue within the console market is that the level of competition is pretty limited (unlike other electronic devices such as mobile phones, mp3 players, TVs and DVD/Blu-ray players), which means that there hasn't been the same drive to improve ergonomics and maximise ease-of-use. As such, I tend to suspect that console interface changes are driven more by marketing imperatives ("We need it to look pretty", "We need it to match our mobile/Windows 8 UI", " "We need a reason for people to buy Kinect!") than genuine attempts to improve ease-of-use.



I could also mutter about the "dumbing down" of interfaces - from the infinitely flexible keyboard and mouse to the modern controller, and then down to "clumsy" interfaces such as Kinect and touch-screens; each wave is nominally easier to use, but is also slower and less flexible. For instance, when doing cleanup on my 60gb Xbox 360, I need to manually select each file on an individual basis, which increases overall maintenance time by a factor of about ten and means I can't leave the machine to process the changes in the background.



But that's a bit of a different debate ;)



[*] a quick look shows that on ebay.co.uk, X360 remote controls start from 2.99, or approx. $5 - with shipping included! Personally, I use a universal remote control to handle the TV, Xbox, DVD player and media streamer (WD TV Live) all from a single device...

Lyon Medina
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@Jamie



Very much agreed.



I personally am one of those who is happy with any progress than no progress at all. Sometimes you gotta make a mistake to know which way you don't to go in life.

Eric Ruck
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Totally want Cloud Saves. We're a multiple XBox house, that would simplify sharing greatly.


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