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Xbox One’s new dashboard arrives today, here’s what’s included

New Home screen, improved Guide, Beam game streaming and Cortana multitasking

The new Xbox One dashboard
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The long awaited update for the Xbox One dashboard drops today. A press release issued by Microsoft says that it includes a new Home screen, improved Guide menu, the Beam streaming option, enhanced multitasking and deeper Cortana integration.

The first thing Xbox owners will see when booting up this evening is the new Home screen. Microsoft says it’s faster than the old one and designed to with “prioritizing the most valuable content for your games” in mind. The game icon itself is smaller, while community hooks like Clubs, Groups and Achievements are more visible. The background image will also default to key art from the most recently played game if you don’t have a fixed background image selected.

The new Xbox One Home screen in action.

Pushing the Xbox button on the controller brings up the new Guide on the left-hand side of the screen. It will include quick links out to Games and Apps, as well as this month’s Games and Deals with Gold for Xbox Live Gold members. No more hunting for the offers in the storefront, just tap the button and start downloading what your subscription dollars entitle you to. The guide also features a simple integration of the background music player and access to the GameDVR.

The new multitasking system is described as an evolution of the old. Microsoft says they’ve been closely integrated with the Guide itself. It includes a new achievement tracker that lets you keep objectives in an overlay while you play. Cortana can also be pressed into service. Her new multitasking overlay will allow you to more easily and consistently use voice commands to control your Party settings and play background music.

The new Guide menu looks like a big improvement over the old.

The last major update is the introduction of a new streaming service called Beam, which Microsoft says will “unify players across Xbox One console and PC.

With Beam, we’re inviting Creators on Windows 10 PC and Xbox One to stream gameplay and interact with the community in near real-time using Beam’s ultra low-latency — no extra hardware or software required. Starting today, you can stream your Xbox gameplay directly from the Guide on your Xbox One, with the ability to manage your Beam broadcasts and interact with fellow gamers on chat overlays that appear on your screen. ... Beam broadcasting is built right into your Xbox One. Once you start streaming, Beam makes it easy to connect and engage with your viewers no matter where they are. You’ll also find the new Beam viewing app in My Games and Apps, which lets you watch, chat, and interact with your favorite game streamers in near real-time.

There is already a Twitch app available for Xbox One. Time will tell if streamers go flocking to the new Beam service.

Other new features include a novel accessibility feature called Copilot. It lets players split the functionality of a single controller across two different controllers. “This will help make Xbox One more inviting to gamers who can benefit from playing along with another person,” Microsoft said, “more fun for families by adding cooperative controls for any game, and easier for players who need unique configurations to play.” There are also new revisions to the Magnifier and Narrator tools.

For home theater aficionados, a small update next week will also allow for Blu-ray player bitstream passthrough, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Here’s a video from Xbox Live’s Larry Hryb showing off the new dash:

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