February 16, 2013

JJ gets to beta test the new Xbox Dashboard layout

Jimmy Jangles gets to beta test the new Xbox layout

Somehow I managed to find myself as a beta tester for the new Xbox dashboard layout. I'm not sure how this happened but I recall being sworn to secrecy on the basis if I spoke about it Steve Ballmer would turn up at my house with a gimp suit, expecting a hot night out. My secrecy assured , I was given the keys to the kingdom by way of a code redeemed via the Market Place on the Xbox itself.

This code then allowed me to download a program that told the bowels of Xbox's mainframe that I was good to go and be a tester. And duly their computer talked to my computer, secret handshakes were conducted and I had the new dashboard.

And that's about it really, I just used the dash to load up Dead Space 2 which I was playing at the time and went about on my merry way.

So what was the first thing I did? I went straight to the big blue E which stands for Internet Explorer and tried to use the internet but first I had to download the IE application. Yawn.  Eventually, we got there but the whole time of the download I was wishing I was getting Chrome. Still Internet on the Xbox worked a treat. The Xbox controller was easy to use with the app, the only slow part was entering URLs. Kinect is present but limited. While one can use Kinect to save a website as a favorite, one still has to type in the url using the keyboard. Having Kinect fully integrated with IE would be amazing but I imagine that's coming down the line 

No Flash meant certain things couldn't be displayed which was disappointing. I thought Steve Jobs worked at Apple (do they ever drink cider there?)?

I didn't try out Voice Studio which appears to be a tool to improve voice recognition on the Kinect which seems like a great way to teach the device how to pick up on accents from people from Noo Zillan.

Movies and TVs have had a good revamp. The new feature to search by Studio is possibly a good idea - I imagine lots of parents will go to the Disney section often. I didn't spy Pixar there though and I couldn't find Up in the general movie section so bad form Xbox - get Pixar movies on your service !

The System Music Player - which plays your MP3s has not had an update which is a bit lame as I have always thought it an area of weak design for the Xbox.

I was pleased to be able to use the new Smart Glass feature where I can use my iPad and iPhone as a controller. While it's the first iteration of this kind of software for the Xbox, I found it easy to use - it worked quite well with the You Tube application.

People have already covered how Facebook and Twitter are no longer there as applications which is fine by me as I hardly ever used them (that is possibly a reason why they were removed) however you can access this and other social media via Internet Explorer.

In all, the new Dashboard amendments means are not a giant leap forward but a strong step in the direction of making the Xbox console a one stop shop for all your Internet and family entertainment needs.

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