Xbox One launch: Microsoft offers more details on its next-gen console

November 8, 2013

With the launch date for Xbox One coming up, Microsoft on Friday showed off more features that the next-generation console will offer.

In a lengthy company blog post, Microsoft listed 10 non-gaming features on the new console, expanding on its strategy of marketing Xbox One as an all-in-one entertainment device rather than simply a gadget for gamers.

Many of the features interact with televisions, such as voice controls that allow users to tell the console to “go to ESPN” or to change the volume with a voice command. Users also can watch broadcast and cable television on the Xbox through a connection to the cable or satellite box, which Microsoft says could eliminate the annoying need to switch TV inputs.

Microsoft also highlighted the computing power of Xbox One, such as its ability to run multiple apps side by side, a la Windows 8, and Skype. The features, Xbox staff wrote on the blog, are meant to make the console switch quickly from gaming to non-gaming uses.

And Xbox announced a handful of TV apps that will work with Xbox One, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Twitch, HBO Go, FiOS and the NFL. The console will have a personalized entertainment guide that shows users what programs are available on live TV and through apps, to cut down on search time.

Finally, the company released more information about how its SmartGlass app, which works on tablets and smartphones, will allow the console to integrate with mobile devices. Users will be able to use the app to check on the progress they have made on games played on their Xbox Live accounts.

Users can also use the app to navigate the console’s menus and search for content. The app will work on Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, iOS and Android devices, and will launch on the same day as Xbox One.

The console will be in stores on Nov. 22, a week after its rival for the holiday season, PlayStation 4, hits shelves Nov. 15.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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