Microsoft this week listed out the many features and other software updates it's added to Xbox One since the console launched a year ago. And while it's absolutely fair to tout such rapid improvement, and the user feedback that drove it, one must also wonder why many of these features were absent from the console in the first place.
"When Xbox One launched, we said we were deeply committed to our fans and our ongoing service updates have delivered hundreds of new features throughout the year," an Xbox Wire blog post reads. "In fact, we launched a new website, Xbox Feedback, to enable us to hear from you directly and let you vote for your favorite ideas. We received thousands of new feature recommendations and more than three quarters of a million votes this past year, and your feedback played a huge role in shaping new experiences on Xbox One. Keep them coming!"
There's no point in listing every single feature Microsoft added to Xbox One this past year, though you can play "lazy blogger bingo" along with me and see who does. Instead, I'd like to highlight a few that have demonstrably improved the platform, and do so in my own words. I know, look at the blogger, thinking a little instead of just copying and pasting.
My favorite new Xbox One features from the past year include:
System update changes. Now, system updates can be automatically installed the moment they're available and when the system reboots, it actually returns to standby mode upon completion. It's so obvious. And so welcome.
Friends section on the Dashboard. It's still too hard—and agonizingly slow—to get to your friends list while you're playing a game, but moving this most social of interfaces front and center was smart.
Snap updates. Adding Snap to Xbox One was a great idea, but it was too limited initially (just like it was in Windows 8). So Microsoft has improved this a lot in 2014, adding more and more snappable apps, but also improving the UI with a new Snap Center that makes this feature actually work.
Mobile purchases. Now, you can purchase a game from your SmartGlass-enabled smart phone or tablet and have it automatically download and install to your Xbox One remotely. Genius.
Media Player app for both USB- and network-based media. It still sucks, but they're at least working on it.
Sound mixer. OK this is sort of a Snap feature, but now you can you can control the volume levels of two snapped apps independently, so one can be loud and the other soft.
And my favorite feature, perhaps...
USB storage support. Microsoft's decision to hard wire the Xbox One hard drive inside this cavernous device was a bad one, and I hope and expect that some future console version will include a user-replaceable drive instead. But the firm did add the ability to plug in a USB hard drive—of which there are inexpensive and large capacity options—in order to expand the available storage for games, apps and media. So it's not ideal, but it is important. And with this season's releases of "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare" and "Halo: Master Collection," I've literally used up all my internal storage. So it's time to start shopping for a USB HDD.
If you want the complete list of changes, please refer to the Xbox Wire blog. Or any lazy tech blog. I'm sure you'll see plenty of copy and paste jobs out there today.