Xbox One: Profile

Xbox One: Profile

Lots of settings, some of them new

While Microsoft's Xbox Live online service has long supported various features related to your Xbox Live profile, those features vary from platform to platform. So it's no surprise, perhaps, that Xbox One expands on the profile features that were previously available on the Xbox 360. It also puts them up front and center.

The first change is immediately obvious: Access to your profile is now available directly from a new Profile tile on the default Home view in the Dashboard. With the Xbox 360, this stuff was buried in Settings.

When you select this tile, you're presented with the new Profile app, which provides a look at your activity feed—what your friends are doing on Xbox Live—by default. This app is very much like the People app in Windows 8, if you're familiar with that, but of course tailored to the activities that happen on Microsoft's game and entertainment service.

While the Profile app provides access to various Xbox Live features—your friends list, followers (new to Xbox One), messages, achievements and Game DVR (also new to Xbox One)—for today, we're focused on the new profile functionality. And if you select the top option on that Profile app's home screen—My Profile—you're presented with a new interface that lets you view and edit your profile.

From here, you can check out your reputation (new to Xbox One) and recent activity—that bit scrolls off to the right—and edit the following:

Presence. By default, you are shown as online and available when you sign in to the Xbox One. But you can appear offline to your friends, followers and others by selecting the "Appear Offline" option, much as you might in an instant messaging app.

Dashboard color scheme. Like Windows 8, Xbox One lets you choose a color scheme for the UI, and since this scheme is tied to your profile, you'll see it each time you sign in to the console.

Gamerpic. With the Xbox 360, you could make a gamerpic—an icon-like representation of your profile for others to see—from pre-made icons, your avatar or, for your friends, using a photo you took with an optional camera accessory. Xbox One turns things up a notch with much higher quality pre-made images, or you can make one with your avatar as before. Since the gamerpic you create on Xbox One is much better looking than the old ones ported over from the Xbox 360, you should consider taking a moment to make this change. (And there are hundreds of built-in images now, plus far more avatar-based customizations.)

Gamertag. Your Gamertag is the name that others see when they play against you or otherwise interact with you through Xbox Live. My Gamertag is my name—Paul Thurrott—for transparency's sake, but many people choose custom names of course. You can change your Gamertag through the Xbox One, as you could with the 360, and as before there's a $10 charge for doing so to prevent people from changing their names too frequently.

Avatar. While the use of an avatar has been somewhat deemphasized in Xbox One—kind of like Jar Jar Binks was "deemphasized" in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones—you can still access an on-device avatar editor if you wish to do so. I try to stay out of this area, personally.

Privacy settings. The Profile app provides this handy link to a set of features that are otherwise somewhat buried in Settings, and I recommend that anyone using Xbox One (or Xbox Live otherwise, for that matter) spend some time custom-tuning their privacy settings. There are defaults for children, teens and adults, but most people will want to step through Custom instead. There are many options related to what you can do and see and to what others can do with/to you and see what you're doing. Take the time to get this one right.

Note: You can also access profile settings by navigating to Settings and choosing the About Me tile. This Settings interface is another area where it's worth taking the time to step through everything: There are many, many options here and you'll want to ensure the console is configured properly for your needs.

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