Road to Next-Gen: How Xbox One Brings Games and Entertainment Together

Road to Next-Gen: How Xbox One Brings Games and Entertainment Together

Wondering what it's like to use an Xbox One? Wonder no longer.

The countdown to next-gen continues, and both Sony and Microsoft are stepping up their game to get people excited about the new systems.

After Sony's announcement of the entertainment apps you'd be able to use at launch on PS4, Microsoft has shot back with its own list of entertainment content. The exact list varies according to region; for the United States it looks like this:

  • Amazon Instant Video
  • Crackle
  • CWTV
  • ESPN
  • Fox Now
  • Machinima
  • Muzu TV
  • Netflix
  • Redbox Instant
  • Target Ticket
  • TED
  • The NFL on Xbox One
  • Twitch
  • Univision Deportes
  • Verizon FiOS TV
  • VUDU

A number of these cross over with what's available on PlayStation 4, but both platforms appear to have their own unique content. Microsoft notes that HBO Go will also be available on Xbox One "soon," suggesting it won't be ready for launch; on PlayStation 4, meanwhile, there was no mention of it at all.

What's quite interesting about the entertainment apps on Xbox One is that they'll feature a special Gamerscore-less achievement system called Challenges. The screenshot above, originally posted on our sister site Eurogamer, shows that each app has its own bank of achievements, complete with a "percentage completed" readout, and there also appear to be time-limited challenges to complete -- in the case of Amazon Instant Video in the shot above, there seems to be a long-term and short-term challenge active at any one time.

These achievements and challenges will doubtless help drive engagement with the new apps, and will almost certainly be used as a means of marketing and advertising for the services in question, most of which are subscription-based. Those Xbox One owners who simply have to earn 100% of the achievements on everything they do will be given a nudge into making use of these apps more than they might perhaps otherwise -- or, perhaps more importantly, using them on Xbox One rather than rival platforms.

As well as the entertainment apps outlined above, Xbox One will also play host to its own first-party Xbox Video, Xbox Music, Internet Explorer, Skype, SkyDrive and Upload Studio apps, as well as the Kinect-powered Xbox Fitness service that will be free to Gold subscribers for a limited time.

Alongside the list of apps, Microsoft also released a video featuring Yusuf Mehdi and Marc Whitten, demonstrating how the Xbox One's interface works.

The video highlights how the Xbox One interface is fully customizable, and usable by more than one person at once. You can switch the interface to your favorite color, pin your favorite apps to the interface, and switch between users if multiple people are present by saying "Xbox, show my stuff" to Kinect.

One potentially useful feature of the OS is that it allows for suspend and resume functionality for multitasking between apps. If you're playing a game, for example, you can quickly switch to Internet Explorer and look up some information, then switch back to the game and pick back up where you left off without any loading breaks. If you have an incredibly short attention span, you can even switch back and forth between games, video streaming services and other apps such as Skype, then resume any of them at will.

The video also shows the Upload Studio software, which allows you to edit gameplay footage recorded by saying "Xbox, record that" to Kinect. Using this, you can add skins and effects, add picture-in-picture commentary and narration, then upload it online for everyone to see. Friends are notified as to new gameplay clips through the Friends app, which includes a social media-style activity feed describing what everyone has been up to. Here, you can quickly and easily jump to new videos that people have posted, view profile information and even follow people who are not registered as friends. You will be able to control what friends and followers are able to see in terms of your activity.

What do you think? Any of this making you more or less excited about what the Xbox One has to offer to your living room?

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