Tag Archives: update

Xbox One update brings social improvements, Twitch live broadcasting

I told you it was coming and now it’s here: part 2 of Xbox One’s first major system update has arrived. As promised, the update provides improvements to the multiplayer and party systems. You can get to your friends list faster now that the Friends app shows you the list right off the bat when you open it up; to get to the activity feed simply swipe to the right. Also, party chat is turned on by default now so when you invite friends into a party you can get the conversation started immediately. The Friends app has also been updated to feature the missing “recent players” list. Another significant addition to the XB1 is live broadcasting. When the Twitch app gets updated this week, gamers will be able to say “Xbox, broadcast” to stream their gameplay live to other platforms. Twitch also allows you to watch stream from other Xbox One gamers as well as other platforms like PS4 and PCs. Though live broadcasting gameplay was a major feature that shipped with PS4 at its launch, Microsoft may have the upper hand now since their console extends the ability to share and view beyond their own system.

Just like the first update, this new one will automatically download while your console is “Instant On” enabled; if it isn’t you’ll be prompted to download and install it the next time you turn it on. Interestingly, and quite annoyingly, Microsoft is also issuing a firmware update for its Xbox One wireless controllers. Connect your pad to the system via micro-USB and hit start, go to settings, system, update controller. The update open the controller to accepting the Xbox One stereo headset adapter as well as support for 1st and 3rd party headsets.

Click after the break to view the full list of updates packed inside the latest Xbox One update. You’ll also spot a brief video tour of the new update, as well as a first look at Twitch live broadcasting. The Twitch app update enabling this anticipated new XB1 feature goes live this Tuesday, March 11 to coincide with the launch of the even more anticipated XB1 exclusive title Titanfall.

[Via Xbox 1, 2] READ MORE Xbox One update brings social improvements, Twitch live broadcasting

Xbox One receives its first major update with another one on the way

If you flipped on your Xbox One over the weekend then you were privy to the console very first significant update. Though the majority of new improvements are under-the-hood (namely stability and bug fixes), users will notice a few changes in appearance and functionality. A tiny yet welcome addition to the home screen is a battery indicator letting you know how much juice is left in your controller; if you don’t see it simply tap the Xbox button on your pad and it’ll reveal itself. Additionally, the My games & apps section has been updated and organized separating installed games and apps into respective folders. You can now “manage” games and apps; you can view how much space they take up and delete them from you console if you so choose. Also, users can see exactly how much space they have remaining on their HDDs. A download queue is also located inside the My games & apps section; you can pick the order in which you want your content to load from there. Lastly, the One now works with any USB keyboard–browsing with Internet Explorer just got a lot easier. Jump after the break for the full update breakdown.

The update rolled out to Xbox One owners over the weekend. If you have the “Instant On” feature enabled then your console will automatically download the update while it’s in sleep mode. If you turned that feature off then you’ll be prompted to download and install the update the next time you boot up.

Microsoft says this is phase one of a two part update coming to Xbox One. The next update will roll out in March and it promises improvements to the multiplayer and party systems. Stick it here to find out when it drops.

[Via Microsoft 1, 2] READ MORE Xbox One receives its first major update with another one on the way

New changes coming to Facebook: the News Feed gets a “clutter-free” redesign

Heads up, Facebookers; there’s a new design update coming to the ubiquitous social networking site. Before it lands in your lap, get a quick overview of what to expect right here, right now.

After overhauling profile pages and search, Facebook’s next task is to revamp the News Feed by reducing clutter and making the site’s main portal even more personal. The site promises “you [will] see all the stories you saw in your News Feed before, but with a fresh new look.” Each story (or post) that your friends share will show up in your News Feed will be highlighted in new ways to make content discovery easier; for example, photos, news articles, maps, and events will appear larger and brighter and more colorful and vibrant. Also new is the addition of several feeds users can choose from. There’s a new drop-down menu in News Feed that allows you to dig deeper into specific content your friends are sharing. For example, the Photos feed filters out everything except for the photos your friends are posting; the Music feed tells you what your friends are listening to and provides you information about the artists you like; and the Following feed will show you the latest news from the Pages you like and the people you follow. Mark Zuckerberg says the enhanced News Feed aims to “give everyone in the world the best personalized newspaper we can.”

The new and improved News Feed is inspired by Facebook’s mobile presence. For example, the left-hand menu that users are used to exposing with a flick from the left-hand side of a tablet or smartphone’s screen will soon be accessible in desktop browsers. Also, users will have the ability to jump right to the top of News Feed whenever new stories trickle in. The main reason for porting over these mobile functions is to unify the overall Facebook experience across all devices. The “same clean look” will soon be present on our phones, tablets, and desktop browsers.

When is “soon” exactly? Facebook isn’t providing a hard date for the switchover, but the new News Feed will slowly roll out over the coming weeks on web and mobile, so says the company. If you’re itching to get your hands on the new design, you can join the feature’s waiting list right here; that site will also give you a visual rundown of it all. Facebook employees discuss the inspiration and vision for the News Feed redesign in a brief video embedded after the break.

[Via Facebook 1, 2] READ MORE New changes coming to Facebook: the News Feed gets a “clutter-free” redesign

Xbox 360 dashboard update rolling out today, Xbox Music coming to Microsoft devices this month

Flip on your Xbox 360 today and you might find an update waiting for you to download and install. Microsoft releases updates to its video game console every fall and spring, and we’re well into October so this refresh shouldn’t come as a giant surprise. Nor should most of its features since the most prominent ones were highlighted at this year’s E3. But let’s recap. With nearly every update comes a refreshed dashboard with user interface tweaks; overall the design and layout largely remain the same, but you’ll notice that each hub now houses more tiles. Some of them are tailored to your gaming habits, recent activity, and content ratings, while others are merely advertisements. You can create a personalized folder of “pinned” items; you can pin your favorite games, movies, TV shows, and music to an easy-to-access destination on the dashboard. Bing search has been enhanced to allow for search by genre; for example, you can speak to your Kinect and say “Xbox, Bing sci-fi” and related content will show up. And last but not least there’s the introduction of Internet Explorer; Xbox nabs a web browser. Where’s Xbox SmartGlass? Microsoft is holding off on the second-screen experience until Windows 8 launches; when it does users will be able to control their consoles via tablets and smartphones and interact with content in new ways. (Learn more about SmartGlass here.)

Here’s how the rollout will work, according to Xbox’s Major Nelson. “To ensure a stable release, this will be a gradual deployment across subscribers and regions over the course of the next week. Our initial deployment will reach approximately three million consoles worldwide, with additional users being updated over the course of a couple weeks.” So there you go.

Announced separately from this fall’s dashboard update is the rollout of Xbox Music. With Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 on the horizon, Microsoft wants to forget the Zune era and start anew with a cloud-based music service that extends across the desktop/tablet OS, the phone OS, and the home console. Currently Xbox Music is available on Xbox 360. Users will notice a newly branded destination to browse, stream, and download music. In the Music hub there’s an Xbox Music tile that takes you to Microsoft’s collection of 30 million songs. To access the content, users must sign up for an Xbox Music Pass that goes for $9.99/month or $99.90/year. With the Pass, you can stream individual songs and full-length albums, ad-free. A free 30-day trial is offered if you feel so inclined to dip your toe.

When Windows 8 ships later this month on October 26, Xbox Music will be the destination for music consumption from Microsoft there, too. Unlike 360 owners, desktop/tablet users will have free unlimited, ad-supported access to the music database. Purchase an Xbox Music Pass and the ads go bye-bye; and also with the Pass, you’ll be able to save songs for offline listening. A feature called Smart DJ allows you to personalize a radio station based on your favorite artists. Since Xbox Music is a cloud-based service, your entire music collection (including playlists and Smart DJ data) is synced across devices including your desktop/tablet, phone, and console. Start streaming a song on your Xbox, pause it, and continue exactly where you left off on your tablet. You get the idea. Feel the urge to download a song for keeps? Purchase it in the Xbox Music Store, available on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

Speaking of Microsoft’s phone OS, Xbox Music will begin to rollout to WP8 devices as they ship after the OS’ release later this month. Xbox 360’s rules apply to WP8 devices–an Xbox Music Pass is required to access streaming content. To reiterate, free ad-supported streaming is only available to Win8 users. Microsoft notes that they plan to expand the service to other platforms (think Android, iOS) sometime in the future.

In review: your Xbox is about to be injected with new life, and Microsoft is ready to take on the likes of Apple, Amazon, and Spotify with the launch of their very own cloud-based music streaming service and storefront. If you’ve got an Xbox, you can explore Microsoft’s new offerings today; for the rest of you it will come baked in Windows 8 when it releases in just over a week.

[Via MajorNelson; Microsoft]

Google+ goes under the knife to provide a more streamlined experience

The next time you login to Google’s social network things will look entirely different. That’s because the search giant has gone ahead and updated Google+’s interface practically from head to toe. You’ll notice that the static icons that used to live up top have been replace by a dynamic ribbon of applications that are now located to the left. Apps can be organized to your liking and quick actions can be accessed simply by hovering your cursor over them. Your list of Google+ and Gmail Chat buddies can be exposed to the right in a move that mimics Facebook’s sidebar. Other big changes include the Explore app that shows you “what’s hot” and trending on the network and Hangouts now has its very own page dedicated to informing you about open Hangouts you might be interested in joining. The new version of Google+ is currently rolling out to all members of Google’s social spot, so log in and explore the alterations and new additions today. After the break there’s a video highlighting it all.

[Via Google] READ MORE Google+ goes under the knife to provide a more streamlined experience

Facebook Timeline now available worldwide

Mark Zuckerberg announced his social network’s redesigned profile page dubbed Timeline back in September at F8, Facebook’s developer conference. Just shy of three months later and Timeline is out of beta and now available worldwide for Facebook users to see and interact with. The new look is fully detailed at this previous post, and there are a few new things you should know about concerning the rollout of Timeline. Facebook is giving users a 7-day review period once Timeline is activated on an account. This means that you’ll have seven days to review everything that appears on your timeline before anyone else can see it. During this time you can feature and hide stories from your past and get your profile page looking just the way you want it before all your friends view it. Once your Timeline is ready, you can terminate the review period and publish your profile page manually; or you can simply let the week pass and it’ll automatically publish. Timeline is currently rolling out to all Facebook users. If you haven’t received the update yet and want it now, head over to Facebook’s “Introducing Timeline” site and click the Get Timeline button. The redesign is also available to view at m.facebook.com and on the Facebook app for Android. There is no ETA for when the update will reach iOS devices.

Update: That was quick. Facebook just rolled out a new version of the Facebook app for iOS devices (v4.1) and it brings the Timeline experience to iPhones and iPod touches. Timeline support for iPads is still listed as “coming soon.” Note that you will only see Timelines on your mobile device(s) if the feature has already been enabled on the desktop browser-based Facebook. The update also brings access to subscribers and subscriptions and performance improvements.

[Via Facebook]

Twitter gets a new look, again

On Thursday Twitter announced that it’s rolling out another new look for its homepage. This time around, the desktop and mobile experiences are getting simpler and streamlined. (New) New Twitter is organized into four sections: Home, Connect, Discover, and Me. Let’s take a brief tour…

Home is home to your personal collection of tweets. The desktop version is organized into two columns. To the left there’s your personal info including your name, profile picture, your number of tweets, who you’re following, and your followers; there’s also a link to your profile page and a way to quickly compose and send out a tweet. Underneath that you’ll find follower suggestions and the trending topics list. To the right there’s the familiar list of incoming tweets from the people you follow. The new interface allows tweets that are attached with images and videos to expand so you can easily explore embedded media. Replying, retweeting, and favoriting tweets are all just one hover and click away.

Connect acts as a hub very much like the Activity Feed of the old Twitter. It’s the place where you’ll see who has followed or mentioned you, retweeted or favorited one of your tweets. Tweets are organized by Interactions and Mentions. A search bar sits at the top and you can use it to find and discover people by entering their @username or full name.

Discover highlights trending topics and stories that are being talked about on the social network. This section is organized like this: Stories, Activity, Who to follow, Find friends, and Browse categories. Stories that are shown to you are based on recent popularity as well as your connections, location and language. Activity shows everything your connections do related to the accounts that they follow. See who else your connections follow, their lists and what Tweets they favorite, retweet or reply to most. In Discover the search bar at the top allows you to enter a hashtag or keyword to further explore a topic of your choice.

Me servers as your profile page and it can be fully customized from here. A gallery of your recently tweeted photos and videos are stored here, as are your Direct Messages.

The new Twitter design is the network’s most simplistic to date, and best of all it transfers over to the mobile space too. Whether you’re accessing Twitter from a desktop or your cell phone the experience will be nearly identical. How do you enable the new look? Easy! Download and login to the latest versions of Twitter on your iPhone or Android device and then you should be able to access the new desktop version. Twitter says they’re working on rolling it out to all users “over the next few weeks.”

[Via Twitter 1, 2]

Nintendo 3DS software update introduces 3D video recording and more

Today Nintendo boosted its 3DS handheld with some fresh functionality. Nintendo said this feature was coming and now it’s finally here: after downloading the free software update, 3DS owners can now have fun with 3D video recording. You can record up to 10 minutes of glasses-free 3D video in continuous or stop-motion style. Another cool new feature is system transfer; if you’ve got a 3DS you can transfer photos, audio recordings and games, including save data, to other 3DS systems. Street Pass Mii Plaza and the Nintendo eShop have been updated as well. Buying and downloading content in the shop has been made easier; you can use your credit card to purchase content by adding only the needed funds, you can choose to Download Now or Download Later, and now there’s the ability to cue up downloadable content and let it install to your system in Sleep Mode. The update also includes something special for Mario Kart 7 players; any time you play online against another Nintendo 3DS owner in MK7, you can now automatically add them to your Friend List without a friend code. And last there’s Nintendo Zone. If you find yourself standing in one of Ninty’s 29,000 3DS hotspot locations you’ll be offered free and automatic access to game previews, 3D videos, trivia challenges, retailer promotions, coupons and more. Dig into the 3DS’ system settings to perform the software update right now.

[Via Nintendo]

The new Xbox 360 dashboard goes live today [Update: iOS companion app out now]

Gamers, are you ready for dat new New Xbox Experience? Today Microsoft is lifting the veil on the latest dashboard user interface for Xbox 360. And this one’s a doozy. Besides an entirely new “Metro” look to match Windows Phone’s and Windows 8’s skins, the refreshed dashboard introduces expanded voice control with Kinect, Bing voice search, YouTube, enhanced Facebook sharing capabilities, cloud storage, beacons, updated parental controls, and customized applications for televisions, movies, internet videos, sports and music. Starting today, EPIX and TODAY (MSNBC) join Netflix, Hulu Plus, ESPN, and Zune for video offerings in the United States. Later this month, Crackle, iHeartRadio, MSNBC.com, TMZ, UFC, Verizon FiOS TV, VEVO, and Vudo join in on the fun. And in early 2012, CinemaNow, HBO GO, MLB.TV, and Xfinity On Demand will become available to use on Xbox 360s. Soon, Microsoft’s four-year-old console is going to transform into a viable destination for nearly all of your entertainment needs. With all of these options to watch TV and movies and listen to music, playing games will suddenly become a just a part of what Xbox 360 is all about. Add in some refined Kinect voice and motion support and you’ll finally get a taste of what living in the future is really like. This dashboard update is certainly something to be excited about. Get your download on today by simply booting up your Internet-connected 360.

In related news, Microsoft has also outed the Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone users. The free app allows you to search the Xbox catalog for movies, TV shows, music, games, and apps right on your phone and view detailed content information. You can even pair your phone to your console and beam purchased content from one device to the other. Content playing from your 360 can be controlled via your phone (play, pause, rewind, fast-forward), and you can navigate the new dash using your phone’s touchscreen instead of a controller if you so desire. Download the free Companion app today.

Update: Microsoft has decided to share the wealth and offer a similar companion app for iOS users. iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch owners running iOS 4.3 or higher can install My Xbox LIVE. The free app allows you to log into your Xbox LIVE account to read and send messages to friends, manage your friends list, read and edit your full profile, customize your avatar, and view and compare your achievement progress with friends. Sadly, you won’t be able to search the Xbox catelog–this biggie is only available for Windows Phones for obvious reasons. Download the iOS edition at the App Store.

[Via MajorNelson 1, 2, 3, 4]

Google news: New Google bar, YouTube gets a new look, and the evolution of search

The folks at Mountain View are constantly working hard to bring new experiences to the Internet, as well as updating the ones we use most. You know that horizontal (recently painted black) navigation bar that rests at the top of every Google webpage, including the search homepage? Well, it’s going away to save screen real estate and unify all that Google has to offer. The new Google bar isn’t a bar at all, really. It’s comprised of three sections: Google menu, Search, and Google+ tools. All three of these sections will be found in the spot location across all of Google’s products. The Google menu is accessed by hovering your mouse over the Google logo in the left hand corner, saving you a click to reach Google’s other products like Images, Maps, and Gmail. Search sits in the top middle, and easy access to Google+ tools is on the right. Navigating Google, searching, and sharing links with friends is now a more streamlined and cleaner experience. The new Google bar is rolling out soon.

After months of testing a new layout dubbed “Cosmic Panda” Google has finally rolled out an updated look for YouTube. First off, the homepage is totally redesigned and built to be customized to your liking. To the left you’ll find a YouTube Channel line-up. If you’re signed in with a Google account the setup is like this: a list of your Subscriptions, including Google+ and Facebook social integration; From YouTube categories, including trending and popular videos; and Suggested channels for you. To add a channel to your list simply click the Add channels buttons up top to be directed to a listing of all video categories; subscribing to channels from there is a one-click process. Back on the homepage, when you click a channel from your line-up content will appear in the center of the page. Instead of navigating you to an entirely new URL, the new YouTube homepage keeps you in one place while you’re browsing content. Play a video and then you’ll be brought to the uploader’s channel so you can watch the video and comment on it. Speaking of channels, Google has updated those spaces as well with new templates and a sharper layout. And with inspiration from Cosmic Panda, Google has opted to stick with the trial’s consistent gray background, bigger video thumbnails, and a more streamlined watch page. The new YouTube is available to play with today; sign in with a Google account to customize.

Last, Google has produced an interesting video that tells the “short history of the evolution of search, highlighting some of the most important milestones from the past decade—and a taste of what’s coming next.” Watch it after the break. There you’ll also find videos highlighting the new Google bar and YouTube’s cosmetic transformation.

[Via Google 1, 2, 3] READ MORE Google news: New Google bar, YouTube gets a new look, and the evolution of search

Xbox.com undergoes cosmetic changes, promotes a “Social” landscape

Before the fall dashboard updates arrives to Internet-connected Xbox 360s, Microsoft flipped the switch on updating its Xbox website. The homepage has been revamped to feature content in the “Metro”-style layout that is coming to Xbox and with Windows 8. The “My Xbox” section of the website has been renamed “Social” and this is the new destination where gamers will go to login to their Xbox Live profiles away from the their consoles. The updated Xbox Live portal is organized in four categories. Home gives gamers a quick glimpse at their recent activity, their friends’ recent activity, online friends, messages, Xbox Live events and related news. Friends provides a list of all your Xbox Live friends, online and off. In Messages you can read and send messages to your friends. And in the Activity section you can view your recent activity, out of your friends who recently played the games you did, and you can view all of your played games, achievements, and gamerscore information. Also in this section you can set Beacons, a marker that notifies your friends that you want to play a certain game with them. You can have up to three Beacons active at a time, and you can add custom descriptions. For example, you can set a Beacon for Halo 3 and add a description like “Let’s play from 7-10 PM.” No matter where you navigate in Social, your avatar will follow you, as will links to view your account, redeem codes, add Microsoft Points, view your Download Queue, and visit your profile. In addition to updating the My Xbox section of the site, Xbox Live members can now browse, preview, and download media such as movies and TV shows in a browser and this content will be attached to your Live account; this means that all downloaded media can be viewed on any PC, Xbox 360, and Windows Phone that your Live account is connected to. Check out the new Social portal at Xbox.com right now!

[Via Xbox Forums]

Barnes & Noble announces Nook Tablet, updates and drops prices of Nook Color & Nook Simple Touch

Kindle Fire, meet your head-to-head competition. Today Barnes & Noble announced their latest e-reader, the Nook Tablet. On the outside, the Nook Tablet looks nearly identical to its predecessor the Nook Color. This time around, it’s almost entirely what’s on the inside that really counts. The Tablet is fast, packing a 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. The 7-inch multitouch screen (1024 x 600) displays 16 million colors ultra-bright and features full IPS lamination to reduce reflection and glare and offer extra-wide viewing angles and clarity. The display can play full HD 1080p content. Battery life is quite impressive, too. The Tablet offers up 11.5 hours of reading time or 9 hours of video viewing. There’s 16GB of onboard storage, and this can be expanded with an SD card. Built-in WiFi allows for web surfing and downloading books, magazines, newspapers, comic books, apps and other content. (Note that though the Tablet runs Android Gingerbread, users will not have access to the Android Marketplace.) It’s thinner than the Color weighing in at 14.1 ounces and it features a soft touch back design. A built-in microphone allows users to take advantage of the new Read and Record feature which allows parents to record narration and let their kids play it back when they’re reading their favorite stories. The newest Nook also sees an upgrade in entertainment selection. It comes preloaded with Netflix and Hulu Plus apps for movie and TV show selections (Flixster with UltraViolet is coming soon) and Pandora, Rhapsody, Grooveshark, and MOG are available for streaming music.

During their press event, B&N highlighted their Tablet’s advantages over Kindle’s Fire. In addition to featuring a better display with superior viewing angle, more than 2X the memory, a lighter design, more RAM, and better content rendering, Nook Tablet owners will also have the assurance that if they ever need product support they can visit a local Barnes & Noble store to resolve their issue. That is something Amazon sadly can never offer as it is strictly an e-tailer. The Nook Tablet is now up for preorder at $249 and it releases next week on November 18. That is a fat $50 more than the direct competition coming from Amazon, so be careful when you’re shopping this holiday season.

Besides announcing the Nook Tablet, B&N also took time to refresh and make cheaper their other e-readers. The new and improved Nook Color will ship with B&N’s “largest software update ever” that will bring Netflix, Hulu Plus, and music streaming apps to the device, as well as a refreshed library and enhanced shopping experience. The new Color ships this December at $199. Existing owners of the Color will automatically receive the update at no cost over WiFi next month. And finally there’s the tried and true Nook, now renamed the Nook Simple Touch. It will also come preloaded with a software update that will enable better battery life (users can read for up to 2 months for one hour a day). The update, which is now available for existing Nook owners to download, also makes the screen crisper and the page turn rate faster. The rebranded Nook Simple Touch is available to buy today at a low $99 with “no annoying ads.” Stings a bit, doesn’t it Amazon? Game on.

[Via Barnes & Noble] READ MORE Barnes & Noble announces Nook Tablet, updates and drops prices of Nook Color & Nook Simple Touch