Microsoft recently updated the Xbox 360 dashboard (December 6th, 2011). This update changed the look of the existing Xbox 360 dashboard and added new features such as Kinect support for either gesture or voice support. Still I didn’t see the new Hulu , Youtube or Fios TV apps, though they are coming soon. Still no additional codec support for mkv’s, why not Microsoft?
The Netflix application also received a huge facelift and for the most it is very well done. Now when you goto a movie or series it will show you similar titles or give you a rolling menu of all the episodes in the series, something that I love as I hated leaving the current title jsut to goto more episodes in the previous Netflix application. However not all is good with this. A huge downside to this is they removed the Netflix party option, something that my daughter and I loved as I would go downstairs to my Xbox and she would start a party and I would watch what she is watching. Also I noticed that there isn’t any option that I can see to stop a current video and go back to the beginning, though I may be missing something there.
Oh it also has Bing interaction, that’s right. Microsoft’s seach engine is now a huge part of the dashboard. You can either use this with your controller or Kinect voice support, very cool.
Another big change was the additional of social networking with Twitter, Facebook and even updating your status via “Beacons”, very helpful for letting your friends know what you’re playing.
Graphically the changes are a mixed blessing. Microsoft was going for a new look added at pulling in more casual gamers as well as positioning the Xbox 360 as a “Set-top Box” with all slick visuals and streaming structures. However they also incorporated ads, which is a huge put off, especially if you have a Xbox Live gold account. There is no reason for this to be in any paid subscription account.
All in all I’m satisfied with the dashboard update excluding the Netflix changes, though I’m curious to see what the rest of the Xbox 360 community thinks about the changes. Do you like them or do you hate them?