So if you’ve been playing offline with your Xbox (or maybe been living under a rock for a while), you might not have been introduced to the new Xbox Dashboard yet.
The previous Xbox dashboard was simple to navigate, but ultimately, all it really did was take you to your different menus and let you get straight to your games. The new dashboard functions as a multimedia center, tying in your social networking, media viewing, online multiplayer, and voice control functions into one, easy to navigate area.
Do you remember being able to send your friends requests in games? If you wanted to play a game with someone, some titles had the option to send people on your friend list a message asking them if they wanted to play with you. Beacons are a new way to let your friends know that you’d like to play.
You can set a beacon for your favorite games and you can look at your friends’ beacons to see if there are games they’d like to play.
No more messages to just one person or mountains of game requests for games you don’t even have, just an easy way to let people know what you’re up to and let them know that you want to hang out. Another thing the new dashboard does well is integrates your gaming experience with your social networking experience. Xbox now has several Facebook integrated features, allowing you to post your beacons and even your achievements to your wall or timeline.
Speaking of Facebook, the new dashboard has upgraded to support something we’ve all been waiting for a long time, the ability to download and utilize apps. Netflix, Facebook, and Zune were already previously available, but your Xbox 360 now supports an all-star lineup of applications for everything from music to movies to comics.
You can now send tweets through the Twitter app, check out your favorite shows and movies with the Hulu, Paramount Movies, and Amazon Instant Video apps, listen to our favorite tunes through Last.FM and iHeartRadio, and even check out the latest popular videos online with the YouTube app. As if you didn’t already have enough trouble tearing yourself away from your Xbox.
For Kinect users, all of these features are even easier to access and control with the new voice integrated features. A vast upgrade from the Kinect Hub that we got with our Kinects on launch, the entire system is more intelligent and able to recognize a much wider array of commands than ever before. You can now tell your box to load up games by their title or load up a certain show or episode.
With Gold, you can even watch live TV or search through the Xbox’s Bing search function, with just a voice command, you can search “Bing, Call of Duty” and have all of the CoD related material on the marketplace in one spot.
So if you’re playing on an older style dashboard, or even just aren’t taking advantage of the full function interface of your new dashboard, maybe now you’ll be inclined to enjoy all the features Microsoft has laid out for you.