I’ve had my XBox One out and “usable” for less than a day at this point. Sure, it arrived on Friday, but I’m not a kid anymore… it took a few days for it to make it from the “unbox” on the dining room table, to the table by the couch in the living room, then finally mind-melding with the entertainment system. After that, my Sunday afternoon was spent talking to my TV with my understanding wife only occasionally coming in to tell me to stop yelling at the TV.
Anyway, after a day, I already think it’s extremely cool and definitely a “game changer;” however, I do have some notes…
Better Mute Controls and Volume Controls
I love the ability to “snap” different apps onto the sides of things. Over the weekend, I tested watching football with the ESPN and NFL apps snapped onto the side and it was pretty cool. However, sometimes whatever is on the main screen just needs to be quiet. For instance, this morning, I tried the Music app and started listening to the new Arcade Fire album. Then I thought, it would be cool to have MSNBC running on the larger screen, then have the music snapped to the side, which I could easily do, but then it got weird.
Sure, Arcade Fire can be some nice background music (and some great foreground music, naturally), but it makes for a horrible soundtrack for the talking heads on MSNBC. In reality, I just wanted to see the video and listen to the music, but when you tell the XBox One to “mute,” it mutes everything because it uses the mute controls in the receiver.
I haven’t even tried playing games yet, but I would imagine that it would be nice to mute a game while you’ve got some tunes going on off to the side, but it looks like you’ll have to do that with the in-game sound controls rather than just muting everything.
Speaking of volume, I dig that I can turn the volume down using voice commands… I hate that it’s one level at a damn time. Let me say, “Turn down volume by 50%” or something like that and stop making me repeat myself. Or, at the very least, let me just repeat the “volume down” part without making me say “Xbox!” again. I know you can usually chain commands together as long as the Xbox is listening, but repeating certain commands doesn’t seem to work.
Easy fix guys…
A Native Twitter App That I Can Snap
The connection between Twitter and TV is well documented. The fact that there wasn’t a Twitter app at launch, I can forgive. However, when whatever team at Twitter or Microsoft is working on the next round of apps, a native app that you can just snap on to the screen while you’re watching TV that would allow you to see all the chatter for a specific hashtag would be awesome. Can you imagine, watching the AMAs last night and then having Twitter running off to the side to catch all the cattiness? Epic stuff here guys…
A “Siri” Like Ability To Search
Look, I know… Apple is Apple and Microsoft is Microsoft, and you two don’t play well. Hell, this morning I just heard that Apple bought the company that designed the Kinnect for Microsoft, so I know things are going to be pissy for awhile.
That said, the voice commands need to get a little wider in their scope. I dig being able to move around the interface and have only had a couple of instances where I switched back to the remote to get what I want. However, sometimes the voice thing gets a little old when you’re trying to dig a little deeper into the action.
For instance, when I was watching TV on Sunday, it would be amazing to go into the OneGuide and say, “Find the Packer game!” instead of paging down over and over again until I found what channel the game was on. Last night, when my wife came in so we can watch the AMAs, I would have blown her mind if I could have just said, “Switch to the American Music Awards,” rather than… “Hold on, honey… let me find the channel.”
If the power over the box is in my voice, then let’s stop with the baseline stuff and get it smarter a lot faster.
Skype As A Snap App
I just discovered this… why the hell can’t Skype be “snapped” onto the right hand side of the screen? I would probably keep Skype open all the time if I could have it snapped on the right when I was watching TV or playing a game or whatever. My niece loves to Skype and I’m dying to show her how the new setup looks (it’s pretty cool, you can see the entire family now without having to do the goofy “porthole” squeeze in thing), but I guess we’ll have to stick with just trying to catch each other when we can.
Help Me Ditch All The Remotes
Man, once I got the TV, the receiver, the cable box, and the Xbox all talking to each other properly (the TV was stubborn at first), the first time I was able to do an “Xbox On!” or “Xbox Turn Off!” and have everything turn on or off at once, it was a great day.
However, while I know the Xbox One is trying to be the center of the universe, until I can play my extensive record collection on it, I’m going to have to keep the remote for the receiver out. Plus, while I haven’t even tried the experience out just yet, I can imagine that I’m going to need to get the DVR remote out to watch my recorded shows.
Ditching the remote for the TV was a start, but let’s keep this rolling. Put the damn universal remote companies out of business and let me friggin do everything. Hell, why stop there? Let’s see some apps for home automation and so on start showing up soon so I can put the house into “theater mode” on movie night.
Look Microsoft, I know you’ve probably got a bunch of teams working on the next version of Windows or Office or whatever, but screw them… nobody really gives a crap about what you do with the new version of the “ribbon,” they want to see the Xbox do some really cool stuff… and then need it right now.
I’ll be over here, yelling at my TV…