Next Xbox One system update for preview members ads a ton of cool features

Microsoft is rolling out an update to its Xbox One preview members in this next version and here’s a full list of what to expect.

Game DVR for PC games – The Game bar lets you record game clips of your favorite Windows games. With an upcoming Windows Insider update (build 10061 or higher), you will be able to record game clips for Windows PC games* using the new Game bar available on Windows 10. To bring up the Game bar, press Windows + G. Click the “Record that” button to save the last 30 seconds of gameplay, or just press Windows + Alt + G. Additionally, you can manually start and stop recording a game clip by clicking on the “Record” button on the Game bar or pressing Windows + Alt + R.

The length of a recording, including the maximum length, can be changed in Settings > Game DVR in the Xbox app. There are also a few key settings within the Game bar itself. Get started by turning on “Record game clips and screenshots” in the Xbox app.  Once enabled, there are options for background recording, video and audio quality. After enabling game DVR, you may need to sign out of Windows 10 and back in for the Game bar to appear.

  • Screenshots – Take screenshots of Windows PC games by pressing Windows + Alt + PrtScr. Just as with Game DVR, you can also do this by clicking the “Screenshot” button on the Game bar.
  • Live Tiles – The Xbox tile on your Windows 10 start menu can now welcomes you back, showing off your gamerpic and letting you know when you have new messages and activity alerts. To turn this on, go to Settings > General > Live tile.
  • Avatar app – A new app is available in the Windows Store to customize your Xbox avatar’s appearance and outfit your avatar with a vast collection of items. In the Xbox app, click the icon for your profile or your friends’ profiles to see their Xbox avatar. You can download the Avatar app from the Store on Windows 10. Also, there is a new Avatar sub-forum on the Xbox Feedback site, here.
  • User profile – You can see another gamer’s bio, location, reputation, tenure, and other information in the more info page, including their animated avatar. You can also view their showcase items, including favorite achievements or game clips they added to their profile on their Xbox One.
  • Real name sharing – Similar to the features we brought you in the March update on Xbox One, you can now choose to share your real name on the Xbox app with all of your friends or with everybody. Click on the “…” at the top of your profile page, then choose Name sharing settings to view and update these settings.

In addition to keeping you connected to your games and friends, we’re giving you even more control over the Xbox experience on Windows 10.

  • Xbox One Now Playing and media controls The games and apps you’ve used most recently on your Xbox One are now displayed when you connect the Xbox app to your console. You can also use the Xbox app to pause, fast forward and rewind.
  • Live TV streaming and PIP (picture in picture) support – For preview members with an Xbox One Digital TV Tuner (in 16 European countries and Australia) or a Hauppauge 955Q TV Tuner (available in the U.S. or Canada) attached to their Xbox One, you can now stream live TV within your home from your Xbox One to Windows 10 PC running the Xbox app. This feature is also available in Xbox One SmartGlass on Windows 8 PCs, Windows Phone 8, iOS, and Android devices.  The OneGuide on mobile devices now also provides PIP (picture in picture) support, so you can continue to stream and watch TV while you are using the OneGuide.
  • Xbox controller drivers – The drivers for Xbox controllers are now included with Windows 10, so you no longer have to download and install controller drivers on Windows 10.

The Xbox app will automatically update to the April preview version when it becomes available in the Windows Store. Once you receive the update, your version number should be 4.4.9014.0 or higher. You can verify the version number of the Xbox app in Settings.

Xbox One and SmartGlass updates

The Xbox team continues to work hard to bring the many fan-requested features on the Xbox Feedback site to Xbox One and Xbox One SmartGlass, with the following items being available to preview members this month:

  • Over-the-air TV for the U.S. and Canada – Earlier this month, we announced the preview for an Over-the-Air Tuner for the U.S. and Canada.  With this preview update to Xbox One, a new screen has been added after the initial channel scan to show a sorted list of channels and channel logos so you can tell what channels you receive. You can also choose to scan again from this screen, if you want to move your antenna and give it another try.
  • Power on and off from Xbox One SmartGlass – The beta versions of the Xbox One SmartGlass apps for Windows, Windows Phone and Android will be updated to let you turn your Xbox One on and off. (Your device does need to be on the same home network as your console.) This feature request has more than 4,000 votes on the Xbox Feedback site. The beta versions can be found in the respective stores by searching for “Xbox One SmartGlass Beta.”
  • Wireless Display appWith more than 2,000 votes, Miracast support will be enabled on Xbox One for preview participants later this week, so you can mirror the experiences on Windows PCs (for example, Surface 2, 3, or 3 Pro; Lenovo X1 carbon; Dell Venue 8), Windows Phone 8, and some Android devices (e.g. Samsung S5, Nexus 7, Motorola Droid) that support non-protected Miracast connections. Try the Wireless Display app to cast photos stored on your phone to your Xbox One, or to stream non-protected video content from your PC to your Xbox.
  • User-selectable power mode – The team here at Xbox is also altering the initial setup experience on Xbox One worldwide to enable you to select your preferred power mode. Instant-on enables you to use the “Xbox on” voice command and receive background updates to console, game and app updates. Energy-saving mode is a low power state that requires you to press the Xbox button on your console to start up your Xbox One. For additional information, see this post on Xbox Wire.
  • Voice messages – The ability to send and receive voice messages from the Xbox One messages app continues in preview this month. Also, the ability to create a voice message while in a party chat will be enabled and support will be added for third party headsets.

This update will soon be live and for those of you  running the Windows 10 preview it’ll be even more interesting as Microsoft loads up the Xbox app with features.

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft Band gets new capabilities in preparation for Apple Watch launch

microsoft-bandTime is ticking and Apple is about to launch its hot new Apple Watch that’s been available for pre-order for a couple of weeks now. This has enticed Microsoft to push its own wearable device, Microsoft Band, and associated service Microsoft Health to new levels as competition in this space is about to get very hot.

Today Microsoft has announced a large software update for its fitness tracker and accompanying online services. As part of this update, Microsoft Band will be able to integrate with third-party cycling apps such as MapMyRide and Strava which will allow cyclists to compare their ride data with others and share routes. This feature is expected to roll out this Thursday, April 23rd.

“Customers want even more integration with additional third party fitness partners,” says Matt Barlow, a Microsoft general manager, in a statement. “We know they have existing relationships with other apps, services and devices outside of Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band, and they’re looking for new ways to integrate their data, ensuring it will all live and work together in one single spot.”

Microsoft Health smartphone app will also be available to those who don’t currently own a Microsoft Band fitness tracker, Microsoft said. By connecting to native phone sensors, Microsoft Health will be able to function, although in a more limited capacity, on Android phones, iPhones as well as Windows Phones. This exciting new capability will be available in the coming weeks as Microsoft looks to broaden the overall Microsoft Health platform and make it available to a wider audience.

Microsoft Health Web Dashboard service is getting some new features as well. The update, scheduled for April 27th will allow users to compare their exercise stats with others of similar height and weight. The update will also enable tracking and processing of additional data such as sleep recovery, fitness progress, oxygen volume used during exercise, and detailed historical stats for advanced analysis of run and workout data over time.

Source: GeekWire

Microsoft to open its first retail store outside North America later this year

microsoft store

Microsoft has been steadily expanding its retail presence in North America and now has 110 brick and mortar stores across the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. The significance of physical Microsoft stores is ever more apparent as it expands its hardware portfolio with new products. It’s worth noting that Apple is also continuously expands its retail presence and now has 450 stores worldwide, with 260 of them in the US alone.

With that in mind, it’s vital that Microsoft’s products are showcased and presented in the way Microsoft intends for them to be in other parts of the world as well, and that’s why the software giant plans to open a new store in Sydney, Australia.

This marks the first time that a Microsoft store is being built outside of North America, and hopefully it’s a signal of more to come. This new Sydney store will be located at Westfield Sydney on Pitt Street Mall and is scheduled to open later this year.

Microsoft will have more hardware to showcase and sell than ever before by the time Windows 10 is released, with the newly announced Surface 3, and the much-anticipated Surface Pro 4 sure to be joining the ranks.

We can also expect to see some Surface Hubs to be at physical retail stores in the near future. In addition to all of the Surface products, there will certainly be a slew of new Windows phones which will include flagship models later this year, and we certainly hope to see the new HoloLens at Microsoft stores when that’s released. If that doesn’t draw a crowd than we don’t know what will.

Microsoft is definitely making first-class innovative hardware these days, and having physical stores is the perfect way to show-case their hardware.  With Microsoft working on making more hardware these days it may be a sign of things to come to many more countries around the world.

Microsoft will push new build of Windows 10 mobile to phones this Friday (list here)

windows-10-for-phones-video-demoMicrosoft’s Gabe Aul was a guest today on the Twit network’s Windows Weekly podcast, and during the show he has confirmed that the next build of Windows 10 mobile preview for Windows Phone will be pushed out this Friday at 10AM PT (1PM ET).

Microsoft posted a list of Lumia devices set to receive the update, and although pretty much every handset made the cut, the absence of the Lumia Icon and 930 was a little concerning. Today, Gabe Aul has just confirmed that this release of the Windows 10 mobile preview will indeed not make its way to the Lumia Icon/930 but the rest of the Lumia device on the list will receive it.

This release is set to bring in some new features and apps to the OS and Microsoft will soon have a blog post ready detailing the changes in this new build.

See the full list of devices set to receive the update

Source: Windows Weekly

 

Xbox One April System Update brings Party Chat improvements, What's On & more

Xbox One system update for the month of April is now rolling out to all users. This update contains improvements to party chat, addition of game hub links as well as What’s On for users in the U.S., U.S., Canada, and the UK.

Voice messaging and dedicated servers for party chat will remain in Preview mode until Microsoft fine-tunes the back-end systems.

Here is the full breakdown of what’s included in this system update:

  • Party chat improvements – Over the past few months, we’ve added additional icons and notifications within the party chat experience to help you understand your connection and microphone status. This month, party chat is being improved with troubleshooting guidance for Xbox One owners. The party app will help you get your microphone enabled and show you when privacy settings or networking issues are blocking communication with particular party members.
  • Game hub links – In February, we introduced game hubs where you can be the first to get news on upcoming updates, featured game clips, behind the scenes content and more. With this update, you can more easily discover game hub content from activity feed items. You’ll see activity feed items when any of your friends follow a game, and you’ll also be able to get back to a game’s hub from activity feed posts related to the game – including feed items about the game’s achievements, game clips and screenshots. Finally, we’ve added a link to game hubs from the game’s page in the achievements app.
  • Achievement notifications – Achievement notifications today display the achievement name and the gamerscore you just earned. With tonight’s update, you’ll also see the achievement’s description in the notification so you know what you did to earn this achievement without having to open the achievements app.  Based on feedback from preview program members, we increased the time that an achievement notification is displayed and we also made some performance improvements to make loading the achievements app from a notification faster.
  • What’s On – The What’s On area is now available for Xbox One users in the U.S., Canada, and the UK. In it, you’ll find links to popular videos, games, movies, TV shows, game broadcasts and clips, along with Trending TV shows if you have configured OneGuide for your Xbox One console.

Source: Xbox Wire

Surface 3 has arrived, and here are all the details

surface3 1Microsoft has just announced a new member of the Surface family, and it’s aimed to be a big successor to the Surface 2 but it’s actually a lot more like the Surface Pro 3. Surface 3 is basically a low cost Surface Pro 3 which brings Microsoft’s mantra of productivity to a much wider audience and is aimed to effectively replace your laptop.

A Lower cost Surface Pro 3

When you first lay your eyes on this device, it looks nearly identical to the Surface Pro 3, with the 3:2 screen aspect ratio, Windows logo on the right side of the device (in portrait mode) and a magnetic strip at the base of the keyboard giving it that sturdiness when using it to type on your lap that we’ve come to love about the Surface Pro 3. There’s also an addition of a Surface Pen and a new track-pad which look identical to that of the Surface Pro 3 offering.

So What’s Different?

Screen

Upon a closer look, you’ll begin to see where it loses its “PRO” title. First off, the screen is much smaller coming in a 10.8” when comparing to the Surface Pro 3’s 12-inch display, and tops out at 1920×1280 (3:2) which puts it at 214PPI. In comparison, the Surface Pro 3 sports a 2160×1440 display which is much sharper, but due to being larger at 12-inches its pixel density is nearly identical at 216PPI. Both use the same Clear-Type technology in their respective displays, so you know the color output will be fantastic.

The 3:2 aspect ratio is a good departure from the 16:9 aspect ratio on the Surface 2 which made it backward to use in portrait mode.

Camera

Surface 3 will have a 3.5 megapixel 1080p front-facing camera and an 8.0 megapixel 1080p rear-facing camera with auto-focus.

Hardware

Surface 3 has some notable improvements compared to the Surface 2, one of them is the kickstand which gets better with every iteration of the Surface devices. Surface RT had one kickstand position, Surface 2 had two positions, and Surface 3 has…wait for it….three! The third position will angle it pretty low and is probably more than enough for a device in its class. We have to say that we’re surprised Microsoft didn’t build the same kickstand technology in the Surface Pro 3 – but this is where the cost cutting comes into effect.

surface 3 kickstandSurface 3 has a shiny new steel looking logo. Yes, and it’s not a Surface logo, it’s a Microsoft logo. This is an important shift for the company going forward as it begins to consolidate all of its brands under One “roof”, further enforcing the “One Microsoft” vision and it’s a vital step in building the Microsoft brand. This is something that will be happening with more devices from Microsoft.

surface 3 rearFanless but still a PC

Looking at Surface 3 more closely reveals an important factor, and that’s the absence of the air vents around the device due to it being fanless, and because of this, it officially earns the title of being the thinnest and lightest Surface model ever made at 8.7mm and 622grams (1.37lbs). Surface 2 measured in at 8.89mm thick and weighed 676 grams.

The absence of a cooling fan in the Surface 3 is due to a new chip-set which is a first of its design and the latest mobile system on a chip (SoC), the “Cherry Trail” Atom x7. Don’t be alarmed that it’s an Atom-bases processor because this chip-set is supposed to offer great performance.

Microsoft chose to opt-out of using the Core-M processor which many ultra-portable machines are starting to use these days and they say it’s for a good reason. According to Thurrot.com, this new chip-set offers much better battery performance than its Core-M counterpart and because it’s so tiny, the device can be even thinner and lighter than what’s possible with Core-M.

Ports

This area is pretty much the same as the Surface Pro 3 which features all of the essential ports you’d expect on an Ultrabook PC. It comes with a full-sized USB 3.0 slot, a mini DisplayPort for Video Out, a headset jack, and of course a micro SD card slot under the kickstand.

surface 3 chargerHowever, this time around the power jack uses a micro-USB type connector for which plugs in to the device. This is a really big change because you can now use pretty much any micro-USB charger to charge the device if you forget to bring the official Surface version. One thing to note is that the one Microsoft provides with the Surface 3 will be more powerful than your typical charger, but they’ll still get the job done…just a little slower.

Type Cover

There will be a new Type cover keyboard, obviously now that the aspect ratio is different and for improvement reasons. This new type cover will support the dual positions with the use of the magnetic strip at the base of the keyboard just like the Surface Pro 3’s keyboard. The track-pad is also vastly improved when comparing to the Surface 2’s Type cover track-pad and will be made out of the same material as the one on the Surface Pro 3. It’s also supposed to be more accurate than the one on the Surface Pro 3, which is intriguing.

surface 3 keyboard

For those of you curious, yes, older Surface keyboards will work with the Surface 3 and even the larger type covers used on the Surface Pro 3 will too. However, they won’t be as aesthetically pleasing to the eye with a size difference.

Color options are as always fantastic, as this time around there will be an extra two colors to choose from. Light blue and light orange are the new colors and there will of course be the traditional options such as black, cyan, red and purple.

Oh, and a Type cover keyboard will as usual come at a separate cost of $129.99. Nothing new here.

Surface Pen

surface 3 penMicrosoft is doing something new with this line of non-pro Surface devices, and that including the functionality of a Surface Pen and of course giving you the option to buy one separately for an additional $49.99.

Although they will come in different colors to match the new type cover keyboards, it’s identically the same pen that’s included with the purchase of the Surface Pro 3.

 

 

 

 

Docking Station

surface 3 docking station2As if that isn’t enough, Microsoft will also have a new docking station ready build specifically for this device. It looks pretty much identical to the one for the Surface Pro 3 and will give you an extra mini Display Port, an Ethernet port and four USB ports (two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0). It’l also charge the Surface 3 continuously with a 48W wall charger. Microsoft hasn’t mentioned the price for the docking station but we expect it to cost the same as the one for the Surface Pro 3 which goes for $199.99.

surface 3 docking station1Pricing & availability

Surface 3 is currently available for pre-order in 26 markets with shipping dates slated for May 5th at microsoftstore.com. Additionally, on April 1st all Microsoft retail stores will have Surface 3 devices on hand to try out.

  • $499: 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage
  • $599: 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage
  • $599: 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage with LTE
  • $699: 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage with LTE

Type Cover $129.99

Surface Pen $49.99

Should you buy a Surface 3?

The Surface Line of devices are how Microsoft wants to represent Windows and are what they consider the perfect blend of hardware and software. When it comes to hardware and design, there’s no question about it, these line of devices have proven time and time again to excel in build quality and have become design icons. Nothing has changed in this regard, which is a good thing. Microsoft is committed to Surface and has been incredible at supporting them, which is something that that you get when you buy from the mother-ship.

These are the things you can expect when you buy a Surface device, and if you choose to do so, the pricing can get a little tricky. If you go all out and buy the top of the line version with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage with the LTE option, a keyboard and Pen, it would cost you $880. Choosing to opt out of the LTE feature will drop the price to $780. When you consider this, it’s actually very close to the price of an entry level Surface Pro 3 which will give you a more powerful CPU, and a larger screen. It’s definitely something to consider.

Either way, Surface 3 has a place in the market and we definitely think it’s a smart move on Microsoft’s part to pitch it as a laptop replacement and offer it at lower price points than the Pro models. This opens up the doors to a much wider audience. A new lower spec’d Surface can be a hit amongst students and people not willing to drop $1,000 on a laptop, while retaining the iconic design and build quality associated with the Surface line of devices. This is what the Surface 2 should have been, but it took three tries to get it right with Surface Pro, so why not three tries with its younger brother.

Best Buy offers a free Lumia 635 with Xbox One Halo: TMCC bundle for only $349.99

Nokia-Lumia-635-PhoneHero_InvariantCulture_DefaultBest Buy is offering a pretty incredible deal this week which is hard to pass up. As of now, you can purchase a 500GB Xbox One bundled with Halo: The Master Chief Collection and a no-contract Lumia 635 tied to AT&T for only $349.99. You can of course unlock the device if you choose to use it with another carrier.

Just the Xbox One deal with Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a fantastic deal, but a free Lumia 635 is like a cherry on top. Even if you’re planning on sticking around with your existing smartphone, having a spare Lumia 635 is a great MP3 player replacement and can even be used a standalone offline turn-by-turn GPS thanks to the Here maps app.

It’s a fantastic budget smartphone on it own with a 4.5 inch display and is running Windows Phone 8.1 and will be updated to Windows 10 later this year.best buy lumia 635To use this promotion, simply go to this Best Buy page and follow the instructions and add the Xbox One bundle and the Lumia 635 to your cart. You’ll notice that it will be priced at $0.00 when you check out and shipping will be free on both items.

Source/Image credit: Neowin

Microsoft releases two Halo 5: Guardians trailers, game to be released October 27, 2015 #HUNTtheTRUTH

halo-guardians-spartan-lockeMicrosoft has recently published two very interesting trailers, with alternate endings for the upcoming Xbox One shooter game Halo 5: Guardians. The trailers are latest in 343 Industries’ viral marketing push for the game, called “#HUNTtheTRUTH”.

In the first trailer, we see Spartan Locke roaming around in a destroyed city talking about how Master Chief betrayed the human race. Near the end of the clip, Locke finds Master Chief, wounded on the ground in front of a large statue of himself. Locke is getting ready to execute Master Chief and as he points the gun towards him says sarcastically, “all hail the conquering hero, the one who’s supposed to save us all, but now I must save us…from you.”

The second trailer, shows an alternate ending to the story where the roles have reversed and Master Chief roams the ruins of the large city and finds Spartan Locke wounded on the ground, in front his statue. The clip ends with Master Chief preparing his gun to finish off Locke as he says “you’ve completed your mission, Spartan Locke, mine is just beginning.”

Both trailers confirm the much-anticipated game will be released on October 27, 2015.

Trailer #1

Trailer #2

Source: Microsoft/YouTube

Microsoft targets a massive list of Lumias to run the next build of Windows 10 for phones

windows-10-for-phones-video-demoWhen Microsoft released the Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones last month, the list of devices that were able to run this build were abysmal, and making many enthusiast upset. However, the build wasn’t too stable anyways, so it may have been for the best as installing it on newer and more expensive devices could have proven to be an unpleasant experience.

According to a post by Gabe Aul, Microsoft is ready to roll out the Windows 10 Technical Preview on a vast amount of Lumia devices. We still don’t have a release date on when this build will be available, but we expect it to be soon. Below is the list of the devices set to receive this update, and that’s of course for Windows Insiders only.

We still highly recommend that for those of you planning on installing this build on your Lumia device, that you install it on a secondary handset, as it will most likely not be ideal to run on a handset you rely on.

Here’s the list below. It’s also worth mentioning that this list could change depending on how Microsoft feels about the stability of the Windows 10 preview for each device.

Lumia 1020
Lumia 1320
Lumia 1520
Lumia 520
Lumia 525
Lumia 526
Lumia 530
Lumia 530 Dual Sim
Lumia 535
Lumia 620
Lumia 625
Lumia 630
Lumia 630 Dual Sim
Lumia 635
Lumia 636
Lumia 638
Lumia 720
Lumia 730
Lumia 730 Dual SIM
Lumia 735
Lumia 810
Lumia 820
Lumia 822
Lumia 830
Lumia 920
Lumia 925
Lumia 928
Lumia ICON
Microsoft Lumia 430
Microsoft Lumia 435
Microsoft Lumia 435 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 435 Dual SIM DTV
Microsoft Lumia 532
Microsoft Lumia 532 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 640 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Source: Microsoft