If you’re a gamer, you won’t have much use for the new Xbox UI. The UI, dubbed Metro, isn’t really about gaming at all. In fact, with all the new features and updates, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Microsoft seems to be side-stepping the gaming thing altogether. There’s no doubt that the Xbox 360 is nearing its final days, but many people may not have seen Metro coming. Instead of a UI that focuses more on gaming, Microsoft seems to be leaving the gaming space to Nintendo and PlayStation in order to focus on something else entirely.
Metro is really all about media. Rather than offering gamers something that they will find useful, Metro seems to be a streaming device disguised as a video game platform. Users can now access movies and other bits of entertainment through Metro, and the whole thing looks and feels like a media center. If a new media center is what you’re after, here’s what you can expect from Microsoft’s new Xbox interface: Metro.
The Look of the New Interface
The new Xbox interface is based upon the tile design. Users will see small tiles appear when searching for an item, and selecting an item will pull up additional (related) tiles. There’s nothing complex about this interface, but it’s not that exciting either. In fact, some will find this tile system rather dull, but I suppose the point is to access media quickly and without struggle. Speaking of accessing media quickly, there’s something else Microsoft has done to make the new Xbox UI easier for people to use.
The next UI comes with voice control. Now, just because I mentioned “voice control,” I don’t want you to leave this article thinking that Microsoft has found a way to mimic Siri on the Xbox. Instead of a voice control system that talks back to you (which is what Apple is rumored to be working on with the upcoming Apple TV), you simply speak to the Xbox console, and it will perform your commands.
For example, if you are watching a movie using the console and you ask it to “pause,” your movie will pause. So, you can toss your remote out the window (ok, don’t do that, but you get the idea). You can’t hold a conversation with your Xbox now, so please don’t try to do this. Still the idea of voice commands or control is a great one, but it’s not a good enough reason to rush out and buy a Xbox console if you don’t already have one.
Voices of the Future
Voice control will be, in my opinion, the wave of the future. Apple started this craze with Siri, and now lots of companies are seeking to add voice commands and control to devices. Microsoft is just the first in a long line of many companies that will eventually come up with voice-controlled devices. If you already have an Xbox and you want to upgrade to the new UI, this will be a cool feature to test out. If not, hold out for Apple TV or some other console that will make better use of artificial intelligence.