Microsoft unveiled their next generation console on Tuesday. In an event hosted at its Redmond, WA campus, Microsoft took the wraps off of the “Xbox One,” a new console designed to be an all-in-one entertainment console which features a heavy focus on interactive television viewing as well as video gaming.
The new console will utilize voice commands, gesture control via an updated Kinect controller, and a new feature called Instant Switching to allow users to switch back and forth between gaming, television, Skype, and other uses with commands that work as quickly as changing channels on a television.
The Xbox One will recognize individual users and will present to them a customized home screen filled with their favorite content, such as the last game they played, their preferred movies and television shows, music, and other recommended content. A new section, “Trending,” will display current friend activity and live television content.
Multiple items can be displayed on the television screen using a home screen sharing mode called Snap Mode.
The Xbox One can also respond to voice commands, much like what analysts have imagined the much rumored Apple TV with Siri integration might work. Commands such as “Watch CBS,” “Play a game,” or “Play music,” can be used to control the operations of the new console
The new console will include 8GB of RAM, an 8-core CPU, a 500GB hard drive, USB 3.0 ports, Wi-Fi, a slot-loading Blu-ray drive, and HDMI input.
A new Kinect sensor will be included with the Xbox One console. The new unit sports a 1080p camera, will support more casual voice commands than its predecessor, and Microsoft claims it will even be able to measure a user’s heart beat. (No word on if it can automatically call 911 if it detects a user about to go into full cardiac arrest while working out to Zumba.)
Microsoft has also improved its SmartGlass “second-screen” companion app for the Xbox, allowing smartphones and tablets like Apple’s iPhone and iPad to connect with the Xbox One, interacting with the new console in various ways.
A number of games were showcased at the event. They included Madden NFL 25, NBA Live 14, EA Sports UFC, FIFA 12, Forza Motorsport 5, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and Quantum Break, a new game from developer Remedy that blends television and gaming. (Shades of “full-motion video” of 16-bit gaming’s yesteryear.)
The Redmond firm announced 15 new exclusive games that will be available in the Xbox One’s first year, eight of which will be new franchises.
The focus on entertainment and television streaming abilities tends to position the device in the minds of many as a possible competitor to Apple’s current Apple TV set-top box, and the much rumored Apple Television, which the company is said to be developing. No specific details are available about such a device from Apple, but rumors continue to fly about the development of such a creature.