Microsoft's first Creators Update features for Xbox One focus on Home, Guide, Copilot

More feature enhancements for the Xbox One are due before the Creators Update drops this spring.

It’s official: The first wave of Windows 10 Creators Update features is arriving on Microsoft’s Xbox One, complete with an updated Home screen, a faster Guide, and a rather awesome little Copilot Mode feature for playing with your kids.

After the PC and the phone, Microsoft’s Xbox One console is probably the most significant consumer platform in the company’s ecosystem. So it stands to reason that, after weeks to months of massive Creators Update changes for the PC and the phone, that they would finally arrive on the Xbox One.

Why this matters: Today’s update focuses more on the basic functionality of the Xbox One, with improvements to the interface. But that’s not all! As Microsoft has said before, other feature enhancements including Game Mode, Beam streaming integration, Arena, and more are all on their way. All of this serves to reinforce that the Xbox One is a thriving platform, ahead of the launch of its next-gen Project Scorpio console this holiday season.

Let’s take a look at what the new updates offer:

1. A new Home screen urges you to dive deep

The Home screen used by the current, stable Xbox One build as well as the new Creators Update UI both highlight the game you last played at the top of your Home screen. The latest update pushes you to explore related content, with more prominent references to the Game Hub, and encouragement to interact with your Club or go Looking for Groups.

Creators Update updated home xbox one Microsoft

The new Home screen for the Xbox One.

The UI’s speed has improved. Oh, and if you haven’t selected a custom background, the new Home screen will change your background with hero art of the current game.

2. A faster, more intuitive Guide

With one touch of the Xbox button, you’ll bring up the new Guide screen, shown here. The idea, according to Microsoft, is to access your recently played games and pins quickly, as well as the media controls for any music you might be playing.

Creators Update updated guide xbox one Microsoft

Microsoft promises its new Xbox One Guide will be both faster and more intuitive.

3. Better multitasking

One of the problems that Microsoft has had to wrestle with is allowing users to go as deep as they can into the Xbox One user interface, without taking them too far away from watching entertainment apps or playing games.

Creators Update achievement xbox one Microsoft

Microsoft’s Achievements, shown within its Guide.

Microsoft’s Creators Update compromise, shown here, involves one-button controls (press X or Y to record your gameplay). You get a new Achievements tracker to keep tabs on what you’ve accomplished or need to complete to receive your next Achievement. The left-hand nav bar will also provide quick access to music and screenshots.

4.) Cortana, your gaming buddy

Microsoft’s said previously that it will begin adapting Cortana on the Xbox One to become more of a gaming concierge. In the current update, you can set reminders and alarms to make sure you’re around to participate in the next Destiny raid, for example. More Cortana improvements are en route, as well as performance updates, the company said.

Creators Update cortana xbox one Microsoft

Microsoft has promised its Cortana digital assistant will become more useful for reminding you of upcoming gaming sessions, or just finding some new buddies online.

5. Updates that actually update your Xbox One

Unless you have your Xbox One configured to “Instant On” mode, the low-power Energy Saving Mode updates your console and games when you turn it on, turning a gaming session into a “let’s wait until your console downloads a gigabyte or two of updates” snoozefest. Those days appear to be over.

Creators Update system update xbox one Microsoft

Expect more detail within the Update screens on the Xbox One, too.

“Our goal with system updates is that you never have to worry about them again, and to make it clearer when a system update is available,” Microsoft said in a blog post. “To enable this we are updating the interface so the steps are easy to understand. We’re also going to enable every Xbox One owner to keep their console, games, and apps up to date independent of which power mode they have chosen.”

6. Copilot mode makes playing with your kids fun

Anyone who has played video games with a young child knows that sometimes they simply want to watch Mommy or Daddy play, rather than jump in themselves. With Copilot mode, you can ease your kids into playing the same way you’ll teach them to drive: by taking the wheel. Copilot Mode allows two controllers to act as one, presumably allowing you to let your child roam around Goat Simulator, for example, while manually steering them to the next challenge.

Creators Update ease of access settings xbox one Microsoft

Copilot mode isn’t just for playing with your kids, either—it’s part of better accessibility settings for those who may not be otherwise able to hold a controller.

7. Sweet new audio options

Microsoft’s hinted before that audio enhancements like Dolby Atmos will be supported, and now they are: the new settings will allow you to add Dolby Atmos for Home Theater, Dolby Atmos for Headphones, and Windows HRTF support to your streaming media application or game.

If there’s any drawback to the new Creators Update additions, it’s that not everyone will see them right away. Only a subset of Insiders will begin receiving the update today, Microsoft said. The remainder will receive the updates over the next few weeks. Microsoft hasn’t said when the Creators Update will be made available to the Xbox One community at large, but it seems reasonable to expect it sometime later this spring, about the time when PCs and phones receive it, too.

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Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
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