I am in the minority. I know this. Most people start up their Xbox and jump into a game, sometimes with, or without, friends and might even look if a friend is online before hand. But straight to games, YouTube or that sweet, sweet, 4K Netflix they go.
If you are that person, the type who hates the Mixer and Activity tab on the top of the dashboard, then this post is not for you. The Xbox plays games and Netflix very well, of that I am certain. You load up a game, and you play it. Not much more is going on there.
But there are others, those that join clubs, take and share screenshots, wrestle with their friends over the monthly achievement leaderboard, and just end up using the whole social aspect of Xbox. After all, what good is playing with your friends, if you can’t show off?
As this is an improvement post, there needs to be things to improve. And trust me, there is a lot to improve about Xbox. From the original Windows 8 Dashboard to the NXE (New Xbox Experience), the whole system has left a lot to be desired. And the possibilities are endless. After all, its made by one of the biggest and best software companies in the world…
Lets dive in. The first thing you see is your home screen, your dashboard. Oh, the things that could be done here. On startup, there is a few things I would like to see. Which of my friends are online, whos playing what game, what is my closest achievement in my last played game, and of course, my last played game. So, you know, I can jump right in. Windows has these amazing things, called Live tiles. You may not know about them. I have only mentioned them once or twice. And they would be perfect for the Xbox dashboard.
Your most recently played game could have a tile. It flips over to show you your last saved state, the last achievement you unlocked, how close you are to the next achievement, the last screen shot you took, stats about the game – ANYTHING! Its practically a blank canvas that the devs can do what ever they want with it. When seeing this tile, what information would make you want to jump back into the game? That is what could be shown.
Right, I will pause here for a bit. I realize not everyone has the same fanatical obsession with live tiles as I do. But just think – its a shortcut that is showing you extra contextual information. And just like Windows 10, you could turn it off, if thats more your jam.
Speed. Everyone loves a speedy dashboard. A quick to launch home screen. The woosh of tabs fling by as you make your way to the Store. Sadly the dashboard is not speedy. Even on the Xbox One X. The reason is very simple. Its a glorified webpage. Of all the ways to hobble your console, making the primary interface a webpage has got to be up there with the most idiotic decisions ever. Hopefully Xbox Scarlet and Anaconda will fix this issue, but I am not holding my breath.
Screenshots, achievements, clubs joined, friends made and even a status update all await you on the Activity feed. And this is the part of the Xbox experience I really enjoy. Apart from games of course. I like seeing the cool screenshots my friends have taken, the epic goal they just scored and hit the Record That button, and the random updates they decide to post. This makes Xbox feel more like a social network celebrating the love of games, than just a disk in console game machine. But again, its just not fast. And I have fibre now, so the internet is no longer an excuse. It’s just slow. Slow to open screenshots. Slow to like and comment. Slow to buffer. Slow to scroll.
I would like the activity feed along with recent played games to be my home dashboard. I can see my games, I can see my friends, all at a glance. And the nice thing is that all goes away when I jump into a game and get immersed in a great story. When I come out, I can easily see what I may have missed without having to actively look for it.
These are just the first three things I would look at improving. And you may have noticed a complete lack of mockups or concept designs. This is for a very good reason. I am no wizard with the Photoshop. So the designs in my head will stay there for now. And in my head, they are glorious.
What would you change, update, redesign, throw away, keep or improve with the Xbox experience?
Bonus round – I’d bring back Kinect. That was the freaking future! I am still so bitter about that… Oh, and don’t even get me started on the Xbox app!