The March firmware update for the Xbox One will do a lot more than improve party chat in advance of the launch of the system's big multiplayer March 11 game Titanfall. It'll also tweak a bunch of other things on the console.
Microsoft officials were kind enough to provide us with a list. We've numbered it for you and added some explanations and thoughts.
Note that some on the Kotaku team were able to start downloading this update early, but we've not had much time to test it. The download was about 400MB. It should be available for system owners this week or, at latest, very early next week.
- "Get to your friends list faster." Microsoft says you can now access your friends list from the homepage of the Friends app and can use a Social tile on the system's Home screen—or say "Xbox, go to friends" to see who is online.
- "Party chat on by default." Removing one of the stranger decisions Microsoft had made at launch, you will no longer have to manually turn on party chat after you join a party.
- "Chat with friends playing different games." Self-explanatory.
- "'Invite friends to game' option available in your multiplayer titles." File this under: they didn't have this already?
- "See a list of 'Recent Players.'" Very nice. You can easily re-connect with, friend or even report people you just played with through this list.
- "Twitch TV live streaming support." As previously-announced. Good stuff. Timed to the March 11 launch of a new Twitch app.
- "Dolby Digital sound." So technical, so let's just quote them on this one and hope it makes Kotaku audiophile Kirk Hamilton happy: "Optical out now supports 5.1 Dolby Digital, enabling devices such as sound bars and headsets with only optical in to be able to receive 5.1 Dolby Digital from Xbox One over optical. We're also adding support for Dolby Digital surround sound over HDMI. Now you'll be able to have the best sound quality no matter what speaker setup you are using. "
- "We will now support 50Hz output to Xbox One." This should mainly be of benefit to Europeans, they say.
- "Volume up/down adjustments." This is the first of some of the less noticeable changes Microsoft is now describing. This one lets you adjust how much your volume goes up or down each time you say "Xbox, volume up" or "Xbox, volume down."
- "New ways to stay connected with SmartGlass." The second-screen SmartGlass app made for phones and tablets will receive Xbox Live messages (no indication that you can send them) and will let you watch friends' gameplay clips. They're also saying you can tap SmartGlass to unsnap an app on your TV.
- "Support for new Xbox One accessories." They say: "Xbox One now supports the recently announced Xbox One stereo headset and adapter, Xbox One media remote with a dedicated OneGuide button, as well as third party headsets."
- "Browser improvements." They say: "When you're searching for content, there's now a direct link to IE to see related results on the web. New gesture and controller features let you directly zoom and pan Bing and Google maps. And search is even faster in IE – just highlight a phrase on a web page, and press the menu button to search Bing and learn more. "
- "IR blasting of power and volume to TVs/AVRs is now available in all regions."
- "Easy sound bar setup." They're removing the need to type in model numbers for "most sound bars or AVRs" while hooking them up to the console.
- "General improvements. Last, but not least, a few miscellaneous update the ability to view Game Clips while in Snap mode and a new passkey feature to protect user settings.
OK, that's a lot. What would you all like to see in the next update? Other than "play all my Xbox 360 games" which probably isn't going to be easy to do!