By Jonathan Charles | Oct 18, 2012 08:16 AM EDT
Microsoft's new dashboard update is live. Here are the features that we use and we like and, therefore, features like Bing Voice Search do not feature.
The immediate change users will see is the refined tiles. Tiles are now a darker green, large, and surrounded by a black border. While incremental, the update makes tiles easier to see and creates a distinctive look. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft updates the user interface in the next-generation dashboard and Xbox.
Additionally, falling in line with the Modern UI in Windows 8 and Windows Phone seems likely, given how Microsoft wants to create an integrated ecosystem.
However, looking beyond the updated design, Microsoft brings usability improvements. In our opinion, the two most interesting are Recent and Pins, both new to 2012's update. The reason for this update is that 2011's refresh had a common complaint that it was laborious process to play games, requiring multiple button presses and swipes to navigate through screen. Additionally, previously, the dashboard did not default to the home screen where in-tray games were displayed. This issue has been resolved now and the dashboard default to the home screen in the updated version.
Meanwhile, Recent shows the previous 10 games or services used, meaning that it is easier to access digital content often used. Pins allow users to stick content to the dashboard's home screen, creating a one-click launch. The result is gamers can access content quickly, avoiding the media content Microsoft likes to promote. The downside is just one square is for pinning content; a customizable screen, potentially full of pinned software, may be the next step.
Scroll to the right and users will see an Internet Explorer icon. Clicking this will download Internet Explorer (IE) 10, allowing full web browsing. Surprisingly IE 10 works well with a controller and loads web pages quickly, though likely will not replace smartphones, tablets, PCs, or laptops for heavier use. Calling the browser up while playing a game seems the ideal point, loading GameFAQs when wondering how to beat a boss, for example.
The Fall 2012 dashboard update releases Oct. 16.
© 2013 Mobile & Apps All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.