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Here's a quick look at Cortana on the Xbox One dashboard preview

The New Xbox One Experience (NXOE) is available to test for select dashboard preview members, bringing shades of Windows 10 with it.

A keen reddit user recently discovered that you can access Cortana on the NXOE using a hidden menu item. Cortana is currently slated to appear on the Xbox One in early 2016.

If you're still outside the preview, I've put together a video to show how she works on the new dashboard, although I thoroughly expect she'll work a little differently when she ships to testers properly.

If you're in the NXOE preview, you can access Cortana using the following steps:

  • Open the guide by double tapping the home button
  • Go down to the settings menu, and then put your cursor across to the main settings area.
  • Go to the top of the menu, then press up until the highlight disappears, this selects a hidden menu item.
  • Double tap A to snap Cortana, she'll then activate and will be able to receive voice commands.

Cortana is a direct port of her Windows 10 version, snapping in a familiar column. You use the joystick to cycle between elements that would normally be clickable, similarly to the Avatars universal app. She displays the same notebook cards that get synced to your Microsoft Account - in the video you can see my calendar and also weather for my hometown. As Cortana is a direct port, she sports actions items like "Open Calendar". Clicking on buttons that would usually boot apps opens a message box, asking you to search the Xbox Store for an associated app. Whether we'll see full access to the Windows 10 store on Xbox One remains a mystery, but the backend functionality for Universal Windows Platform apps is quite clearly there.

When she launches properly, you'll be able to use her to perform complex Xbox One actions like "Hey Cortana, record the last minute of gameplay and share it with my feed", or "Hey Cortana, is Daniel Rubino online?" The version available right now simply lays the groundwork. You can currently use her to IR blast the volume of your TV up and down via Kinect, and ask her to switch to TV using natural language. She doesn't yet know how to navigate the Xbox generally, or perform complex commands. Her native commands work, like asking her to tell you jokes or sing songs, but anything that is device-specific doesn't work as of yet.

Microsoft might block access to Cortana in the next update wave, so if you're a preview member and want to give her a tryout, consider it sooner rather than later.

The more we discover about the NXOE, the more Windows-like it appears to be. Universal Windows Platform apps run just as you'd expect, selectable with a joystick instead of a mouse cursor or touch. The Xbox One will eventually pick up mouse support as well, which could transform it into a comparatively cheap PC-like gaming and productivity suite, thanks to Office's universal apps.

One thing is for certain; exciting times are ahead for the Xbox One.

Check out our hands-on with the New Xbox One Experience

What do you think of the NXOE? Would you use productivity apps on your Xbox One? Let us know below!

Jez Corden
Jez Corden

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

38 Comments
  • Jez, I didn't find a way to open that *left* (in the NXOE) panel while I'm playing games. Help?
  • Double tap the xbox button and choose snap, the choose what you want to snap
  • Thanks mate, I meant the left one, in the NXOE. Double tap the home button as well?
  • Sorry misread that... The left pane is only in my games and apps section, nit when playing a game...or i cant fine it either...lol
  • Hmm the video might provide a better explanation matey, visualized.
  • I've played with her, pretty cool, I kinda liked the original Xbox one layout. I guess I'll get used to this new one
  • I liked it too really, I feel like there's quite a bit of empty space on this one, but its a work in progress I guess
  • The community section is getting fully redone also so I think that's a big part as to why it feels empty
  • i liked the old one but saw its shortcomings. The new one is a bit of a UX/UI mess. left to right tabs that each scroll vertically as well (MS Media Center team actually made comment on how this was actually a bad UI paradigm to follow b/c its confusing and difficult to navigate). Additionally, you have an overlay UI (the guide) and then on top of that you are switching in and out of apps frequently (including for basic system level features (aka launch the my games & apps app to switch to another app).   I personally would like them to get rid of the "dashboard" entirely. Keep the mini guide but add "all apps" and "pins" lists to it. It would stay overlayed whatever your game/app is running. Allow it to transition to a full guide (where the game/app running is put in a PIP sort of mode) and then allow for a Task View of sorts that allows you to adjust background (or snapped) volume) and also switch between all running apps. To keep some "dashboard" personalization, add a "lock screen" image for boot up. The lockscreen would prominantly display critical information (time, notification count, friends online, controller battery, users signed into console. The lockscreen image could also be used as a backdrop to the Task View.
  • Something I've wondered is if you have a Windows Phone and an Xbox One and say "hey cortana" aren't both going to respond? Seems like that could get annoying.
  • Set one to respond to a different prompt or just lock your phone lol. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • When I say "Hey Cortana" my Xbox, Surface and Lumia 930 all respond at once, it's a bit... lolz
  • Yeah they need to work a way around this. Whenever Im at my PC (and my phone is charging next to it) both of them respond to "Hey Cortana".
  • Why not have "hey Cortana"
  • Hey Cortana works :)
  • Exactly. Pointless until they give us quick access via controller button or Hey Cortana
  • Very excited.
  • "Hey, Cortana" feels super awesome to say to my Xbox.
  • Is it just me or are stories missing from the front page? I see them in RSS but not on the front page anywhere.  
  • S
  • It doesn't work in Canada. No, I'm not gonna change my region to USA because then I can't buy games.
  • You still can get it work by changing your region to US to activate cortana and then change your region back to Canada and cortana will still be activated
  • So one of my pet peeves is that the current xbox voice commands let you do almost everything except eject the disk (yes, I sent feedback... a few times). Can someone with the new experience enabled with Cortana please see if you can ask Cortana to eject the disk? Other than that, my biggest hope is that one can use "Xbox" and "Hey Cortana" interchangeably... I've been talking to my xbox for years this way and it'll take some time to get used to having Cortana do stuff on the xbox. Like others, I'm also hoping that there will be some intelligence regarding "Hey Cortana" so that I don't have 4 or more devices all within in earshot responding at the same time.
  • I think they just want you to "be there" for the disc when it comes out...won't it fall and get damaged? =[
  • The disc stays pretty snug in there during ejection - you still need to pull the final 1/3rd of it out. Honestly I don't get the need for a voice command. If you want to eject the disc, presumably you are already at the box anyway. At best you save yourself a few seconds by giving the voice command first, so it's already out by the time you are standing there. Maybe I'm missing a use-case for this where it really pays off. What I do envision is the worst-case scenario - Kinect hears you incorrectly and then ejects a disc mid-game. To prevent this, they could add a "Yes / No" prompt, but then that's another step added to this chain. That is my assumption as to why they will never add it.
  • I've heard that counterargument a few times, and it's somewhat valid. However, when you're done watching a bluray movie in a darkened room, it's really hard to see the front face of the xbox with the bright TV shining at you. If the eject button was backlit, I would be fine with no voice command, but it's not. I even considered buying the xbox one media remote, but there's no eject button on there either. Instead, I fire up the advanced menu in the bluray player app and move the cursor over the eject icon and press A on the controller. As for Kinect hearing you mid-game... it does that already for other things... like xbox go home, or xbox turn off... or xbox sign out... or xbox watch tv... or xbox go to bluray player... ALL of which interrupt gameplay. In my mind, they could make the eject command one that is only listened for by the bluray player app (like some other movie specific commands) and that way there will be no accidental ejects during gameplay.
  • I think my connection is absolute crap, she seems to have brain damage whenever I try to do anything...lol
  • I love Jez's accent :)
  • Why would you want to voice command to eject? As you have to get up and physically take the disc out anyway? It literally saves no time. Also who still uses discs?!!?? :)
  • As I responded to someone else who responded further up... I've heard that counterargument a few times, and it's somewhat valid. However, when you're done watching a bluray movie in a darkened room, it's really hard to see the front face of the xbox with the bright TV shining at you. If the eject button was backlit, I would be fine with no voice command, but it's not. I even considered buying the xbox one media remote, but there's no eject button on there either. Instead, I fire up the advanced menu in the bluray player app and move the cursor over the eject icon and press A on the controller. As for Kinect hearing you mid-game... it does that already for other things... like xbox go home, or xbox turn off... or xbox sign out... or xbox watch tv... or xbox go to bluray player... ALL of which interrupt gameplay. In my mind, they could make the eject command one that is only listened for by the bluray player app (like some other movie specific commands) and that way there will be no accidental ejects during gameplay.  
  • I want to see it usable when it is NOT pinned, assuming you currently cannot do so. 
  • The video has that too.
  • You should proably get an external hard drive soon :-P
  • Do the traditional "Xbox..." commands still work?
  • Yes
  • My app commands work with Cortana
  • I tried this out. My Windows 10 PC in the same room responded to my question of "What's the temperature?" with the correct answer, but my Xbox One said "I don't know what a temperature is." I don't think this is really working yet. It seems like a shell.
  • Am I missing it or is there really no quick shortcut available to get to My Games & Apps? I mean you have to scroll all the way down on the Home tab to see it. And before anyone asks, yes I am one of the losers without a kinect :(