Shortly after revealing the new UI coming to Xbox, PC and Mobile, Microsoft began rolling out this update on consoles to Alpha Ring insiders. We've been able to spend several hours with the dashboard now and here's how it stacks up in some key areas.
How is the Xbox One dashboard's speed and functionality?
The first, and certainly most important, new change coming with this updated user interface is a massive increase to the overall speed and performance of the Xbox dashboard. Getting in and out of apps and games is wildly faster than previous builds.
Previously, apps or games would hang for several seconds before opening, but now getting to areas like My Games & Apps, the Microsoft Store, and Xbox Game Pass feels seamless. Quickly getting to and from the dashboard no longer feels like a sluggish crawl. This drastic boost to performance makes the entire Xbox experience feel tighter and more intuitive.
What is the Xbox One dashboard's appearance like? What about customization?
Those familiar with the previous Xbox dashboard will feel right at home here. Much of the core layout remains intact from previous iterations, but things are given a significantly more modern feel with rounded edges to icons across all areas of the UI. These rounded edges, along with the simple, clean aesthetic, add a nice sense of uniformity. It no longer feels as though we're jumping between distinctly different apps to navigate key features of the console.
For now, exciting features like Animated Backgrounds and Dynamic Themes are not available on the console build of this update, but we'll be sure to cover those features as soon as they become available.
With the Xbox One dashboard comes an updated Guide
The Xbox Guide has also received a snappy overhaul, making accessing key areas and features on your console faster than ever before. The bottom of the guide now has icons that quickly take the user to the most important areas of the console. Enhanced social features like "Happening Now" and "Friends in Games" allow for easier access to what your friends are playing and who they're playing with. Small details like these in your social tab eliminate some of the unnecessary steps previous dashboards struggled with.
One of my personal favorite enhancements to the guide is the heavily retooled Game Activity tab. Streamlined changes keep you in the game while providing quick glances at achievements, along with detailed tracking and community-centric sections like "friends who play," events, and Looking for Group. There are even some drastically improved options for sorting achievements for all you achievement hunters out there.
The new Microsoft Store is here
While we've previously covered the new Xbox Store and detailed some of the major changes implemented with this shopping refresh, it's important to reiterate just how much better the store feels. Navigating the different areas of the Microsoft Store is not only faster and more responsive, but is also more user-friendly in regards to layout and providing key information. The previous store frequently crashed and often required a force-quit to get back to the central hub, and that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Plus, having the option to hover over a game in the store to get pricing, release date, and even a trailer without leaving the main page drastically improves the flow of browsing for titles.
The updated store gives you quick access to key areas and features like your wish list and shopping cart with a clean side-bar. Browsing for and saving information on upcoming titles is a truly night and day experience compared to previous store updates.
New Xbox One dashboard: Our overall impressions
The Xbox One dashboard was in beta for almost an entire generation and some of the iterations players were introduced to were pretty rough. Thankfully, Microsoft and the Xbox design team have compiled years of data and community input to help shape a UI that delivers on the needs of its players. While there are certainly some changes and customization overhauls we've yet to see with the core Xbox dashboard, what we have now is easily the best and most responsive Xbox console experience in quite some time.
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