Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, ended the Xbox E3 press conference with a teaser about a new user interface coming to the Xbox One shortly. He mentioned that users should expect more details during the week about the specifics of the new interactions and user flow. Well, it looks like the Xbox team would rather continue their relentless barrage of news rather than allow their competitors to steal any unnecessary momentum. During a roundtable discussion, Xbox evangelist Larry Hryb sat with another member of the Xbox team, to walk users through the new update. As Windows 10 news became more abundant, many Xbox users were hesitant in their anticipation, expecting there to be a plethora of Windows 10 influences to appear on the Xbox. Fear not, the UI is much more streamlined and takes some influences from Sony’s minalmalistic approach.
However, the most impressive feature discussed today, was the appearance of Cortana on the Xbox. In a weird turn of events, the infamous Halo assistant will make her real-life presence on the console coming soon. For those who invested in the Kinect hardware, their foresight will soon be rewarded with the Windows 10 personal assistant. Enabling the voice assistant will be a similar experience as it is on Windows Phones now and in the Windows 10 Insider Preview. Users will be able to use the command, “Hey Cortana” to bring up the personal assistant while navigating, in-game, and using other functions of the console.
The Xbox and Windows teams are dedicated to bringing more natural language inputs to the voice assistant, in order to minimize voice related hiccups during a user's entertainment. The Xbox team included the example, “Hey Cortana record the last minute and share it to my activity feed.” Cortana can also help users invite friends to games, chats, party invites and sharing, all without the use of the control or interrupting feverish gameplay.
As of now, we’re not clear on if users can use a speaker enabled headset for the functionality or whether Cortana use will be restricted to Kinect use only. Another unanswered question is about timing. During Larry’s walkthrough, details about when Xbox One users can expect the update were missing. As Windows 10 begins to make its way onto desktops for back to school, and eventually onto phones for the holiday season, it might be safe to assume the update could land very soon.