Earlier this week the way apps were being handled on Microsoft’s Xbox One console was changed. Previously non-game apps such as Netflix, Hulu and even the Xbox One’s TV app were relegated to listings in the console’s app store and remained almost invisible everywhere else.
The Popular with Friends section on the dashboard and in the Friends app only listed games that friends had been playing and even if a contact was using an app at the same moment a user was checking their dashboard, it still wouldn’t appear on the list. As a result of this, even though Xbox One users often use apps on the console, it created a sense of app abandonment and made discovering new apps much more difficult for those not wanting to manually check the app store on a daily basis.
Microsoft seems to have realized the lack of attention apps were getting and has now updated the system to now feature apps alongside games in the Popular with Friends list. It’s a small change but one that will have a significant effect on app usage on the console simply by reminding users that certain apps exist and are more popular than many originally thought.
An example of a little-used app being promoted through the update is the XLEi app which Microsoft uses to stream their press events. It’s an app that is only ever used several times a year so few people would have it pinned to their dashboard and most have probably forgotten it even exists. With Gamescom being streamed earlier this week though, the XLEi app jumped right to the top of the Popular with Friends list and reminded many that it was a good option to view streams and also promoted itself to casual Xbox One owners who didn’t even know what it was.
Giving more exposure to Xbox One apps also provides some good insight into how the console is being use by others. The Media Player app is used by a lot more of my friends than I would have thought otherwise for example and it was a pretty big shock to see the Xbox One Internet Explorer appear so far up the list. I didn’t think anyone used that.
Overall this change makes the Xbox One look a lot more active than it did previously and it does make one wonder if Microsoft could take it a step further and perhaps add albums friends are listening to in the new Groove Music app or even movies and TV shows that are getting a lot of views. Personally I think it would be great to see what my friends are watching and listening to in addition to what they’re playing.
What do you think about this adjustment to the way apps are promoted on the Xbox One? Do you appreciate the insight it provides into the way apps are used by others or do you think they should stick to just games? What about taking it further and including other media like music and movies? Let us know in the comments below.