It’s been several weeks now since we’ve all been cozying up with our New Xbox Experience, and now that I’ve explored the ins and outs of the update (and offered both my praise and my upset), I think I’m prepared to offer my “nice-to-haves”. For one of my final posts of the year, I’d like to compile a list of a few different things that I would like to see brought to the NXE in the new year. I’m sure this list will grow over time, but for now I think these things are pretty logical enhancements to a great re-imaging of the Xbox 360.
- A proper media experience. Per a recent job posting, Microsoft is looking to fold their excellent Zune software into the Xbox in some form, and if executed properly, media browsing and playback should be greatly enhanced (here’s hoping they take steps forward and not backward with codec support and network connectivity). But beyond this, it’s time to start expanded the connectivity to online offerings. How about a link to flickr? Perhaps a Photosynth plugin? Maybe even some integration with Live Mesh where appropriate? The Xbox 360 is primarily a game console, and while it is important never to lose sight of that, I think that making the NXE a place where folks spend their time necessitates a great media interaction experience. Leveraging some well-established services (like they did with Netflix) is logical and welcome.
- A follow-thru with the more modular design to application integration. The framework for this has been created and successfully executed, as has been demonstrated by applications such as Netflix and Photo Party (apps are now in essence like XBLA games, they can be downloaded and deleted freely without a full firmware update required). This is such a welcome way to expand the Xbox experience that I’d actually like to see a few items re-evaluated. Chief among these is the Video Chat experience. I had such high hopes for the Xbox Live Vision Camera (no thanks to Totemball), and it’s been a great way for me to keep in touch with my friends up North. Much like the update to the media experience suggestion above, I had hoped for a stronger video chat application with NXE. I say “application” since, with the Old Xbox Experience, the video chat was a totally separate session that did not integrate with the dashboard, the current audio chat channel, and certainly not with the Xbox Guide. Now that we have an architechture that supports applications separate from the OS, I’d like to see the current video chat stripped from the “Invite” options (or augmented, which I’ll get to in a second), and just rebuilt (with more plentiful and robust options) as a standalone app.
- On the subject of “Invite” options (those options such as Party Invite, Private Chat, Invite to Game, etc), I’d like to see a separate “dropdown” where all “social” applications are listed: the newly coded Video Chat app I suggested above, Photo Party, the forthcoming Netflix update that allows users to synchronize viewing, the upcoming Primetime app…you get the picture. As new social apps are downloaded, they would appear here.
- While we’re at it, it might make sense to have another tile on the My Xbox menu for “Apps”. Let’s be honest, outside of the Photo Party slide at the end of Spotlight, who knows how to get to this intuitively? This might not be the most fun looking thing to slide in there, but I’m sure there are marketing guys who can dress that up for me.
- Hulu support! Shane Kim eluded to this as yet another app down the road, and I fully support that decision! I’ve always expected that this would show up in a Media Center Extender functionality (and it just might) first, but having it in the dashboard would be great as well.
Anything else I’ve missed, folks?