Today Microsoft announced their new console, the Xbox One. The demo relied on heavy integration with cable television, multi-tasking, mobile phones, kinect, and voice commands.
A demo of the product introduced “Snap mode”, a side-by-side multi-tasking type interface that allows the user to simultaneously watch television, play games, have a Skype call, use Internet Explorer, or even look at your fantasy football stats. They spent a lot of time talking about how easy it is to switch between apps, games, and live television. We’ve seen a push in this direction from Nintendo as well with the Wii U TV capabilities. It must all be part of the overall business objective, to own the entire living room. To replace your set-top boxes with one, all-inclusive Xbox One.
Every Xbox One has a new sensor that can respond to your voice, and understand who you are, and the Kinect has been improved to understand even finer inputs such as the movement of individual wrists. It can even read your heart beat for workout games, or so they say. All these things seem to be designed to be the “everything device”, similar to how the iPhone is the everything device for mobile. It’s clear Microsoft’s goal is to do the same for the living room.
There is also a big move towards a much more cloud-based gaming and app environment. Think Steam meets iCloud, except Microsoft is running the servers (which incidentally went down during their presentation)
It’ll be interesting to see how this affects console development, and how nice Microsoft is going to be treating indie developers with this new console. I certainly am eager to learn more and find out if it’s possible to publish my upcoming game Miree on the console.