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November ‘09 Dashboard Update Explained

Whilst a great deal of people have already previewed the upcoming dash update due for release November 27th by signing up for the Preview Program, many others are yet to experience the new features. Here is a detailed explanation of the new Xbox360 Social Experience for Live Gold Members as I share with you my first impressions.

Before being able to play around with Facebook on the Xbox360 there is a small download file just over 6mb that needs to installed. Once downloaded and opened you will be greeted with two lovely shades of black and blue on the screen whilst you are prompted for your login details. Assuming you have a Facebook profile and remember your login email address/password you can go right ahead and login - otherwise you will need to sign up via facebook.com on your computer first.

On the application there are four main options once you get started:

HOME:
NEWS FEED - YOUR STATUS - NEWS FEED PHOTOS

The News Feed will contain the latest 25 entries viewable in the familiar NXE dashboard style, you will be able to click open each individual item to leave comments, read comments or simply click ‘Like’ to approve of your friends news or status.

To update your own status is just a click of an X Button where you are prompted to type away using the on screen keyboard or your chatpad.

News Feed Photos option will display a list of the latest photo entries from your friend so that you can leave comments or view as a slideshow.

PROFILE:
YOUR STATUS - YOUR PHOTOS - YOUR INFO - SETTINGS

The best feature within the Profile option is to view your own photos on the television individually or as a slideshow. This works very similar to anyone who has tried this using Windows Media Center and it is very fast loading. You can view comments and captions, but you do not have the ability to tag photos, use Zoom functions or upload photos by any means.

Your Information option displays all the details entered in your profile on facebook.com from Basic Information, Personal Information, Contact Information and Education & Work details. If there is any personal information on your profile you would rather your Xbox Live friends not see, then remember to delete/add any information required before downloading the application onto your Xbox360.

Settings is only two options which allow you to be found on the Xbox360 console and Auto Login.

FRIENDS:
FRIENDS LIST - FACEBOOK FRIENDS ON XBOXLIVE - XBOXLIVE FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK

The Friends List on the Facebook application is similar to the guide button option where a list is displayed vertically showing profile pictures and names. Clicking each will open the selected Profile page.

Facebook Friends on Xbox Live and Xbox Live Friends on Facebook is very self explanatory except it doesn’t seem to work well if at all. It is meant to allow you to search and see if your Xbox Live Friends can be added to your Facebook, except in the current preview stages of this application it is only once I have manually added friends using facebook on the PC that they then show up here. These two options are a complete fail and hoping for fixes or improvements by the final public release.

PHOTOS:
YOUR PHOTOS - FRIENDS PHOTOS

This option needn’t be here to be honest since both can be accessed in other options. Your Photos will load up your album list to display photos individually or by slideshow as discussed earlier. Your Friends Photos option will take you back to your friends list where you can select a friend and view photos on their profile.

Facebook on Xbox360 is more enjoyable for me to use on the console rather than on the PC because its very streamlined with the current NXE dashboard, easy to navigate and has absolutely no adverts! Your Xbox360 avatar is noticeable throughout and the only downside to this so far is that it seems not to have an Inbox for private messages which it was recently shown to have in pre-release photo’s. The application does also freeze the screen randomly on some occasions which may be fixed by public release time. The Home area does look a little bland and it would also be nice to pop in a usb memory stick to upload photos - but guess we can’t have it all.

Twitter is built into the update on the My Community section and doesn’t require any extra downloads. The moment you load it up, just like Facebook you are presented with a login screen. If you already have a twitter account you can enter your details, select ‘remember me’ for quickness next time and get started. If you do not have a twitter account already then you will need to signup at twitter.com before you can start tweeting.

Unlike the web based version of twitter this does not display custom background images, but it does feature your Xbox360 Avatar, the blue twitter bird and some moving clouds!

Once you have logged in, your avatar is standing upon 4 main options to the left side of the screen whilst the right side is filled with the latest 50 tweets from those you follow. You can manually refresh the page, but this is also done automatically every 60 seconds.

Your Twitter Name

By clicking your own profile name allows you to see further options about who you are following and who is following you. You can also write/read/reply to any direct messages and see all of your @replies directed to you from other people. Whilst you do have the option to unfollow people here, unfortunately you can not add new people to follow for some strange reason?

What are you doing?

This simple self explained option allows you to post a public tweet up to 140 characters. The on screen keyboard will pop up and you can type away. It is however lacking a character counter (unless this will be added in the public update) so although it states you have 140 characters available, it doesn’t inform you when you have ran out of space like it does when changing your motto for instance.

Search

Another self explained simple option where you search twitter about anything and it will display the most recent 25 tweets containing your search term.

Trending Topics

Trending topics are the most talked about items on twitter. One click of this will display a list of the top 10 Trending Topics, simply click a trending topic term to display the latest 25 tweets containing it.

Overall this is a great tool for the Xbox360 since you can read what others are saying and reply or post tweets without leaving your console to go to your PC. It could have been made better if you could add followers as an option and see custom backgrounds. You can not open any image or video links contained within tweets either, future integration with twitpic & twitvid for anyone familiar with twitter would greatly improve this.

There also doesn’t seem to be much use for your avatar other than to see it and make it wave at you! It would have been good to take avatar pictures and post them as your twitter profile image.

Last.fm is like having your own radio station to play only the music that you want! Unlike both Facebook and Twitter you can sign up very quickly from the console and get listening to music within a matter of minutes, but after you have downloaded another small application.

Upon login you are greeted with a variety of Popular Stations, Recommended Stations and the option to create your own library and favourite tracks. The overall look and feel of it fits in well with the NXE dashboard, and you have the option to display photos of the artist you are listening to on screen. The more music you listen too, then the better choice of recommendations come your way.

Last.fm is a streaming music service which plays the artist that you want at any time you want, but the only downside to this is that you can only listen to music whilst the last.fm application screen is running.

You can also choose to publicly display what track you are playing.

If you like renting movies from the console then this service has most definitely improved since you can pick any film and watch it instantly. Not only that, but it will also test your broadband connection and inform you if you are better off with HD or SD streaming, but you can still of course choose to download the movie if you wish - either way yo still have 24hrs to watch it.

The Zune Marketplace allows you to search for a specific movie with a new search option, or you can choose films by genre, new release or top rentals. It would have been nice to be able to rate films like you can all other content on Xbox Live Marketplace, but this feature is not present with Zune Movies.

The best feature with this application (yes it’s another download file!) is the party mode where you and 7 other friends over Xbox Live can all watch the same movie. Upon starting a party you can invite friends, recommend films for you all to watch, but every member will need to purchase the movie before the party mode can begin.

This is by far the most needed improvement for Xbox Live Video Marketplace because for all of the EU and other territories who have not experienced Netflix, often ordering a HD Movie was an overnight 5-6GB download! An instant streaming movie rental is a dream come true on the Xbox360.

Lastly, all movie content purchased is now connected with your LIVE ID, so you can now purchase content and watch it from your Zune HD device, PC or on your Xbox 360 Console for US members only.

The improved dash update and new features will be available for download on November 27th 2009. In the final release some services may receive improvements.

You can also follow Xboxic on twitter here

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10 comments on 'November ‘09 Dashboard Update Explained'

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Comment by OLethalOShadowO on 2009-10-29 04:13:11 | Reply

how much to the streamed rentals cost

No different than what movies cost now. I’d say avg of 320 SD, 480 HD - but I have seen only 1 or 2 films at 600 points.

You don’t pay more for streaming, you pick & pay for a film then choose if you want it streaming or downloaded.

Comment by Worms on 2009-10-29 17:13:42 | Reply

I’m pretty happy with the new features. Last.FM is a nice feature and the Facebook app is great. I have shown quite a few friends photo albums on it much nicer than crowding around a computer. I have access to all my photos anyways through media extender but I prefer to use the Facebook interface. Now if they would have supported the flash games on Facebook that would have rocked.

Yeah - I think it’s something that you get upgraded in the future… start off with something simple so we can all get excited every time they add a new feature :)

Comment by AugustusBot on 2009-10-29 18:48:45 | Reply

I thought I’d chime in w/ my obligatory complaint…

“YAY, more useless crap that makes my 360 no more worthwhile than it was yesterday. When’s the Blu Ray dashboard update coming?

XMB > Dashboard. By far. Such a better layout.”

Comment by Steve Perry on 2009-10-29 19:16:56 | Reply

I’m going to disagree with you on that one.

Comment by TK Chillin on 2009-10-29 21:48:27 | Reply

All of this just seems like a gimmick just so MS can say they have it. I already have my laptop right there beside me so this really doesn’t do anything for me at all. My desktop is also in my game room with a pretty good 2.1 sound system that I already play music on. All I can see this crap update doing is bogging down even more an already overloaded xbox live. The other day when borderlands came out I thought for sure Live was going to crash. I couldn’t even send a chat or join a game for for a few hours. I hope MW 2 campain is as good as they say it is, because I don’t think Xbox Live is going to be able to handle it come November 10th.

Comment by zarbor on 2009-10-30 20:21:35 | Reply

To complain about added feature is kinda dumb to me. However, the way MS is doing it is tricky. The fact of the matter is that MS wants people to continue to pay their $50 bucks a year for LIVE.

Sorry, its not worth it. Gamers will sing the MS song and dance to tell you how great a value it is but it really isn’t. Just because the other systems may not be as good doesn’t mean that LIVE is worth $50 bucks.

MS knows that paying for multiplayer online is not worth it so they added these features that everyone can get for free elsewhere. They say its free for Gold ($50) members but its all semantics.

Unfortunately, many will see MS adding all these free features as value but to their dismay, the other consoles will soon get them and as stated, it was free before it got to the 360.

Shame on you MS. Drop the $50 bucks for LIVE. You’ve made your gazillion dollars from it already.

Comment by Worms on 2009-10-31 18:28:22 | Reply

Well good for you. Sounds like you have furnished your grandma’s basement nicely! ;)

Comment by TK Chillin on 2009-11-03 03:43:07 | Reply

That’s funny as I do live in what was my grandparents house(god rest their souls)and it is very nice indeed. If the new features are interfearing with the online gaming then yes there is reason to complain. What makes no sense is the desire for Live to be free. The 50 dollar price point helps filter out a lot of kids and losers that other wise whould be online pissing me off. If you ask me (and I know you didn’t) they should raise it to 100 dollars, must be 21 yrs old, and show a picture ID!!! LoL!!!

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