Microsoft’s quest to increase the integration between the Xbox One and Windows 10 will continue with the console’s Anniversary Update this summer. In addition to a series of features designed to bring console and PC gaming closer together, the update will finally see Cortana arrive on the Xbox One.
Cortana will replace the existing voice commands for Kinect on Microsoft's console. Anyone wishing to use the virtual assistant won’t require a Kinect, as voice commands will be recognized through any headset. Users will have to say “Hey, Cortana,” rather than “Xbox,” after the update, as Microsoft says this can be picked up easier and should lead to fewer instances of accidental activation.
Albert Penello, senior director of product management and planning at Microsoft, told GamesBeat that Cortana is a huge improvement because it will support better natural language recognition. As an example, by saying: “Hey, Cortana, I want to play Killer Instinct,” it can search through a library of games, show matching titles, and ask which one to load. Saying “the first one” will launch the top title in the list.
The current voice system requires commands to be very specific and won’t do anything if it doesn’t recognize instructions, whereas Cortana will always try to perform some kind of action.
Microsoft’s main aim is to get Xbox One owners using Cortana in a gaming capacity. The company went so far as to refer to it as a “personal gaming assistant.” You'll be able to use it to find out what games friends are playing, create parties, and perform tasks while you’re in the middle of a gaming session. It can even recognize your friends’ real names or gamertags.
More features will be added to the Xbox One incarnation of Cortana over time. It will also come with many of the same functions found in the Windows 10 version, such as answering general questions and its location-based features.
Away from the personal assistant, the Xbox One update will see more efforts by Microsoft to unify the PC and Xbox One platforms. Part of this is the company’s plan to combine the best elements of the Xbox Store and Windows Store into a single cohesive experience across devices. On Xbox, this means browsing content on the store will be easier, as will finding games that are on sale.
PC games are set to get their own hubs on Xbox Live, which will let players see achievements and share clips or screenshots on the console. And while Microsoft is still preparing the Xbox One for the controversial Universal Windows Platform Apps, a spokesperson said “the groundwork is now there” for UWP support.
Addtionally, the Xbox Live app for Windows 10 will allow you to import gameplay footage recorded on the Xbox One to the PC, edit it using any video editor, and re-upload it.
Finally, the Xbox's Game Collection interface gets a revamp to make it faster and easier to find and launch the games you’re looking for.
Cortana on the Xbox One will debut in the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain first. Preview members can opt-in to test the anniversary update this week, and it will roll out to all Xbox One users in the summer.