Xbox One tips and tricks: Here's what your new console can do
After months of talk and trepidation, we're only a gnat's hair away from the launch of the Xbox One and the beginning of the next-generation of gaming - at least in the UK. It's exciting, not just what this means for gamers themselves, but also for entertainment technology in general.
For all the backtracking, whinging and criticisms in the build-up, the Xbox One has turned out to be a complex beast, one that offers almost as much on the media and general larking about side as it does with its games-playing prowess. And it's got a Blu-ray player - a big move for a company that abstained from that particular format long after it no longer made sense to do so. Indeed, it might even be a little daunting at first.
So here are several tips and tricks about the new machine that will help you feel familiar with it from the off. Some you might have heard before, others might even be obvious, but we're sure that all of them are useful to the new Xbox One owner.
READ: Xbox One review
The Xbox One console cannot be placed vertically and sits like a DVD or Blu-ray player. The Kinect sensor is now able to be placed between 4.5 to 6 feet from where you plan to stand and at least 2 feet off the ground. This is a lot closer than before.
The Xbox One controller will require two AA batteries, unless you replace them with the official recharge kit.
Although a constant internet connection is no longer essential since Microsoft's change of heart, you will need to connect it through the Ethernet port or wirelessly for the initial set-up process.
In total, the set-up process should take less than 30 minutes, including the download and installation of a day one update.
On initial set-up, you will get the choice of "Instant-on" or "Energy-saving" power modes. The Instant-on mode will allow you to turn on the console using a voice command or the controller. When in Energy-saving mode you will have to press the power button to start the machine, which will take longer to boot.
You will need to sign in with a Microsoft account when you first start using the Xbox One. Your old Xbox Live account from the Xbox 360 (or earlier) will work. If you don't have one, you will be prompted to create one from scratch.
Once logged in, you can customise the Home screen, with a different colour. You can also choose to sign in using Kinect, which will then automatically start your profile whenever it sees you standing in front.
Setting up TV
This is basically the last big thing to do when setting the console up for the first time. The Xbox One has an IR blaster that can be used to switch on AV equipment, set-top-boxes and the like and you can then use voice commands to control them, such as "Xbox volume up". Some connected kit can be controlled through HDMI.
Wake the controller
If you turn on your console using a voice command - such as "Xbox On" - you will still need to wake the controller by hitting the Xbox button on its face for two seconds.
Xbox One can recognise and sign-in up to six different Xbox Live members at the same time. You can switch between them using Kinect recognition or through the controller.
Your profile and sign-in information will work on any Xbox One around the world. You will be able to access your Home screen, digital games, music and video content, Pins and save games from a friend's machine, say.
You can return to the Home screen at any time by hitting the Xbox button on the controller or saying "Xbox go home". The Xbox button on the controller can also be used to turn off the console or controller itself.
There is a Notifications centre in the upper left-hand corner of the Home screen next to the logged-in profiles. This allows you to access your latest notifications. Just hold the Xbox button on the controller when you receive a notification to jump straight to this menu.
Jump from menu to menu
You can use the right and left bumpers on your controller to panel across your screen quickly. Alternative, reach out with your hand and make a fist to grip the screen and scroll horizontally side to side.
You can now download games by holding a QR code in front of the Kinect and saying "Xbox use a code". It's a much easier way of entering voucher codes than just the old letter and number system.
Games now need to be installed to the hard drive to play, whether they are downloaded or on disc. You can start playing them before they are finished downloading. Updates install automatically in the background.
Snapping applications to the side of the screen for multitasking is a major new feature for Xbox One. You can snap with a controller, but say something like "Xbox snap Internet Explorer" and it will instantly add a sidebar browser experience.
If you double tap the Xbox button on the controller - or say "Xbox switch" - the content that's in each segment on screen will swap over. You can even snap your friends alongside a game or TV show to see what they are up to in real time.
You can also listen to music and play a game at the same time by snapping the Xbox Music service to the side of the screen. You will need an Xbox Music Pass though. A free 30-day trial is originally available.
The Microsoft-owned Skype video calling service is available on Xbox One from the get-go and it uses the Kinect's 1080p camera. You can even host a video call with up to four people on your home TV. And you can continue to talk to someone through audio after opening a new app.
You can have up to 1,000 friends on Xbox One. And an unlimited number of followers.
Like on Xbox 360, you can pin any content to your Home screen, including on-demand movies and TV shows. Artists from Xbox Music too.
Your Xbox 360 achievements will carry over to your new profile on Xbox One, but the new system has richer detail and even media items can earn you achievements now too, not just games.
Developers can add challenges to their games too, which could include timed achievements.
The Game DVR mode will capture the last 30 seconds of gameplay as video when you say "Xbox record that". Using Upload Studio you can then add high quality production, picture-in-picture commentary and more. Your clip can then be shared with the Xbox Live community.
Xbox Fitness is an online collection of fitness and health-based videos and is free to sign up to for Xbox Live Gold members until December 2014. It can even tell your heart rate while you work out using the Kinect sensor.
The new Xbox SmartGlass is available for Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, iOS and Android devices. It allows you to navigate the Home screen, browse the web on the TV and even watch Game DVR clips when mobile.
In 2014 it will also act as an all-in-one remote control, controlling your Xbox, TV and AV equipment. Microsoft claims that SmartGlass takes, on average, about four seconds to recognise an Xbox One on the same home network.
Smart Match can pair multiplayer opponents behind the scenes, so you can keep playing a game, watching TV or surfing the web while it finds a worthy combatant. It will first be utilised in Forza Motorsport 5.
Intelligent player recognition
The new Xbox controller works with the Kinect sensor to know who is playing a game. Hand your controller to a friend in the same room and the Xbox One will know it is now being controlled by them and will adjust its settings accordingly.
As we find more tips and tricks for the Xbox One we will post them here. If you have any too, please let your fellow readers know by including them in the comments below.