Xbox One Brazil Now preview: Hands-on with Microsoft's World Cup companion
Microsoft is really pushing the boat out with its plans for the World Cup in Brazil. As well as create an entire hub for exclusive video and other content centred on this year's tournament, it will release a dedicated voice-controlled application that will be available on Xbox One for the entirety of the World Cup and will transform the way you watch the football extravaganza.
Pocket-lint was invited to Microsoft's new Soho studios to check out Brazil Now, an app that offers ways to keep up with all the World Cup news, events and statistics whether you are watching a match or not.
It works in conjunction with OneGuide in that it can switch the TV functionality of the Xbox One to the right channel when matches are on, but is very much an application in its own sense.
Popped up at the far post
One of the many features we saw demonstrated by Toby Heap, executive producer of the project, was the ability to switch on or off notifications. If on, during gameplay or TV shows, important events occurring in matches will pop up on screen in the same way as achievements do when awarded. This not only helps you keep track of action while doing something else, you can choose to tell Xbox to go straight to the match.
The other features were saw that we have to say look pretty cool include the statistics included in the app. Brazil Now is updated in real time and can be snapped to the side of the screen, so whether you are playing a game, watching TV or even a World Cup match itself, you can keep abreast of a myriad of data and details, thanks to a curated news feed, live photos of the game you're watching or another - if played at the same time.
Group tables, stats on each player, live match information with infographic-style presentation and, even, live, related Twitter feeds are all brought into the app from Bing and you can have it all constantly churning over while the match is played on the unsnapped segment of the screen.
In the box
Of course, that would mean that you need to pump your TV set-top-box through the Xbox One, which is compatible with Sky, Virgin Media, Freeview and more, and as both BBC and ITV have the rights to the World Cup, all compatible devices will be able to play all matches through the console.
Another great feature of Brazil Now is you can set it to be specific to one team, which then skins the app around your chosen nation. We saw it skinned with England - which sported the English flag in the background - but all competing teams are available.
If you do have it dedicated, all the news and information will be centred on that team. Twitter feeds, for example, will no longer display posts that feature the World Cup, but the nation, England, say. And each squad member's Twitter feed will appear on their own statistics page.
One of the last main features we saw centres on interactive polling. Throughout the tournament, Microsoft will put yes/no answers to you through the Brazil Now app. These will generally appear when there is a particularly contentious moment or incident during a match. The results will then make up part of the content itself and social media coverage, but as a further incentive to take part in polls, there are collectable cards and points to be won by voting.
Reaching for a card
There are 96 digital cards - a bit like Panini stickers - that can be collected, three for each of the 32 competing teams. As you collect a card it will reveal a third of a picture of that team's squad.
To win them, not only must you vote, but you must correctly choose the same as the majority of voters. You will also collect points that will be displayed in a leaderboard with any friends you have that are also taking part.
None of this will benefit your gamer score or achievements, but it's an element of fun nonetheless.
As previously mentioned, every aspect of Brazil Now will also be voice controllable through Kinect. You can also jump from it to live matches and other World Cup content very simply.
Brazil Now will be available on Xbox One for free from 12 June, in time for the kick off of the first match of the World Cup; Bazil vs Croatia.