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(Pocket-lint) - The Xbox One's app line up was recently expanded by the addition of Vine. You can now watch inane Vine clips from around the world as much as you like, all sectioned into categories like "animals", "comedy", "science & tech", and "idiots who have nothing better to do". We made the last one up, obviously, but you know...

However, it must be said that while the presentation of the app is excellent, it's about as basic as can be and, like the Vine website at Vine.co, it only provides a portal to posted Vines, rather than a hub for your own Vine account. Considering many Xbox One owners have a Kinect sensor front of house, it would make some sense perhaps that you could record your own Vines too?

Maybe that will be added in a future update, but we doubt it. We also doubt the Vine app was made for us because there's only so many brief video clips on people bouncing on their beds or eating pasta we can take. Especially when played in a massive box on a 55-inch TV - we don't think we've ever seen pixels that large before.

But although we doubt Vine will suddenly be the magic addition that will be decisive in convincing gamers to buy an Xbox One over a PS4 this Christmas, there are other apps on the platform we do think deserve more consideration. Sony has been slow in improving the media player abilities or expanding the PlayStation 4's talents beyond playing games - albeit very well indeed - and that has given Microsoft an "in" when it comes to enticing people who want more than a games machine. It has plenty more applications available to download, so here's five of our favourites that we think have improved the Xbox One's standing significantly in the last few months.

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Plex is one of the latest applications to hit Xbox One and is a very popular one for fans of streaming media. If you have set up a Plex server on your PC, Mac or Linux computers, or have a Plex supported network drive, you can access all of your video, music and photo files through the Xbox One, regardless of what file type it is stored in.

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If the file is of a type not normally recognised by the Xbox it doesn't matter, the Plex server will convert it for you on the fly. That means you'll need to keep your computer on elsewhere in the house if you don't have a compatible NAS drive, but in return not only do you get like for like video or audio conversion, but you get content rich metadata that makes your personal video and music collection look like it's from Netflix or Spotify.

To use Plex on the Xbox One at present you will need a Plex Pass subscription, which is available from $3.99 (£2.50) a month. That will also give you extra benefits, such as free apps for Android or Roku, wireless syncing for mobile devices and offline downloading. There are plans to introduce a paid-for version of the Plex app for Xbox One in future, for those without a Plex Pass.

READ: Getting started with Plex: How to set up Plex to stream stuff to your Xbox One

EA Access

Controversially, Sony turned down the opportunity to have EA Access on the PS4, claiming that it didn't represent good enough value for money. However, EA Access is Electronic Arts' own subscription service in a similar vein to PS Plus or Xbox Live Gold and offers unrestricted access to EA back catalogue games that you won't get on the two native membership schemes.

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In addition to completely full games, such as Madden 25, Battlefield 4 and Need for Speed: Rivals, EA Access subscribers get early access to new games and 10 per cent their digital download cover price. New full games will be added to "The Vault" over time and a subscription can cost as little at £19.99 for a whole year.

Xbox Media Player

While Sony lingers over adding even the most basic streaming abilities to its PS4 console - something PS3 owners had for many years - Microsoft has released a media streaming app that is in "preview" mode at present because it will be adding extra file support in time.

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To be honest, Plex is a far better app for streaming videos, music and photos over a home network, but it requires a Plex server to be installed and a subscription fee. The Xbox Media Player is much more basic in look, but it will also play files stored on a USB stick or external hard drive.


Skype is hardly new for Xbox One owners, being a Microsoft service and installed on the console since day one, but if you have a Kinect it works very well indeed.

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You might not use it that often, but it's great to see family members you haven't spoken to a while in full on your main living room TV (if that's where you keep your Xbox One, of course).


Surprisingly, the PS4 is yet to get its own 4oD app while the Xbox One has an excellent hub to Channel 4's catch-up TV and collections service. Admittedly, it's no BBC iPlayer (which is still missing for Microsoft's console) and doesn't present shows in HD, but it does have voice control if you own a Kinect sensor and includes all the content from all of the station's UK channels (for good or bad).

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The service is ad supported, but a couple of quick adverts at the start are a small price to pay for the ability to watch the latest episodes of Homeland on catch-up.

Writing by Rik Henderson. Originally published on 15 October 2014.