If you're one of the 750,000 people who picked up a Kinect sensor for your Xbox 360 this past Black Friday, your sub-$100 purchase will feel like an ever better deal with Microsoft's latest Xbox update available in America, Canada and the U.K. beginning today.
- Metro UI: For starters, your dashboard will go from a top-to-bottom view to a side-scrolling, left-to-right UI that looks just like the Metro style of the Windows Phone 7 Mango OS.
- Voice and Motion Controls to Control the Console: Forget pushing buttons to control your console. If you own a Kinect sensor along with an Xbox, you will be able to use your voice and gestures rather than a controller to navigate Zune video, Xbox LIVE Marketplace and apps like Netflix. Sounds too good to be true? Watch Gamespot's video that demonstrates how you can interact with the system with just your voice and motions.
Don't have a Kinect accessory yet? "Text search [using Bing] will be available in Xbox LIVE markets," according to the press release.
- Send 'beacons' to roundup your friends: Rather than texting or calling each friend to join you in a game, you can beam your latest status to all of them at once via Facebook or Twitter, so you spend less time looking for your buddies and more playing with them.
- Windows Phone 7 'Xbox Companion' App: As Matthew Miller reported yesterday, if you also happen to have a WP7 phone, you will be able to download the free Xbox Companion app via Marketplace. Not only will you be to use Bing to learn more about the movie, TV show, music or game that is running on your console, you'll be able to see your friends' Xbox-related activities, scoreboard, as well as use your phone as a remote control for your console -- when playing games, music and even videos.
- New Content Coming Dec. 6 and Beyond: In case you need a break from gaming on your Xbox 360, you can now stream the following on-demand shows via your console starting today, with more coming later this month and in early 2012:
- EPIX. United States
- ESPN on Xbox LIVE (ESPN). United States
- Hulu. Japan
- Hulu Plus. United States
- LOVEFiLM. United Kingdom
- Netflix. Canada, United States
- Premium Play by (MediaSet). Italy
- Sky Go (SkyDE). Germany
- Telefónica España - Movistar Imagenio. Spain
- TODAY (MSNBC). United States
Voice and motion commands for your Xbox may get old and tiring quickly, but there is enough in this update to keep the console fresh and forward-looking. Perhaps Microsoft will sell a lot more consoles, Kinect sensors and even a few WP7 phones this holiday because of this update. What do you think?