Here’s what the new Xbox Dashboard brings to the table

Microsoft just unveiled their vision for the future of the Xbox operating system. The Xbox One equivalent of the Fall Creators Update (which doesn’t have an official name, although previous major Xbox updates are simply named after the month they release in) brings a brand new Dashboard design along with it. This is radically different from all previous entries, bringing along the visual polish and speed that fans have been asking for. While it’s by no means finished and plenty of features will be added as testing continues, here’s what the first preview will be packing for Xbox Insiders in the Alpha Ring today.

Fluent design

There’s been a few glimpses at examples of what Fluent Design on the Xbox One could look like in Microsoft’s concept videos, but all of them were still pretty close to what we knew before today. This is radically different at its core, focusing on speed and ease of use just as much as it’s focused on improving the UI’s visuals. Content is often blurred (like the bottom row on Home) and items start to glow when selected.

This is pretty different from the version of Fluent we’ve come to know and (mostly) love on Windows 10 PCs, too. The Reveal effect doesn’t seem to be in play at all here, but heavy accent color based glow effects around selected objects take its place instead. This makes a bit more sense for the platform – Reveal was about either showing your mouse position or wherever you tapped on a screen, and you just don’t have cursor motion when selecting things with a controller.

Fluent means that almost everything has changed. The Dashboard, the community, the Store, you name it – this update changes things up so much that it might as well be a brand new console.

This is just the first look at Fluent for Xbox One though, so be prepared for even more changes to how things look and feel as time goes on and the team adjusts things based on feedback.

Lots of customization

Another area where the Xbox team has been receiving a lot of feedback was customization. Lots of users were sick and tired of content they didn’t care for on their Dashboard, and some wanted to add more stuff that they cared about. That’s exactly what’s happening, with a new modular system known as blocks taking up the space under your Home section. Each block is a special type of pinned item – for example, pinned games include extra tiles with information like suggested clubs, statistics about your achievements and much more. You can also pin your friends, which seems like it might be the Xbox answer to My People on the Windows desktop.

Turning games, apps and people into blocks is pretty easy. After selecting the item you’d like to pin, you just need to hit the menu button like before. From there you simply push add to home, and that’s all. You can change block order by pushing the Y button when in their section, too.

Traditional pins aren’t going away, however. You can still pin as many games in the regular pins section as much as you want, and accessing them from the Guide is even faster than before.

A brand new Guide

While the Xbox One’s Guide was arguably the best designed part of the system prior to this update, it’s also getting a brand new look. While it surprisingly lacks Acrylic (which it was shown with in a few mockups) it has a new UI that’s not purely vertical like it was before. There’s now a whopping eight tabs crammed into a horizontal bar that looks as if it can hardly hold them all.

Notifications have also been shoved to a sub-menu on the tab furthest to the right, which appears to just be a settings menu at first glance. It’s certainly ironic that notifications aren’t front and center in a tab called Action Center, but it is worth noting again that this is just the first preview of a design that’s going to evolve (potentially massively) based on user feedback. That’s what all of Microsoft’s various Insider Programs are for, after all.

One interesting thing about this guide design is that you’re able to open up multiple windows within it, like a list of your pinned games. This is a pretty fancy way of displaying content, and it’s designed so you can continue to see as much content as possible without having to leave the game you’re playing and go back to Home.

The very first public RS3 build for Xbox One will be heading out to Xbox Insiders in the Alpha Ring later today, so be sure to keep an eye out and keep your console updated if you’d like to be one of the very first to get it. If you’d like to find out how to join the Xbox Insider Program, we have a guide you can find by clicking here. Just be warned: Insider builds are unstable, entering the program takes some time and getting into the Alpha Ring requires a lot of work to climb the ranks.

Getting in the higher Insider ranks is based on a variety of systems, like how much feedback you submit, how many bugs you report and how much you actually use your console. Don’t worry, though: this design will be heading to more Insider rings over time, and if all goes well it might even reach every ring within the next month.

The final release will likely be much further off, with only a Fall release date being given. We would personally expect it in early November, as this is the dashboard you’ll see when you boot up your Xbox One X for the very first time. A release date close to its launch should be expected.

This also isn’t all the Xbox team has in the works for RS3. Expect to see features announced at E3 like new Xbox Avatar designs and backward compatibility with original Xbox titles to show up in the future as well.

The Xbox One’s future is an undeniably exciting one.

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