There used to be a time when a new console would hit the shelves and all you had to worry about once you got it home was which button was power and which button was reset. Nowadays, new game consoles like the Xbox One are all-in-one entertainment super-systems and you practically stumble upon a new feature or hidden app every time you turn one on. But if you haven’t yet had the chance to really get intimate with your Xbox One and learn all its juicy secrets, fear not, as the system has a number of nifty features hiding under the hood that we’re highlighting here. And with the recent New Xbox Experience update giving the console a much-needed UI facelift, there’s even more Xbox goodness to discover!
13. Backwards Compatibility Enhancements
Without a doubt, the most talked about new Xbox Once feature for 2015 is the addition of backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games. While this feature is pretty much exactly what you expect it to be, one thing you may not be aware of is the fact that you can still take screenshots and video clips of Xbox 360 titles like you would with any Xbox One game. Simply double-tap the Xbox Guide button (you know, the big “X”) and you’ll be presented with the option to take a screenshot or record a video. Sure, this isn’t anything mind-blowing, but considering the only way to do this before was with an expensive capture card, it’s great news for anyone who wants to share their Xbox 360 gaming exploits.
12. Party Text Chat
Party chat has been around since the Xbox 360 era, but up until now it’s been strictly a voice-only feature. It hasn’t been advertised very much, but one of the newest features for the Xbox One is the ability to use text in party chat, in addition to voice. That means if you don’t want to talk (or just don’t have a mic) you can still communicate instantly with up to 11 of your Xbox Live friends. It’s nothing novel or groundbreaking, but it adds another layer of social interaction to Xbox One and we’re glad it’s there.
11. Quicker Installation
Waiting for games to install and updates to download is just an unfortunate reality of modern gaming, but there is a way to make the Xbox One game installation process run a little bit quicker. It’s simple really: you just need to disconnect your Xbox from the internet. Once that’s accomplished, a process that can easily take a few hours is reduced to about 15-20 minutes depending on the game. This is because when you install a game and the Xbox One is connected to the internet, all available patches and updates download simultaneously, significantly slowing down the entire process. Of course, once you actually connect your console to the internet again, you’ll still have to download those updates if you want to play a game online, but if you just want to start playing a new game as quickly as possible, pulling the Ethernet cable (or turning off the Wi-Fi) is all you need to do.
10. Button Remapping
The ability to remap a controller’s button layout for specific games is nothing new, but one of the more little-known features added with the New Xbox Experience update is the ability to remap your controller’s inputs across the entire system rather than just for one game. If you have one of the fancy new Xbox Elite controllers, you can go a step further and actually disable some of the buttons (just in case you don’t want to accidentally hit certain control inputs in a specific game). This isn’t a life-changing feature by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s still nice to have the option to completely mess around with the Xbox’s controls. To remap the controls, just look under system settings.
9. “Home Xbox” Feature Lets You Share Games
One of the most useful Xbox One “hacks” sounds almost too good to be true, but it can easily be done. Essentially, it’s possible to share games with a friend if you make each other’s consoles your “Home” Xbox. By default, your own console will be your Home Xbox, but if you download your Xbox Live profile on someone else’s Xbox One (and vice versa) and make that console your Home Xbox instead, you can effectively share games between the two consoles. This means that if you play a lot of the same games with the other person, you only need to have one copy of any game. It all sounds a bit complicated (this guide does a much better job of explaining it) and this only works for digital copies, not retail, but if you trust someone else with your private data, you can save a lot of money by switching your Home Xbox around.
8. The Menu Button is Basically a Right-Click
While the menu button’s usefulness is likely fairly obvious to anyone who uses their Xbox One on a regular basis, newcomers may not know that it’s much more than a simple start button. The menu button (or hamburger, as it’s affectionately called in some circles) is best thought of as the Xbox One’s version of a right-click, as it expands the options of pretty much anything you click on. It’s also a great way to instantly access the system settings instead of searching through multiple menus (the Xbox One’s new menu may be a lot nicer than the old one, but it’s still not the most intuitive thing to navigate). If you think of the menu button as a mouse’s right-click, you’ll save yourself a lot of navigational headaches going forward.
7. Preview a Game Before Deciding to Buy it
A Twitch livestream feature is actually built right into the Xbox Live store. Just highlight the “Broadcast” panel while browsing through games and you can instantly watch a live stream of someone playing the game at that very moment. No more having to go to YouTube to find videos of actual gameplay.
6. Track Desired Achievements
The Xbox One interface has a feature that lets you snap a list of achievements to the right side of the screen. Just double-tape the Xbox button in the middle of the controller and select the “Achievement” option to bring up a list of achievements. Alternatively, if you’re using the Kinect, you can give the voice-command “Xbox, snap achievements.” Then just highlight the achievement you want to track and press the A button to snap it to the top of the list on the right. A green progress bar indicates how close you are to completing a given achievement.
5. Access Your Favorite HBO Shows Faster
HBO Go has a feature on the Xbox One that lets you pin any movie or TV show to your system dashboard. All you need to do is highlight the title you’re interested in and press the menu button located to the right of the Xbox button to bring up the option that allows you to pin it to your dashboard. Now you never have type anything in or search through extensive lists to find your favorite shows.
4. Monitor How Much Bandwidth Your Console Uses
To examine the impact your console is having on your internet resources, select “Settings” from the main menu, then, under the “Network” option, select “Bandwidth Usage”. This will bring up a record showing how much bandwidth the console has used each hour over the past several months. You can also see how much bandwidth it’s currently using.
3. Use Your Phone as a Controller
Downloading the Xbox One app to your phone or tablet allows you to sync the device with your console. Once synced, you can use it as a media controller to swipe through menu options or activate different apps on the console — a handy feature for when your game controller is out of reach or you just don’t feel like using Kinect.
2. Connect the Xbox One Controller to Your PC
To connect the Xbox One controller to your PC, you’ll first need to download a special driver package from the Xbox support website. Once the driver package is installed, connect the Xbox One controller to your PC using a standard micro USB cable. The controller should vibrate when it’s plugged into a usb port. If you don’t notice the controller vibrate when you plug it in, you might need to try a different cable.
1. Never Worry About Losing a Saved Game
It’s pretty much impossible to lose a saved game on the Xbox One because all your save files automatically get uploaded to the cloud as you play. This is a great feature because if you log into your Xbox Live account on another console and play a game you’ve played before, the system will automatically pull your save data from the cloud and you can pick up right where you left off. Having to manually upload and download profiles and game data is officially a thing of the past.
The system also has a handy feature called Suspend-and-Resume that will save any game at its current point if you turn off your console off and let you continue from that point when you turn the console back on. Be aware this feature only works if you’re using the system’s somewhat less energy efficient instant-on power setting. But only a complete maniac would turn their console off without saving their game, right?