Major Nelson finally announced the official launch date of the new dashboard update for all Xbox 360’s.Tuesday, December 6th will mark the day that Xbox Live users around the world will get their hands on all the new features Microsoft has been talking about such as cloud storage and Beacons, in addition to the new aesthetic changes.
Probably the most exciting feature, and one that PSN Plus subscribers have held above Xbox owners heads, is the ability to store your game saves in the cloud. With 512MB of storage, it is certainly not meant for storing your DLC or gamer profiles, but in terms of game saves it is easily enough storage for all your games.
Beacons are a new feature that could likely only be possible within the confines of an infrastructure like Live or Steam. I allows you to notify all your friends that you are interested in playing a specific game with them online, whenever they are free to do so. It sort of like a more advanced invite system as this will remain persistent so if your friends just come online and want to play with you but don’t want to invite you in case that is a bit too forward, then you can let them know you are always down to play with them. So you don’t have to awkwardly accept or feel bad for ignoring the invite.
The other major feature is the full integration of Kinect with the main dashboard as well as for Zune videos and the voice commands of course work with the new Bing search. Without Kinect you can still use Bing Search to look for videos in your library, Zune or Netflix and any game related content will come up as well. From my experience it seems to work well enough.
It was also mentioned there is enhanced Family Settings as well, but I’m not really sure what that entails as it is a feature I have yet to touch myself. If you are interested in sharing your achievements with your family and friends though, you will be able to do that in this update as well with Facebook sharing.
Though it will take a bit of getting used to, to learn how to access everything you want, I think most people will find this update a welcome improvement and, with a new section called Quickplay allowing for easy access to often used Apps and games, so you will spend less time searching through endless menus. Mentioning Apps, Major Nelson also says that most users can expect many new media based Apps, which will be found under a new App Marketplace section of the dashboard.
I had the opportunity to test drive these features in the Beta program and I have to say I am excited for the final build as it seems to be great so far.