October 2009 Xbox Live Update

We get an early look at what the new Xbox Live update has to offer for Indian gamers.

After Microsoft's epic presentation at E3, the world was waiting to get their hands on project Natal, and all the new features that were promised during the show. It seemed like the Xbox 360 was on its way to become the best thing in home entertainment with an insane amount of lag-free streaming high-definition content with social features, unlimited music library through last.fm, updated news stories and comic strips and direct access to social networking with integrated Facebook and Twitter apps. The promises were endless.

So while I was expecting all these features my new Xbox 360 update, all I got were the Facebook and Twitter connectivity updates. I'm not sure whether that was because of my region, or if the other promised updates are work in progress, but the point was — this is all I got.

The first new thing you'll notice on your Dashboard is a new tab called My Community, which has these new social updates. The Facebook and Twitter icons are pretty much self explanatory, but there was also an icon that indicated that there were new Halloween updates available for my NXE avatar. So the first thing I had to test out was my favorite social networking tool - Twitter.

 October 2009 Xbox Live Update

Signing on to my Twitter account was as simple as it always is, but the interface I got was, well something I wasn't used to. The interface was bright and blue, in fact a little too bright for my taste. There was the Twitter bird (in 3D) perching on the top left corner of the screen and my avatar stood right under it. Below my Avatar were all the basic options required to effectively use twitter, namely "What are you doing?", "Search" and "Trending Topics". Not having trending topics listed at first look frankly beats the purpose for me, but that's not a deal breaker for me.

Only four tweets can be seen at a time, but you can scroll down to see the rest. The tweet load time was fast enough to not be a bother. The Twitter page kept auto-refreshing after every few seconds to get in the latest tweets, but it did not have an option to manually refresh. Since no one else on my Xbox Live friends' list was using Twitter or this update, I'm not sure how that would appear on the Twitter app.

I think it would be fair to mention that if you're planning to use any of these new social networking features actively, it would be wise to invest in the Xbox360 messenger kit, which gives you a QWERTY keypad attachment or your Xbox360 controller. Typing without that would just be too cumbersome to be enjoyable.

Next stop Facebook app. Selecting the Facebook icon prompted me to get a 6.4 MB update, which seemed a bit redundant considering I had just done a major Xbox Live update just for these features, but anyways, another 6.4 MB shouldn't be an issue.

The Facebook app looked great in its unique mix of Facebook features with an NXE-styled interface. You are first greeted by the home screen giving you your friends' status updates and other alerts. Other tabs include Profile, Photos and Friends.

Viewing photos in an album started the default Xbox 360 image viewer, which worked pretty well out here. You have the option of updating your Facebook status from any screen, as long as you're using the app, plus Xbox can auto-update your status using your games' progress information.

Both the social network apps are more than functional, but at the same time, the lack of customization options and their barebones look makes them seem like they're still work in progress.

Updates from the Xbox Facebook app show up with a neat little Xbox icon

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