4 suggestions for improvements to the Xbox One

The launch honeymoon for Microsoft’s latest console has passed, and with that comes a hard look at what the Xbox One really needs next.

If you are one of the more than three million users with a pair of glowing “X” icons gracing their entertainment centre, there’s a good chance you have a suggestion (or two) for Microsoft about how the Xbox One can be improved. While we continue to work our way through the launch titles and get to know the console, there’s more than a couple of features that are just plain missing. Microsoft could dramatically improve the overall user experience if the company fixed these issues as quickly as possible.

Battery life indicator for controllers

This one seems like it would be the easiest to fix, and by far the most obvious. The only way you know what your remaining battery life is on an Xbox One controller is when it stops working.

Whether you’re using AA batteries or a battery pack from Microsoft, this is beyond frustrating. Even if the feature was only available for the Xbox One rechargeable battery packs, this is one of those things that causes instant gamer rage when you’re cut out in the midst of gameplay.

Figuring out where to put it would be somewhat challenging, but it seems like the best place would be the menu panel that you can access from the controller. This would mean leaving the game briefly to check battery status, but since the Xbox One makes it so quick and easy to jump in and out of games, it’s unlikely that this would be a huge inconvenience – especially when compared to having your controller die in the middle of a boss fight.

More sharing options

While we know that Microsoft is busy sorting out direct broadcasting with tools like Twitch.tv and YouTube, there’s still a really great game DVR service available. The Xbox One makes it easy to capture a game with very little effort and its editing capabilities are intuitive, but once you’ve created a video your options are depressingly limited. Getting a video to YouTube right now means exporting to SkyDrive, downloading from SkyDrive on a PC, and then uploading to YouTube. Microsoft… you can do better!

Since you clearly are connected to the Internet, it seems obvious to allow uploading to more than just Upload and SkyDrive. While these are obvious choices as starting points for Microsoft, it would be beneficial to support other services. Even if Microsoft isn’t ready to support other video services, being able to upload video content to Dropbox would be a trivial thing to add on. The Dropbox API makes this sort of thing really easy, Microsoft just needs to pull the trigger.

Better family account creation and management

As a happily married man with three children, we play a lot of video games in my house. While most of the games my children play right now are either on the Wii U or a mobile device, I picked up Lego Marvel Super Heroes with my Xbox One so there was something the family could enjoy when I wasn’t playing Ryse. While I could just load up a guest account for one of the kids to play with me, it seemed like now was a perfectly good time to give them accounts on the Xbox One. On the Xbox 360 I was able to make them avatars and we could select one of those avatars to play in the games with us. This same setup doesn’t exist on the Xbox One, because it was replaced with an attempt to give everyone an Xbox Live account.

Creating accounts for other people on the Xbox One requires an email address, which means you have to go through and basically create a Microsoft account for everyone in the house in order for them to have their own profile on the Xbox One. There are a lot of really great benefits to having your own account on the console, and Microsoft made it really simple to login to your account with facial recognition, but actually having to create a Microsoft account if you don’t already have one is a giant pain. There’s no way to do this on the web, either. It is all done on the console, making it all the more frustrating to hunt for individual characters.

Microsoft could easily fix this by either implementing proper local-only child accounts, or just making it possible to create accounts on the web. This would make it very simple for a family to enjoy the console together, instead of creating a 25 minute setup process or actively encouraging parents to treat their kids as guests on the console.

Notifications for friends

This is really more of a tweak to existing settings than anything else. The Xbox 360 would pop up a notification every single time a friend signed in to Xbox Live, which was a huge pain if you were watching a video or something. The Xbox One seems to have gone to another extreme by making it so there are no friend notifications at all. You get a readout of total friends online when you are at the home screen, but never a popup when a friend signs in or when you get a friend request from a new user. There’s very little control here, and Microsoft would do well to adjust this slightly.

The Xbox One should support the ability to notify users when specifically selected friends have signed in. This way you can choose to be notified when your closest friends have logged in. Additionally, new friend requests should appear as a popup during periods of inactivity. If you’re rummaging through the settings or navigating the menu for an app, the console could take that opportunity to tell you about new friends. This way you aren’t interrupted during a game or video, but you are still notified when it happens.

Microsoft is clearly lagging behind Sony right now when it comes to console popularity, and a lot of that stems from Sony demonstrating very early on that they were listening to their users and implementing features that those users were interested in. While the PlayStation 4 is far from perfect, Microsoft really needs to listen to their community and quickly implement some of these features to make their core users even happier with their purchase.

For more on the new consoles, check out our piece on why the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 graphics will look fully next-gen before long. We also have an in-depth look at what the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One redesigns might look like.

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