Microsoft is tinkering with Xbox One’s dashboard again, and has announced a number of upcoming tweaks designed to deliver a more streamlined user interface and “a faster Home experience”. As part of these changes, voice assistant Cortana will soon be getting the chop.
The goal of Microsoft’s ongoing dashboard adjustments, according Xbox Insider team lead Bradley Rossetti in a new post on Xbox Wire, is to find ways of getting players into their gaming experiences faster and “keeping more of your content front and center”.
As such, its latest experimental design, which will soon be available to Xbox Insiders for testing, ditches the Twists from the top of the current Home screen and replaces them with separate buttons, in a bid to make accessing the likes of Xbox Game Pass, the Xbox Community, Mixer, and the Microsoft Store “quicker than ever”.
Perhaps more significant, however, is Microsoft’s decision to remove its voice assistant Cortana from the console. As Rossetti explains it, the company will be changing its approach to voice commands, “moving away from on-console experiences to cloud-based assistant experience”.
Once the update lands, players will no longer be able to speak to Cortana via their headset. Instead, those wishing to use voice commands with their console can use the Xbox Skill for Cortana via the Cortana app on iOS, Android, and Windows.
Already, the announcement has raised eyebrows on the internet, with some drawing attention to the fact that removing direct voice control from Xbox One – and instead forcing users to rely on a second device – may seriously impact accessibility on the console, an area that Microsoft has pledged to improve in recent times.
— Simon Le Gros Bisson ?? I, I live by the river (@sbisson) July 24, 2019
It’s already made great strides with the likes of the extremely well-received Xbox Adaptive Controller, so it’ll be interesting to see whether the company reconsiders its decision to remove Cortana in light of the bubbling accessibility discussion.
Whatever the outcome, Xbox Insiders will be able offer their own feedback on the new dashboard update starting this week, when it begins to roll out to select Insiders in the Alpha and Alpha Skip Ahead rings. Everything being well, Microsoft anticipates that the update will be made available to all Xbox One users this autumn.