If you’re a fond visitor of this blog, which I wholeheartedly hope that you are of course, then you’ll notice that I have searched from the cold-hearted depths of the blue world by going from my old dark blue template to quite a bright, bubbly new look! I noticed the design over at mashable.com and immediately fell in love with it. Although it does remind me of Twitter, if that’s a good thing or not? Nevertheless, I hope you readers are as happy with the result because it took a bit of work to get it working, but in the end, was definitely worth it!
Also, this morning I got notified by Microsoft that I had been accepted into the Xbox 360 Dashboard Update Preview Program. Catchy name. Nevertheless, the update was a big software update for the console whereas it added several social networking features to it’s service – Twitter, last.fm and Facebook to be precise – as well as a few numerous minor updates. If you know me, I annoy the bejesus out of plenty of people on Twitter because I do really enjoy using it. Fair enough I do update a lot but still! So to have Twitter on my most played console is either a) a dangerously stupid idea to lose followers or b) an interesting addition to an already rich-in-features console.
I’ve spent the day using the update and it’s definitely managed to get some opinions from me as the features have been dissected, analysed and caused a great deal of scientist-like-beard-stroking. First of all, the Facebook update is the biggest surprise for me. Over the past year or so, I’ve moved away from how much I use the website as it has become a social networking mess of rotten applications, status updates created with the typing ability of a horse, and just general mess of a website at times. (Thank god for Facebook Lite). However, the actual application for the 360 is mildly impressive. Photo exploring is fantastically done with the ability to view your own and others, status updates don’t drown your screen and there’s no site of the general annoyances that bug me so much on the website itself. It’s clean, it’s efficient, it works very well and it gets a thumbs up from me surprisingly.
Next of my checklist is last.fm. Now I’m a fan of last.fm anyways, even though it reveals just how secluded and sad my musical library seems to be with the aural range of a singular band at times. I blame Muse. They started it. Anyways, last.fm gets a thumbs up too. The only downside for me is that you get advertisement videos popping up when listening to the band radio stations within it’s database, much in the same way Spotify reminds you it is ready to take control of your mind every few songs, but that is easily ignored. The application on the 360 allows you to view a slideshow of photos concerning the band currently playing as well as browsing and searching bands and music from afar and beyond. No sign of any data-related inclusions such as viewing lists of most played and whatnot though, although it does scrobble your currently playing songs on there. A big improvement for me would be for it to be available during games but, seeing as it is an independent application you have to download rather than a piece of the dashboard, it’s understandable. This does lead me onto my final point though…
As if you haven’t guessed by now, my final area of review here is Twitter. Whilst many people have their own opinions of the service, I think it’s fantastic and over the year especially the boost in popularity has seem me use it a lot more myself as more people become accustomed to it. However, the Twitter inclusion into the Xbox 360 is a failure. A miserable failure at that. Let me explain; Twitter is all about real-time updates, about being able to give a short message giving your current status or a quick message to share, key word being quick. Now if you want to tweet from the Xbox 360 whilst playing a game, you will have to quit the game, find the Twitter tab on the dashboard, input your message, then leave the area, and load your game back up and go through the opening menus and load your save back up. The reason this annoys me so much is that Facebook and last.fm are standalone applications you have to download, whereas Twitter is not. It is integrated into the dashboard anyways, which makes me wonder, why on earth can’t you tweet from the popup Xbox Guide that is easily available to message, chat, view friends, etc? Surely an option to send a tweet would make far more sense in the middle of a game than leaving it and going through several unnecessary steps? It’s very disappointing. Whereas Twitter on the 360 will allow you to view trending topics, search for people, and view messages, @ messages, DM’s and the likes, I’m astounded that the obvious idea of allowing you to be given the opportunity to tweet on the Xbox Guide has been completely missed and left out hasn’t been utilised here.
Anyways that’s my view on the update program and the main updates it provided. The actual final dashboard update I believe is available on November 17th so if you have an Xbox 360, remember to check it out then and tell me what you think!