While Xbox 360 owners know that Microsoft is working on a new dashboard update, what most already know is that it will borrow heavily from the Windows Phone 7 interface. Now we learn that the it will arrive before the end of the year, but no specific release date is yet known.
One new feature that owners might be excited about is called “Twist Control” which can be best described as a new menu setup that involves channel hopping. The Channels are displayed on the top of the screen and can be looked though by what amounts to “flicking” the controller to look though content. You can also use your Kinect to use motion control or voice commands to navigate.
If you like the idea of “Twist Control” then “Beacons” might be something even more exciting, if you are into social media. The Beacon technology allows you to share what you are doing with your Xbox or playing on your Xbox with those on Facebook. (We also expect that it will offer Twitter support, but so far no word on Microsoft offering that as an option.) With Beacons players can be alerted if friends are online and playing a specific game. Hopefully, this will help bring people together and get them connected on the service. It is much better than the text messaging approach that many are still using today.
Tighter integration with Facebook is planned, with the ability to “like” games, for example, as being one of the additions. Beyond this, Microsoft plans to provide additional conduits to add more social media support from within the Xbox which seems to be something that many users want.
While a release is slated before the end of the year, it does seem from what we are hearing that this could be one of the biggest upgrades of the dashboard so far. We do expect, however, for Microsoft to deliver it yet this year, as many of these features have been in development for some time according to sources we have spoken with.