Microsoft Puts Siri-like Tech into Xbox 360 In Living Room Play
Forget about the rumored Siri-enabled Apple HDTV, Microsoft is rolling out an Xbox 360 system update that uses the Kinect sensor to turn your voice into a remote control. You can use the new voice features to find games, movies, TV shows and music from a variety of content providers on Xbox LIVE such as Netflix, Hulu Plus (December 6), and the Xbox LIVE Marketplace. The new Xbox 360 update will roll out to users in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. through the next few weeks, starting on Tuesday. Microsoft first announced the Xbox 360's new voice navigation features in July during the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles.
Microsoft's new Xbox 360 voice navigation is part of the company's biggest play yet to make its gaming console your living room's digital hub. The software giant also announced a wide variety of new content partners rolling out over the next few months. Starting Tuesday, partners such as ESPN, EPIX, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and the Today Show arrive on the Xbox 360 sporting voice navigation.
More content is coming later in December including Crackle from Sony Pictures, Dailymotion, MSNBC.com, TMZ, UFC, Vudu, and YouTube. Verizon is also bringing FIOS TV to the Xbox 360 later this month. Rounding out its new content releases, CinemaNow, MLB.TV, and Comcast's Xfinity On Demand land on Microsoft's console in early 2012.
E3: Xbox 360 Adds YouTube, Bing Voice Search
The new Xbox 360 voice navigation feature combines the Kinect's voice recognition capabilities with Microsoft Bing search technology to let you navigate Xbox LIVE content. Let's say you want to search for one of the X-Men movies. You start by saying "Xbox Bing X-Men" and your device will bring up all the X-Men related content available to you including games, as well as TV shows and movies from Zune video, Netflix and other voice-enabled apps. Microsoft previously rolled out limited voice navigation features on the Xbox 360, but Tuesday's update makes voice navigation more deeply integrated into the console's menu.
Early reviews of Microsoft's new voice integration say it's a really fun way to navigate Xbox LIVE, but it's not as efficient as using your trusty old controller. Microsoft on Tuesday will also be adding a companion app for Windows Phone that turns your phone into a secondary remote if you tire of using your voice or gaming controller.
Battle for Living Room Heats Up
The Xbox 360 refresh is just the latest entrant into the current round of services battling for your living room. Google recently announced a Google TV refresh featuring Android third-party applications optimized for larger screens and a streamlined interface. Sony recently hinted it has big plans for the living room with a next-generation television and deeper integration between disparate Sony products such as HDTVS, PCs, tablets and smartphones. Most major television manufacturers are producing Internet-capable HDTVs featuring content apps from Amazon Video On Demand, CinemaNow, and Netflix. Apple is also reportedly getting into the living room with a voice-enabled television set, but has yet to announce any concrete plans. Currently, the company offers a set-top box called Apple TV that lets you stream content from the iTunes Store, MLB.TV, Netflix, and YouTube.