New Xbox LIVE Features: Cloud Storage Finally And What Are Beacons?

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You may have caught some information during the Microsoft E3 2011 Press Conference that mentioned new features coming to the Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE soon, but following the briefing, they fleshed out the details as well as announced a couple of really great new ones.

I especially love the idea of the beacons. Hit the jump to see what nifty new features are headed your way.

So in a nutshell, the dashboard will be getting more slick, we are getting search functionality and better Kinect voice support. Then we are going to see two brand new features that I really like. The much needed cloud storage feature and then beacons.

Here are the details in Microsoft’s own words posted on Major Nelson:

The New Dashboard. Simpler. Cleaner. Easier to navigate. With the addition of new entertainment content on Xbox LIVE and our commitment to continuously improving the overall Xbox experience, we’ve updated the dashboard with a new look and feel that makes it even more open, inviting and intuitive to navigate. All of your favorite content is categorized in a way that is easy to browse and find what you’re looking for, plus you can use voice anywhere in the dashboard to effortlessly navigate and get to what you want.

Bing on Xbox. We are bringing Bing to Xbox. Bing on Xbox searches Netflix, Hulu Plus, ESPN, as well as our music, video and Xbox LIVE marketplaces to find exactly the entertainment you want to enjoy. With Bing on Xbox and Kinect, you can effortlessly find the games, movies, TV shows, sports and music you want by only using your voice. You say it, Xbox finds it. The experience is now simpler than ever before.

Expanded Kinect Voice Support. We want Xbox LIVE members around the globe to experience the magic of Kinect’s voice recognition technology so we are committed to bringing voice to eight additional markets by the end of this year with a total of 13 markets that will have Kinect voice. We are also exploring some innovative new ways to enable the LIVE community to help us accelerate the refinement of voice models in new markets, and look forward to sharing developments on that front soon.

Beacons. We want to make it easy for you to connect with friends over your favorite games on Xbox LIVE, so we are introducing Beacons to the service. Beacons are a way to tell your Xbox LIVE and Facebook friends that you want to play a game on Xbox LIVE. By setting a Beacon, you tell Xbox LIVE what you want to play. Then, Xbox LIVE lets you know when friends are playing or want to play the same game. With Beacons, no matter what you’re currently doing on Xbox LIVE your friends know that it’s ok to ask you to play your Beaconed games. Imagine sending out a Beacon to let your friends know you’re interested in playing “Halo,” while watching a movie on Netflix. It’s about making it easier for you to share and discover games and multiplayer opportunities with friends on Xbox LIVE.

Cloud Storage for Game Saves and LIVE Profile. Here at Xbox LIVE we listen to your feedback. We are making it easier for you to sign into your Xbox LIVE account from any console at any time to access your game saves and full profile, including items such as Microsoft Points to make purchases, Achievements and friends. Cloud storage will allow you to enjoy the same great Xbox LIVE gaming experience even when you’re not in your own living room by giving you the option to store your “game saves” securely in the Xbox LIVE cloud instead of on a portable memory unit or your console’s hard drive. Gone are the days of “gamertag recovery.” Now all you need to do is sign in, no matter where you are!   

There you go. Xbox 360 owners are definitely getting some great new features to the online service.

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Cloud storage has been needed forever on Xbox LIVE and I love that it will allow me to easily be able to do things like visit a friend, sign in with my own account and show him something awesome on a game save of mine that he may not have found yet. This will especially be great for games like fighters such as Street Fighter IV, where some people get together for a couple of games and realise that their noob friend hasn’t unlocked a few of the characters yet. Log in with your account, and voila.

Beacons are something that I can really see as a very handy tool, especially for people who don’t always have close gamer buddies to just call up and blackmail into playing with them. With beacons you can just put one up saying that you are in the mood to play, say, Halo Reach, and then just carry on doing what you are doing. If other friends see your beacon and are in the mood, you will get notified that people want to play. No more posting tweets on Twitter or statuses on Facebook saying “Hey guys, who wants to play this later” although that still couldn’t hurt (and could actually be great for integration with the Beacons Microsoft *hint* *hint*).

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Major Nelson also speaks a bit about the features in the latest Inside Xbox and I hunted down the video and embedded it for you. The details begin at the 4 minute mark. Here you go:

On a quick final note, I’m really hoping that they finally allow us to completely control the entire dashboard with the Kinect. The whole ‘seperate Kinect menu’ thing is just not working for me, and why can’t I control my own videos with it just like Netflix can? I demand results dammit!

So there you have it, let us know what you think about the new features above and if they are awesome enough for you. Hit us up with your comments.

Source: Major Nelson

Last Updated: June 14, 2011

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since ’08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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