Microsoft is sprucing up your Xbox today. The publisher is pushing out the cleverly named October 2018 Xbox Update out to every console. This patch includes new Avatars, Alexa voice integration, and Dolby Vision.
This is one the biggest updates to Xbox One of the year in terms of features. The company has tried to maintain a cadence of regularly improvements to the console. By keeping the system feeling fresh and responding to fan requests, players may come back to use their systems more often. That could lead to more spending on games and services like Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass.
To get the update, hit the Xbox button on your controller. Scroll over to the gear symbol. Then scroll down to the “System” tab. Here, you’ll see an option for “updates.” Click on the option to check for new updates. If one is available, it should automatically download and install.
What’s new in the October 2018 Xbox Update
Microsoft is revamping its Avatar system. These icon character originally debuted on Xbox 360, but they have languished due to neglect in recent years. That is changing now that the Avatars are getting a makeover.
“The new Xbox Avatars are expressive, creative and, most importantly, bring to life the community of fans they represent,” Xbox platform boss Jason Ronald wrote in a blog post. “The Avatar Editor features a wide range of body types, and the entire Avatar closet supports all of them, enabling you to uniquely tailor your Avatar however you see fit.”
Xbox Live will also introduce new areas for your Avatars to stretch their digital games. They will now appear prominently on your profile page. And Xbox Live will give them space on the activity feed, Gamerscore leaderboards, and in clubs.
Naturally, you can also spend money on items in a new Avatar store. This will include gear for Xbox games as well as other clothing and ways of expressing yourself.
Oh, and if you want to stick with your original Avatar, you can choose to do so.
An Xbox Skill is coming to Cortana and Alexa today. You can add it to either voice assistant. This means you no longer have to use your headset or Kinect, which I’m sure that you all still use (I do!). This skill enables you to turn your Xbox on and off. You can also adjust your volume, launch games or apps, and initiate a Mixer broadcast. “Xbox, record that” also works.
You can find the Xbox Skill in the Alexa Skill Store ad Cortana Skill Store, which is something I knew existed before I just typed it — I swear.
To promote this integration, MIcrosoft and Amazon are giving an Echo Dot to anyone who buys certain Xbox One bundles on Amazon.com.
Personally, I’m excited about this. I loved controlling my TV and sound with the Kinect voice controls. It was a great way to pause TV while I ran to get the door or refill a drink in the kitchen. And it worked … for a while. Cortana is just not as reliable, and so I’ve stopped using it in favor of Google Assistant’s control over my TV. But of all the ways I could use voice assistants, controlling a media center is my favorite. I’m glad it lives on.
The final big update is support for Dolby Vision on Xbox One. This is the alternative, and potentially superior, HDR standard to the open-source HDR10. Xbox One S and Xbox One X have supported HDR10 from the beginning, but that does not take advantage of the wider color gamut of Dolby Vision.
Now, if you are watching content on Netflix, you can take advantage of both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos sound, which is a rare combination for even most smart TV boxes. Apple TV is one of the few competitors that support this, but then you have to use the Apple TV remote, which you really don’t want.
Once this update is live, I’ll test out these features and report how they work. Check back in for that soon.