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article imageXbox Holiday Update available now, brings new social features

By James Walker     Nov 10, 2016 in Technology
Microsoft has announced the Xbox Holiday Update is available today across supported platforms. The social-themed release includes significant updates to the Xbox One and Xbox apps, including support for Clubs and improvements to Xbox's achievements.
The key features of the update were previously unveiled earlier this year. Today, they're publicly available on the Xbox One, Windows 10, Android and iOS. Microsoft has focused on Xbox's social integrations with the holiday update, aiming to unite gamers across platforms as part of its long-term goal for Xbox. It is becoming increasingly interlinked with PC gaming on Windows.
The Xbox's new Clubs feature is intended to make it easier to meet like-minded gamers. Clubs are groups that can be used to engage with other Xbox users. Once in a Club, shared gameplay, content and communication becomes accessible to each member. Clubs can be created and joined from any device, including the Xbox mobile app, and are simple to setup. Administrators get a set of tools designed to simplify the creation of safe and inclusive collaborative gaming areas.
Clubs in the Xbox One Holiday Update
Clubs in the Xbox One Holiday Update
Clubs is accompanied by "Looking for Group," a new feature that allows any gamer to signify they'd like assistance from other players. Microsoft describes it as a gaming "want-ad" that can be used to get help with anything on Xbox. A player could use it to find people to complete a daily quest with, or unite a team to defeat a difficult section of a game.
Xbox One console owners and users of the Windows 10 app can browse through players who have a "looking for group" status and express an interest in joining the event. The creator then gets to choose the people who are entered into the game. Looking for Group requests can be created up to seven days in advance of their activation, helping players plan a gaming schedule and check when they're available.
 Looking for Group  in the Windows 10 Xbox app - Xbox One Holiday Update
"Looking for Group" in the Windows 10 Xbox app - Xbox One Holiday Update
The update includes a number of smaller features and improvements that continue the social theme. For the first time, there's support for group messaging on Xbox One and the Xbox app. To make communication more expressive, the Xbox One has a new virtual emoji keyboard that can be used to access the full range of emoji present in Windows.
Xbox Live's achievements and Gamerscore systems have also been expanded. The Gamerscore Leaderboard on Xbox One and Windows 10 now automatically resets at the start of every month, instead of showing results over a 30-day rolling period. The Leaderboard shows players' progress compared with friends playing the same games. In a similar vein, Xbox achievements now show a rarity rating that indicates how many players of a certain game have the achievement.
Xbox One Holiday Update
Xbox One Holiday Update
The update is a significant one that's arriving in time for the start of dark winter evenings and the busy holiday season. Last year, multiple Xbox Live records were broken on Black Friday as gamers spent hours on their consoles. The Holiday Update gives players something new to try out, suggesting Microsoft is expecting similar traffic levels this year.
"With this holiday update, Xbox Live becomes even more social as we unite gamers across devices, giving you access to more people to play with that share your interests and more choice in how you play," said Microsoft. "The update also builds upon our vision to foster a welcoming experience on Xbox Live where everyone is included, respected, and supported."
The Xbox One system update will be available from today, although it may take some time to reach every device. The new version of the Xbox app for Windows 10 devices is also available now, alongside updates for Android and iOS.
More about Xbox, xbox one, Microsoft, Gaming, Consoles
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