The April Xbox Update for Xbox One is rolling out, here’s what to expect
1440p support, Freesync, Controller sharing on Mixer, and a whole host of other changes.
Microsoft has released the next big Xbox One update, delivering an update that’s much deeper than some recent cosmetic changes. This update, being touted as the April Xbox Update, brings long-awaited support for AMD FreeSync, 1440p displays, and Mixer controller sharing amongst other things.
Following a shift to the “Redstone 4” development branch, Microsoft has released various new features to the public, after being tested by Insiders. With some sweeping changes to be seen system-wide, we’ve got an overview of the new features for you.
AMD FreeSync (Variable Refresh Rates for Xbox One)
Okay, this is a big one. AMD’s FreeSync was one of the features promised at the launch of the Xbox One X so this has been eagerly awaited for a while now. With the recent announcements of a few TV’s from Phillips and Samsung coming enabled with FreeSync, this is a very good time for Xbox to finally launch this feature. It’s a little technical, but basically, Freesync will give you, the gamer, a smoother experience by adapting the refresh rate of your display to that of the outputted content, reducing stuttering and screen tearing.
It does this without the input lag that a similar solution, V-Sync, suffers from. To use Variable Refresh Rates (VRR) on Xbox, you’ll need a display that supports FreeSync over HDMI. If you have an Xbox One S or Xbox One X, you can also take advantage of High Dynamic Range (HDR) via FreeSync 2, while the original Xbox One is limited to the non-HDR first revision of FreeSync. WindowsCentral has a good deeper dive into this technology if you’re interested to learn more.
Support for 1440p Video Output
This one’s all about choice. The 4K content was a launch selling point for both the Xbox One X and Xbox One S, and although consoles connected to 4K displays provide the best experience, both consoles can also use supersampling to deliver benefits on lower resolution displays also. Supersampling was limited exclusively to 1080p displays, so if you had a 1440p screen – you’d see a lower than native resolution, which would impede your experience.
The April Xbox Update adds support for native 1440p outputs, providing a middle ground between 1080p and full 4k and giving the user more choice of displays to run with their console. Most “Xbox One X Enhanced” games will now look crisper, and there’s a corresponding bump to high-resolution video content on both the Xbox One S and Xbox One X.
New Interactive Features on Mixer
Xbox’s streaming service, Mixer, is already known for its interactive feature set. This update brings an unprecedented level of caster/audience interactivity, with the ability to share your controller with a viewer. Streamers can share their entire controller (except the Xbox button), and then the viewer can use either the on-screen gamepad seen above or by plugging a controller into their PC. Then it’s up to the two of them to decide if they’re going to work together or cause chaos. This feature is built in to the dashboard on the Xbox, and is as simple to activate as starting a broadcast itself.
There’s also a host of quality-of-life updates for Mixer broadcasters, starting with your broadcasts staying connected even if you switch games or exit to the dashboard. Now, instead of dropping the stream, your viewers will see a pause screen until you jump back into a game.
Also, you can now start your Mixer broadcasts from anywhere on Xbox, whether you’re in a game, on the dashboard, or paused on a game’s splash screen. Xbox has been really pouring resources into Mixer since they bought out Beam and changed the name, and this shows that it’s paying dividends. Paired with Mixer’s FTL streaming technology, the feature can deliver low latency gameplay across the globe and gives the creative casters another tool in their box.
Auto Low Latency Mode for Xbox One
Further improving refresh rates across the board comes to a feature known as ‘Auto Low Latency Mode’ (ALLM), which automatically adjusts audio latency in real time to make for the smoothest, lag-free viewing experience. Gamers strive for the quickest response times for their titles, and this feature helps to achieve this. ALLM is currently difficult to use on Xbox One, mainly due to the fact that it’s limited to only a small subset of displays that come with the HDMI 2.1 specification. For now, this is a future-proofing move for when HDMI2.1 displays are more widespread and help to ensure the longevity of the console.
System-wide audio changes
A new widget has arrived onto the Xbox One’s Guide menu, expanding on the previous audio management. Now you have the ability to balance background music and in-game music, so you can rock out to Spotify etc while you game without needing a second set of speakers. Changes are also being rolled out OS-wide, with revamped sound effects for user-interface interactions that now support spatial audio. This will ensure that your actions sound right if you are using a surround sound setup.
Improvements to Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Edge always felt like the runt of the litter, with all the quality improvements only rolling out on PC. That’s now changed, with a new controller-centric user interface and expanded feature set, along with a revamp of the overall design. Now users on Xbox can download and upload files, mute tabs, use read-aloud and autofill functionality. Microsoft has also upgraded the EdgeHTML engine, which results in rendering improvements on the Xbox One.
Much like Night Light on Windows 10, this aims to improve the dashboard by shifting between the light and dark themes according to the time of day. This should improve your user experience at all times by shifting between which theme works best for daytime/night.
Direct Twitter sharing for Xbox One
One of the major selling points of the Xbox One’s social features is the ability to share video clips and screenshots of gameplay natively through the console’s integrated “Game DVR.” In an effort to make this even more streamlined, you can now natively share clips or screenshots to Twitter, without having to first upload to Xbox.com and then share a link to that on Twitter.
Clubs and Tournaments
Some welcome changes here also, with Club administrators now having the ability to filter invitation requests based on various criteria. There’s also a smarter Feed, with abilities to block comments and a few sorting options.
Now Tournaments are available directly in Game Hubs, so you don’t have to be a member of a club to start or join a tournament.
These are coming to Insiders only. Xbox has been testing some features with a subset of all users, with a brand-new collection experience for Xbox Game Pass showing in My Games and Apps. This month, Xbox is revamping the experience for Xbox Live Gold, with a dedicated tab to quickly view and access all your redeemed Xbox Live Games with Gold.
Now you can install them with only two button presses, so if you’re an Insider–look out for this to see if you are selected to test it.
How do you feel about the Xbox update? Happy with the chances or were you expecting more? Let us know down below!