Microsoft has announced Twist Control, the new Xbox 360 dashboard due this Christmas, at a Gamescom demonstration by Robin Burrowes, an Xbox Live product marketing manager. The tagline? "All the entertainment you want, with the people you care about, made easy…"
The concept is to blend voice control and content together—that is, pushing the Kinect as hard as they can—by allowing user to say, for example, "Xbox Bing BioWare" and have the system automatically search for all video game-related material on BioWare. My only concern here is that speech recognition is still rather primitive, and requires the room to be fairly silent so that the device can hear you and your syllables as clearly as possible.
The video above shows examples with "Xbox Bing Halo" and "Xbox Bing Batman", but hopefully, it can recognize search terms that are longer than two syllables, all while having enough words in its databank to recognize your words in the first place.
Channels are displayed along the top of the screen, instead of along the side as it is now. I suppose some PS3 fans will see this as bit of a copycat, but let them rant. Scrolling through each channel can be done by standard controller or hand movements with the Kinect… which is way too slow and cumbersome in actual practice. Unless they remove the lighting and distance requirements and the fact that it takes about three seconds to select anything on the screen by holding up your hand, the controller will remain my trusty navigator. As much as they want the technology not to get in the way, it still does…
The best touted feature, however, is the inclusion of Beacons beneath the Social channel that allow players to post across Xbox Live as well as Facebook (as if they're smart, the option for Twitter, Google+, and whatever social media site you use nowadays). Burrowes explains the reason behind this addition:
That's been a little bit of a barrier. The core community have been saying to us, 'I'm doing this one activity but I really want to play Call of Duty with my mates when I've got four or five of them online at the same time.' People are still text messaging each other and sending messages on other platforms. This is an easier way to do it.
Also, just so you don't forget, Facebook posting for Achievements is allowed, the Xbox Live Party environments will look sleeker, and cloud save storage (thank goodness) will be available hopefully at launch.