A new Xbox One dashboard redesign being tested by select Xbox Insiders members will remove the Cortana voice command system from the console and change the home screen’s layout. Players will no longer be able to talk to Cortana through their headsets, meaning they’ll have to use external devices to issue voice commands. If players want to use voice commands to change the Xbox One’s power state, take screenshots, launch games and apps, or take screenshots, they will now need to use the Xbox Skill function on Alexa-enabled devices, Xbox Skill for Cortana on the Harmon Kardon Invoke speaker, or Xbox Skill via the Cortana app on iOS, Android, and Windows.
According to Xbox Insiders’ Bradley Rossetti, who explained the coming changes in a post on Xbox Wire, Microsoft is pivoting from voice commands processed on-console to cloud-based assistant experiences. Rossetti noted that Microsoft will also be continuing to improve the Xbox Skill function on supported devices and “expanding” Xbox voice capabilities based on user feedback.
In addition to the voice command changes, the Xbox One dashboard redesign will do just that — redesign the console’s home screen. The experimental rework aims to streamline the console’s UI through a couple tweaks: First, the redesign removes the Twists function from the top of the home screen, replacing it with individual buttons elsewhere on the screen to launch Xbox Game Pass, Mixer, Xbos Community, and the Microsoft Store more directly. Second, the redesign shifts the home screen’s elements so that there’s more real estate for icons of users’ recently played games.
For now, these changes will only be tested by a limited audience. The home screen redesign is being rolled out today to a randomly selected 50% of members of the Xbox Insiders Alpha and Alpha Skip Ahead programs — invite-only groups which allow Xbox Insiders members to experience previews of new content. The voice command change, meanwhile, will be available only through the Alpha Skip Ahead program “starting this week,” according to Rossetti. As part of the changes, dictation for the Xbox One’s virtual keyboard will be disabled for the time being, though Microsoft is working on an alternative.