Trending: Seattle startup vets take on Google with Helm, a new $499 personal email server

Xbox-One-With-controllerMicrosoft is rolling out two software updates for its Xbox One gaming console in the coming months that include new integration with the company’s virtual voice assistant, Cortana.

Starting Monday, the update will arrive in waves to “Xbox Preview” beta testers and features a bevy of new tweaks for both the console and the Xbox app on Windows 10.

“We’re really excited about this update as it lays the foundation to bring together more people and more games across devices through Xbox Live,” wrote Mike Ybarra, director of program management for Xbox.

Microsoft’s AI-powered digital assistant, Cortana, will work with headsets and the Kinect, allowing gamers to find new information and accomplish basic tasks. Cortana is similar to Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa and is already available on other Windows 10 devices. This integration would offer an alternative to the console’s existing Kinect voice commands.

“We’ll continue to build Cortana features over time and our vision is to use Cortana to help elevate your experience as your personal digital assistant for gaming,” Ybarra noted. “Just say ‘Hey Cortana’ or launch the app to get started!”

Other Xbox One updates include:

  • New Game Collection — a new interface to find and launch games.
  • Facebook Friend Finder — a feature already available on the Xbox app that lets gamers find Facebook friends on Xbox Live.
  • More efficient sharing — an easier way to share screenshots, GameDVR clips, and achievements.

Microsoft is also bringing updates to its Xbox app for Windows 10, including the ability to edit GameDVR clips and share them via Twitter.

In addition, the company is creating “Game Hubs” on Xbox Live for top PC games like League of Legends.

“Whether you’re on your PC, Xbox, or mobile phone, you’ll be able to see what PC games your friends are playing, share your own PC gaming clips and screenshots with the community, and message your friends on Xbox Live,” Ybarra wrote. “On both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, you‘ll also be able to party chat with your friends no matter what they’re doing.”

Here’s an example of a “Game Hub”:

Via Microsoft.

Microsoft noted that the new updates are a “work-in-progress” and may be tweaked before reaching the general public. The company added that it is merging the Windows Insider program with the Xbox One Preview program “to streamline feedback and updates.” It is also no longer planning to release monthly Xbox One updates like in the past; it will be “focusing all of our efforts on the next two updates” instead.

This announcement comes just one week before the big E3 video game conference, where Microsoft is reportedly set to unveil new Xbox streaming devices, as well as two new Xbox One consoles — a cheaper version set to hit store shelves later this year, and a more powerful version for next year.

Microsoft announced last month that it will stop production of the Xbox 360. It also dropped the price of the Xbox One by $50 last week.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


Job Listings on GeekWork

Find more jobs on GeekWork. Employers, post a job here.