Now that Microsoft has sorted out the aggravating 50Hz/60Hz HDMI throughput in Europe, I daresay that a fair few of you have now hooked up your set-top boxes to watch TV via your Xbox One console.
Our reasons for doing so have been somewhat limited thus far (beyond just playing about with the free HDMI port), but Microsoft plans to capitalise on World Cup fever with a new application designed to enrich the experience, whether running alongside videogames or snapped to the side of the screen during a match.
Brazil Now allows you to choose your team and receive live updates about breaking news and fixtures, take part in opinion polls, collect virtual collectible trading cards and provides extra statistics during matches. Here's the skinny courtesy of Microsoft's press release -- do excuse the predictable gushing.
- Whatever you are doing on Xbox One this summer, Brazil Now gives you notifications of when matches are starting, goal alerts and score updates. You can use these notifications to jump directly into the app and get details about the match in progress, or watch the match live.
- While you are watching live matches on Xbox One, you’ll get real-time information updates, team and player stats, such as shots on goal, scorers, cards and possession, and action photos direct from the stadium to bring you closer to the action, all powered by Bing.
- Be part of the Xbox crowd with interactive polls during the live matches. Who will win? Did the referee make the right call? By taking part in the poll, you will receive cards to collect and unlock the latest team photos. Collect all 96 cards to earn bragging rights and the top spot on your Friends Leaderboard.
- Pick your team to personalize Brazil Now with at-a-glance info of all your team's upcoming matches, tweets, squad and group information.
- Snap Brazil Now next to video games, movies, Skype, or live TV for all the latest news, scores, and stats from the games and teams you care about the most.
Naturally we'll be able to say "Xbox, go to Brazil Now" or "Xbox, snap Brazil Now" for instant access. Do be aware that it won't actually let you watch matches, mind; you'll need to plug in your set-top box for that. However, you will be able to stream the Xbox Exclusive “Every Street United” miniseries that chronicles Thierry Henry and Edgar Davids' journey to discover untapped footballing talent.
On the face of things, Brazil Now might seem like a decidedly silly idea. Not only will it cut down the size of the viewing area while watching a match, but most footy fans will already be aware of the relevant information and getting stuck in on Twitter during the game if absolutely necessary. Or, you know, watch it with friends.
However, it's certainly nice to see Microsoft attempting to add extra value to the Xbox One's HDMI passthrough, using the 'always-online' nature of the console to provide extra information and metagames to enrich the experience. We'd love to see Microsoft expand on this front over the coming months, especially since the Xbox' media centre functionality is at risk of redundancy from smart TVs and all manner of devices with streaming media applications. OneGuide is a good start and definitely has room to grow, especially with SmartGlass integration.
Just imagine a single app designed around British and European club football, from League Two to the Premier League and UEFA Cup. Just for starters -- let's not forget cricket and rugby! And snooker.
Anyway, let us know what you make of it. Will you watch the World Cup on Xbox One?