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Xbox Announces New Features for April; Gamers can Donate to CDC’s COVID-19 Relief Campaign

Yesterday afternoon, Xbox Program Manager, Bradly Rossetti, shared some exciting announcements for the 2004 system update and what’s to come this month for Xbox consoles. Based on gamer feedback they receive through their Insider program, they’ve released some modifications to a portion of the Insider gamers to gain feedback on their revisions before going live on all consoles. They’ve even released a way for gamers to donate to the CDC’s COVID-19 relief campaign by—you guessed it—gaming. Here’s what could be coming to your console.

Layout changes

The Guide, which gamers navigate on the Xbox One console, has been remastered to make features easier to locate with its new simplified interface. Messaging and inviting other players for multiplayer gaming can now be accessed in the newly developed “Parties & chats” tab; making it easier than ever to game with friends. App & system alerts can now be found in the bell icon, where gamers can access general notifications. System settings including audio and power options, are displayed under the “Profile & system” tab, found on the left side of the Guide. 

Games and apps

Storage Management page has been relocated to the “My games and apps” tab with a minor visual update to manage gamers with more ease. There’s also the return of Xbox’s “Surprise me!” key, originally released over the holidays. The “Surprise me!” feature is just as it sounds; when gamers aren’t in the mood for anything in particular, the “Suprise me!” feature will recommend a game at random from your library based on previously filtered criteria. It’s the helping hand we need when a serious case of indecision starts to kick in.

Mixer viewing

In chats, emotes and subscriber badges will now be displayed. Ember messages will also undergo a bit of a visual renovation to make them easy to spot. By accessing the menu with one quick click, you can now adjust your stream settings. UX has also been revitalized on channels in the middle of hosting a stream. You can also load chat history when viewing a stream with the classic layout.

How to donate to CDC’s COVID-19 relief fund using your Xbox

The home screen of Xbox’s across the U.S. have gained a new feature: donating to the CDC’s Foundation in support of COVID-19 relief. Xbox gamers will find the CDC Foundation logo displayed on their home screen that says, “Donate points, and we’ll match.”

Xbox One home screen displaying CDC donation feature

Upon clicking on this tile, you’ll find that to donate, you must be a Rewards member; you can sign up via your Xbox or here if you’re not yet already and would like to be. The more you game, complete Game Pass missions, rent or purchase movies or games via Xbox, the more you score Microsoft Rewards points. You can then donate these Reward points to the CDC Foundation and Microsoft will match the donations to escalate the support. 1,000 Rewards equates to $1.

Want to voice your opinion on these new features and help shape the future of Xbox?

You can download the Xbox Insider Hub on your Xbox console or Windows 10 PC to gain access to these work-in-progress features to become a part of the feedback. You can also find information on the latest releases via the Xbox Insider Blog, or by joining their subreddit

Check out our recommendations for what games to play during quarantine here.