Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect camera launched almost a year ago with the promise of a UI revolution. But in Australia, that promise was limited by the lack of voice control functionality. Today, Microsoft announced that we’ll be able to control our consoles using our voice from mid-December.
Some voice functionality will be available from tomorrow, however, within games like Kinect Sports Season 2. That said, controlling the actual console – including the ability to select menu options, control video playback and begin playing music – won’t land until mid-December. When it does launch, it will include the ability to control Foxtel on Xbox and the upcoming iView and SBS On Demand features.
Microsoft didn’t give a hard date for the upcoming Spring update at the launch – the UI refresh that will give the Xbox Dashboard the Windows Phone 7 Metro design – but a rep did hint that it could be delayed in Australia to roll out with the voice command update. Of course, she also said it might not, so only time will tell there.
Microsoft also confirmed that Australia will be getting the Zune Pass for music come November 16. For $12 a month or $120 a year, the service offers streaming of 11 million tracks and tens of thousands of music videos through an Xbox, Windows PC or WP7 handset. Unlike the US Zune Pass though, there’s no ability to download a set number of tracks to keep each month – the Australian service will be a subscription only service, where music will stop playing when you stop paying.
That said, it does nicely round out the Xbox 360’s media options, adding music to the video services already on offer.