Microsoft recently confirmed that it would be updating many of the built-in apps in Windows 8 between the release to manufacturing (RTM) of the OS and its general availability on October 26. Here’s a peek at the changes the firm just made to its Xbox Video app.
I wrote about this app updating confirmation in Windows 8: Updates Coming to Built-In Apps after having been speaking about (on podcasts) and writing (here and in Secrets) for months about Microsoft’s plans to do just this.
Here’s what’s new in the Xbox Video app. There’s a lot of stuff, and all of it is pretty excellent.
Purchasing in local currencies
When Microsoft first launched the Xbox Video app, purchasing occurred in Microsoft Points, not US dollars or your local currency. Today, in both the RTM version (build 1.0.927) and the new version of this app (build 1.1.134), purchases (and rentals) now do occur in your local currency, and with PayPal if you’d prefer. Hooray for common sense!
And don’t worry, Microsoft Point hoarders. If you have Microsoft Points burning a hole in your pocket, you can still pay that way too.
Improved SmartGlass support
While you could previously use Xbox SmartGlass (or Xbox Companion) to hand off the playback of Xbox Video Store content to your video game console, the new version of this app supports new SmartGlass two-screen functionality, including the ability to view information about characters in compatible movies on your Windows 8 device while watching the movie on your console.
(The Xbox SmartGlass app was also updated, of course. I’ll write more about that soon.)
Closed captioning support
Bowing to the requirements of US law, Microsoft has finally added closed captioning support to movies and TV shows purchased through the Xbox Video Store. Note, however, that this support applies only to purchased movies, and not to DVD rips: If you’ve added CC/SUB- or VSUB-type captioning to your own videos, you’ll still need to look elsewhere. (VLC Player is a good alternative.)
Also, this captioning apparently applies to movies and TV shows released only very, very recently. For example, “The Avengers” still lacks captioning while slightly more recent releases such as “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” include it.
If you need this feature, be sure to check out the nice interface for captions in Settings:
Purchase password prompt
While Xbox Video previously allowed you to require it to prompt for a password when you make a purchase, you needed to enable that functionality manually. Now you’re prompted automatically and given a chance to opt-out.
Search by actor or director
Xbox Video now lets you search by actor or director, a nice little addition.
Is there more?
If you see any other new features in the new Xbox Video app, please let me know and I’ll update this article.