Microsoft Talks Xbox One Background Music, Struggles of Achievement Challenge System

"We want to do it in a way that surprises fans."


Support for background music on Xbox One (outside of Snap) is on Microsoft's backlog of new features it wants to introduce, but if you're holding out for it, you may want to get comfortable. Xbox engineering boss Mike Ybarra says in a new interview that Microsoft is taking its time with the new feature to get it right.

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"Background music is on that list," Ybarra said on the latest Inner Circle podcast. "Windows 10 will help us as we think about what's the right away to deliver that. And we want to do it in a way that surprises fans."

The Xbox One adopted Windows 10 as its underlying operating system with the release of the New Xbox One Experience earlier this month. This has led to various efficiency improvements and sets the console up to be more flexible in the future, Microsoft has said.

Ybarra added Microsoft is thinking about Xbox One background music functionality in a similar way to screenshots, another much-requested feature that was eventually delivered. About screenshots, Ybarra said, "We could have released something that was medium-quality." However, the company also wanted to "surprise" users and waited until it could offer a more robust experience, complete with .PNG file support.

"As we look at background music and we figure out where where does it fit and what's the technical solution that makes sense, we want to make sure it's something that pleases everybody," Ybarra said. "And certainly it's on the list; certainly we're looking at it, and it's something we'd all like to have as well."

Xbox One owners can currently use the Xbox Music app to listen to music while playing a game, but only with Snap. This takes up a portion of the screen, making it a less-than-ideal solution. There is clearly demand for a better alternative. On the Xbox Feedback site, more than 21,000 people have voted for "Play Music From Apps Without Snap (Background Music)."

Also in the interview, Ybarra talked about the struggles of the new achievement challenge rewards system. He acknowledged that usage was "pretty low" for these time-based challenges, which he admitted might be because they were hard to discover. As such, he said, "We certainly want to look at that" to see how it can be improved in the future. These challenges do not earn gamerscore but give players the ability to unlock other forms of bonuses, like avatar items. How they will be overhauled in the future remains to be seen.

Microsoft doesn't have any major feature updates for Xbox One planned for December. That's because the company is instead focusing on keeping Xbox Live and other network services up and running during the busy holiday month. February is the goal for when the next update will go out.

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