If we could pull your attention away from exploring the beautiful scenery and becoming a Horizon Superstar in historic Britain with Forza Horizon 4, we have some new Xbox One features to share. The October 2018 Xbox Update adds new ways to express yourself with Avatars, interact with your console with Voice Skills, and enjoy your favorite streaming content. Here’s a rundown of what’s new:

New Xbox Avatars

The new Xbox Avatars are expressive, creative and, most importantly, bring to life the community of fans they represent. The Avatar Editor features a wide range of body types, and the entire Avatar closet supports all of them, enabling you to uniquely tailor your Avatar however you see fit.

Avatars will appear across your Xbox One.  You will see your own Avatar on your profile, as well as the profile pages of anyone who has chosen to represent themselves as an Avatars. You’ll also find Avatars on activity feed posts, Friend blocks on the Home screen, Gamerscore leaderboards, club headers, profile comparisons, and more. In addition to all the items that are available at launch, we also have a new Avatar Store where you can obtain even more new Avatar items, including licensed designs from Halo, Gears of War, and more. With new content every month, the Avatar Store is a diverse marketplace of clothing, outfits, props, and accessories to make your Avatar even more unique.

Once you’ve created your new Avatar, you can use the Photobooth feature to capture a great photo of your Avatar to use as your Gamerpic.  In addition to the mood that you set for your Avatar, you can also use the Photobooth to pose your Avatar using a multitude of different emotes, each of which can be paused and advanced frame-by-frame with more control than ever before. Rotate and zoom controls help you capture the exact pose that you’re looking for, and a wide variety of background colors enable you to set the scene.

If you prefer your Xbox Original Avatar, that’s okay too! The new Xbox Avatar Editor also enables you to compare and choose which version of the Xbox Avatar best represents how you want to be seen on Xbox Live. If you choose to represent yourself as an Xbox Original Avatar, all the content from your Xbox Original avatar’s closet continues to be available via the Xbox Original Avatars app on Xbox One and Windows 10.

Xbox Skill for Cortana and Alexa

The Xbox Skill for Cortana and Alexa is available today in the U.S. This feature enables people to use their voice to navigate and interact with Xbox through Cortana and Alexa-enabled devices – expanding voice navigation beyond previous Kinect and headset capabilities. With the Xbox Skill, people can use voice commands to power on/off their console, adjust volume, launch games and apps, start and stop broadcasts on Mixer, capture screenshots, and more. For example, if you have the Xbox skill enabled on your Echo just say “Alexa, launch Forza Horizon 4” and this command will automatically turn on your console, sign you in, and launch Forza Horizon 4. Look for the Xbox Skill in the Alexa Skill Store or the Cortana Skill Store to get started. To set up Alexa, just say, “Alexa, open Xbox” and to set up Cortana, just say, “Hey Cortana, open Xbox”, or search for “Xbox” in the assistant skill store. To learn more about this new feature, see our previous post.

Additionally, in the coming days in the U.S., anyone who buys a qualified Xbox One S or Xbox One X bundle at Amazon.com will also get a new Amazon Echo Dot, but don’t wait too long because this offer is only available while supplies last.

Dolby Vision video streaming on Xbox One

Xbox is committed to bringing rich entertainment options to our fans. Today we are excited to launch our latest entertainment option, Dolby Vision™ HDR video streaming support across Xbox One S and Xbox One X! Dolby Vision enables select TVs to deliver enhanced HDR with dynamic scene-by-scene precision and accuracy versus standard HDR, which is static for the entire movie/show you are watching. If you have a TV that supports the latest version of Dolby Vision and a Premium Netflix subscription, jump in and experience incredible brightness, contrast, and color for yourself today! Dolby Vision on Netflix with a premium subscription will be supported at launch with more Dolby Vision apps adding support in the coming months.

To enable Dolby Vision on your console, navigate to Settings -> Display and sound -> Video output -> Video modes -> Allow Dolby Vision. If you need more assistance setting up the feature or want more information on supported TVs, check out this blog post.

New languages for Narrator

Xbox is committed to being more accessible and inclusive. Today we are adding five additional languages to Narrator on Xbox One, including Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Swedish, and Dutch. We’re also adding an Australian version of English language for Narrator, so Australian users will no longer have to select U.S. or U.K. English to use Narrator.

These updates are available because of the Xbox Insiders who have helped shape these features, so big thanks to all of you for your valuable input. If you’d like to help create the future of Xbox and get access to early features, download the Xbox Insider Hub app on your Xbox One or Windows 10 PC today. You can also visit the Xbox Insider Blog here for the latest release notes and to learn more. We’ll have more to share soon on additional features releasing to Xbox One this fall. Until then, enjoy the October Update and happy gaming!

When you pick up your Xbox One X on November 7, you’ll experience many of the latest cutting-edge technology features that will be focused in gaming for years to come like 4K Ultra HD, High Dynamic Range, or HDR as it’s better known, as well as Spatial Audio. To help showcase these new features to you, even if you may not have the 4K display to run, we developed an interactive video known as “Insects.”

Originally developed by the Xbox Advanced Technology Group for game developers, “Insects” was designed to help teams easily see and hear just how the dramatic the differences can be between the various technologies.

Over time, the team realized how fun and effective the experience was, and so we’re making it publicly available the same day that Xbox One X launches, on November 7 to be viewed on your console. “Insects” will be available to download from the Microsoft Store on your console.

If you don’t have an Xbox One X to experience this interactive video, we have included a variety of screenshots here that showcase all the elements of the video to give you a sense of what features like HDR and 4K bring to your games.

On Xbox One X, the beauty of “Insects” is the option to toggle between the various formats. Once you’ve completed the initial Guided Tour, you can, at any time, turn 4K on or off, as well as HDR and Spatial Audio. You can also pause the experience and zoom in on various elements.

Better yet, you can even change the time of day and alter the colors of the ladybug and flowers, all while toggling 4K, HDR, and Spatial Audio on or off to your heart’s delight. Also, if you download Insects on an Xbox One X and display it on a 1080p display, switching 4K mode on and off will showcase super-sampling in all its beauty.

If you really want to dig into the details, you can even use Pixel Highlighting to show you what areas of the scene are being affected by HDR or Wide Color Gamut. We think you’ll find it remarkable to see the detail pop into focus when you turn 4K back on, or see the range of detail and color when you do the same with HDR. Our personal favorite is switching HDR on and off at night and looking at the moon. It’s such a simple, but great illustration of the technology.

We hope you enjoy the “Insects” video experience on Xbox One X and we can’t wait for you to feel true power when the world’s most powerful console launches on November 7.

forza-horizon-3-fesitval-night

We are just days from the global launch of Forza Horizon 3 on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC on September 27 (September 29 in Japan); however if you absolutely cannot wait to be the boss of the Horizon Festival, the Ultimate Edition is available today, giving fans early access to the Australian adventure. In addition to early access to Forza Horizon 3, Ultimate Edition owners receive the Forza Horizon 3 Car Pass, VIP membership and cars, and the Motorsport All-Stars Car Pack which gives fans the chance to take 10 of the hottest modern race cars off the track and out onto the open road.

As Microsoft’s first Xbox One S game to feature High Dynamic Range (HDR), Forza Horizon 3 takes full advantage of HDR’s expanded contrast ratio and color accuracy. With HDR, our physics-based rendering system ForzaTech becomes even more accurate, bringing lifelike, natural and fine details to life like never before. Players experience vibrant light and sunbeams from an authentic Australian sky, precision highlighting on carbon fiber, glistening sand, detailed dirt and vegetation, and more. If you thought Forza games were already gorgeous, check out Forza Horizon 3 in HDR on Xbox One S.

To experience Forza Horizon 3 in HDR on Xbox One S, please make sure you have the right set up. This post will walk you through “Xbox One S: 4K, HDR and what you need to know” and provide tips and guidance before you play. You’ll need a 4K TV that supports HDRIf your 4K TV is set up correctly, it should automatically play HDR content—you don’t have to change anything on your Xbox One S.

We also want to let fans know that we will be offering a Forza Horizon 3 Expansion Pass for $34.99. The pass includes two expansions with the first being released this holiday and Ultimate Edition owners will receive a discount of $10 if purchased before the end of 2016. Stay tuned for more details in the near future.

If you haven’t experienced Forza Horizon 3 yet, you can download the free Xbox One demo here. See you out on the roads of Australia at the biggest automotive party of the year!