All signs point to the much-anticipated launch of Xbox One on November 22 as being a massive success, but Microsoft isn’t taking any chances. On Tuesday the company announced the new device will feature new and improved apps designed to lock in fans of two of the world’s most popular sports providers, ESPN and the NFL.
Microsoft has been touting its multi-year partnership with the NFL since May, and the exclusive interactive experiences its fans will enjoy via Xbox One. Now we know those experiences will heavily involve what sports fans love best: statistics and highlights. Streamed games can be accompanied by a right-side pane featuring stats and scores while a bar along the bottom updates with content from NFL.com, NFL Redzone and more. Nothing revolutionary there, though a fantasy football integration in the lower right corner should appeal to that hobby’s legions of fans, who will be able to update their lineups from within the app while watching how their players are doing on the main viewer. It’s a cool enough feature that users might not even be annoyed by the fact the fantasy football season will be halfway over by the time Xbox One debuts.
Xbox One’s ESPN app is essentially an update of the WatchESPN app available on other platforms, but with Kinect integration and smoother personalization. As with the NFL app, a running stream of stats, scores and content from other ESPN properties frames the streaming action. Users can customize their ESPN experience quickly and easily, weeding out teams and sports they don’t care about to ensure it brings in content they find interesting. From there, the Kinect sensor can work its creepy facial recognition magic to determine who is watching the app and personalize the content accordingly.
Neither app is particularly revolutionary or nearly as interesting as what Microsoft is doing on the NFL field itself. With the help of its Surface tablets, coaches and on-field medical personnel from eight different NFL teams will be testing a new app called X2 this fall, designed to more accurately diagnose player concussions. The app assesses players based on such categories as confusion, dizziness, memory and concentration, then incorporates data culled from their personal history with concussion for even more precise analysis. It has seemingly little to do with the Xbox One, though could have an indirectly positive impact on the device’s users over the long haul. While fans watch football on the NFL app, “Surface technology is in the stadium, on the sidelines to help protect your favorite players,” Microsoft said in a statement, “helping quickly determine if they can get back in the game or call it a day.”