Xbox Series X update breathes life into boring interface

xbox series x
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The new Xbox Series X update will help its visual aesthetics feel less boring.

Unlike the PS5, which got a major overhaul of its home screen (or dashboard, as some call it), the new Xbox models only got a modest, minor set of tweaks. Our Xbox Series X review, referred to its interface as "pretty much identical to that of the Xbox One." That changes, slightly, with the new November 2020 Xbox update.

As announced on the Xbox Wire blog, the new update adds "Dynamic backgrounds," that insert more motion and color to the console home screen. You get six options, and Microsoft noted that these include: "homages to previous generations of Xbox consoles and others based on popular profile themes." 

The company set expectations a little high, noting "Initial fan feedback on the feature has been very positive." The post added that more dynamic backgrounds are coming in the future, and will feature "additional styles, colors, and designs."

xbox series x backgrounds

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Other Xbox Series X November 2020 update perks

The Xbox Series X and S feature an Auto HDR setting, which enhances older games with encoded for standard dynamic range. The November 2020 update makes it easier to know when a game is taking advantage of this tool, by showing an Auto HDR tag when you open the guide while playing a game that supports the feature.

Another tweak in the update is an "X|S" badge added to legacy titles in your games library that are updated and optimized for the new generation of consoles. Microsoft called out Forza Horizon 4, Gears 5 and Ori and the Will of the Wisps as examples.

The Game Activity tab in the guide will be gaining a progress tracker for achievements, and this section will also let you easily see who else is playing the game you're in, and if there are active events going on.

Additionally, the Xbox Series X/S setup now includes a new option for adding family members' profiles to their console.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.