New Xbox features dated

Last week I reported on the next Xbox 360 dashboard update. Now we've got a date: August 11th. That's for 'phase 1' of the updates announced at E3. Three items were specifically mentioned in the press release:

Improved Netflix "Watch Now" capabilities: Users can now add new content to their queue from the Xbox. Also 'party support' for watching content with friends will be added. The idea is you form a party with a group of friends over Xbox Live, then together you enter a virtual room where you (in the form of your Xbox Live Avatar) sit on a virtual couch and watch the content on a virtual screen. Yeah, it sounds odd to me too. You can just watch full screen and just talk over Xbox Live to your friends while doing so, if you prefer.

Games on Demand: The ability to download formerly retail-released Xbox 360 games (older titles, at least at launch). It has been confirmed that game saves will be compatible between disk-based and downloaded versions of these games. If you have some old saves from a game you rented long ago, you can now purchase and download that game and pick up where you left off.

Avatar Marketplace: A place to spend Microsoft Points on virtual clothing and props for your avatar.

Facebook, Twitter and Last.fm integration are still planned for later in the year.

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