Microsoft’s Xbox One unveil back in spring 2013 didn’t have a lot of high points, but the console did feature a new mode Microsoft clearly hoped would be a key differentiation factor in years to come: Snap mode.
Microsoft made much of the fact that you could “snap” various types of content to the side of the screen while still playing a game, in what was clearly a console-specific implementation of the app-pinning Windows 8 and 10 both support.
The feature never made a ton of sense to me — I’ve never had a TV so large that I felt like giving over a third of it to stream video content, and Microsoft’s early multimedia focus with the Xbox One seemed ill-timed and badly considered compared with Sony’s “it plays games” approach.
Today, Microsoft announced that “Snap” mode will be removed in an upcoming Xbox One patch, to make room for future improvements and updates. Microsoft’s Mike Ybarra took to Twitter to discuss the change, though he was vague on what “bigger things” Microsoft is referring to.
There are some nifty features coming for Xbox One in its version of the Windows 10 Creators Update, including improved support for Beam streaming, Dolby Atmos support, additional Cortana updates, and better background controls and overlay options that should cover common use-cases for Snap without requiring the full feature.
Without knowing how many people made use of the feature it’s hard to predict if any Xbox users will be sad to see it go. But it’s striking to me how many of Microsoft’s Xbox One debut promises the company ultimately retreated from.
When it launched, the Xbox One was billed as the one-stop device of the future, the central hub for your entertainment, movie, and gaming needs.
Some of those use cases were never really supported — no DVR functionality, for example. But Microsoft started cutting aspects of its platform almost immediately. Game sharing went out the door (at least, in its original form) when users decided they’d rather not have an always-on, always-listening console in their living rooms.
Kinect 2 was dumped when it became clear that nobody wanted it, and certainly nobody wanted to pay an extra $100 for it over and above the PS4.
Now, Snap and the multi-tasked environment it promised will be replaced by overlaps and some other features, though this does give the Xbox One some additional horsepower to throw at those “bigger things.” Our prediction? Microsoft has some new UI or snazzy ideas it wants to implement on both Project Scorpio and the Xbox One / Xbox One S. Clearing Snap out of the way gets Microsoft the horsepower it needs to do it.