Xbox UI Critique

A critique of some the Xbox UI based on experiences at a relative’s house.

Never having actually used an an Xbox for any serious period of time, I've always politely declined to comment on the design of it's UI and UX. Having now witnessed the installation and use of an 'app' (YouTube), I can finally justify my long-time assumption that Apple really, really got it right with iOS and the app store.

We wanted to watch one of my dad's videos on YouTube. This involved:

  1. Downloading the YouTube app
  2. Downloading some sort of system update
  3. Restarting the xbox
  4. Entering the YouTube app
  5. Trying to figure out how to search YouTube
    • (Turns out it's the little yellow button at the bottom that looked like a global search)
  6. 'typing' in his username using the 'line of characters'
  7. Eventually finding the video and playing it.


Quite apart from the confusing UI and needless downloading of stuff, there were a great many things that could have been improved. So, Microsoft, in no particular order, here are my suggestions:

  • Ditch the alphabet listing for typing and replace it with a PRDFOU keyboard
  • Ditch the stupid 'space age' sound effects whenever a result 'page' is changed (a gust of wind? Seriously?)
  • Show which result is highlighted with more than a thin white border
  • Return to the search results listing after the video has finished. Going on to the next one is appropriate for a playlist, but not when the user has no control over what comes next.
  • Ditch the 'do you really want to leave X app?' dialog and make it so that if they do accidentally leave they can get back in quickly.