Microsoft's Xbox app update tips its cap to portable gaming

Microsoft Xbox app compact mode portable PC gamingImage: Microsoft

While many PC gamers prefer to play in the traditional mouse-and-keyboard alignment, portable PC gaming has started to quietly take off. Microsoft’s updated Xbox app acknowledges this, with a new compact mode that’s suited to smaller screens.

Portable consoles like the Valve Steam Deck, the Lenovo Legion GO, and ROG Ally allow PC games to be taken on the go, but the smaller screens can play havoc with traditional UI elements, often forcing gamers to navigate through tiny menus and squint-to-read text.

Microsoft’s update to the Xbox app tries to fix that, reducing the sidebar to a series of navigable icons, while leaving the majority of screen for explanatory text. The idea is that you’ll intuitively understand the “row of books” icon to mean your library, and so on. To use this feature, click on your profile in the top-left corner of the app and turn on the toggle for “Compact mode,” Microsoft said. Microsoft is also working with Asus and other portable gaming hardware makers to make this view the default.

Other features are being added to the app, too, including tweaks to the notifications to only display unread notifications, as well as a “Gaming Services Repair Tool,” a troubleshooter to fix any issues with the Gaming Services required to launch the Xbox app on PC. You’ll now be able to redeem rewards on your console with phone authentication, too.

As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.

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