In the most recent Xbox One change of policy, Microsoft has announced that Kinect will no longer need to be plugged-in in order for the console to work. Shortly after the console was unveiled, it was announced that Kinect would have to be plugged-in at all times in order for the Xbox One to function at all. Considering the original Kinect didn’t endear itself to many gamers, and considering numerous privacy concerns, Microsoft faced strong criticism in response to the Kinect requirements of Xbox One.
This is now no longer the case. The news that Kinect will no longer need to be plugged-in was revealed during an IGN Q&A session with Chief Xbox One Platform Architect Marc Whitten. During that session, a reader asked what would happen to their console if the Kinect unit was knocked over and broken. Judging by Microsoft’s initial Kinect requirements, an Xbox One with a broken Kinect sensor would presumably become an expensive doorstop.
Responding to the reader’s concern, Whitten stated: “like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in, although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.”
If, however, you’d rather keep Kinect plugged-in so that on the off-chance of you wanting to makes use of it you don’t need to faff with wires behind your TV, Whitten also revealed a suite of privacy options that have been baked into the new Xbox One OS.
You’ll be able to turn Kinect off completely. “When in this mode,” Whitten explained, “the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work. We still support using it for IR blasting in this mode.”
Further simplifying things, the moment you enter into a situation where Kinect is required, your Xbox One will prompt you and ask you whether you’d like to turn Kinect back on before continuing.
It seems that as we draw ever closer to the Xbox One release date, Microsoft is ensuring that all of the knee-jerk concerns that were raised at the console’s reveal, will be completely removed. Is that a good thing, or a development stifling thing? Or are they just making sure the console is perceived as one that has options for the consumer, and not one that comes with a list of “forced features” on Microsoft’s behalf?