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Can Microsoft revolutionize TV before Apple?
Apple reportedly has a game-changing TV in the works. But with a new voice-control Xbox feature, Microsoft may have beaten its competitor to the punch
 
On Tuesday, Microsoft released a new Xbox 360 feature that allows users to search TV shows using their voice or hand gestures.
On Tuesday, Microsoft released a new Xbox 360 feature that allows users to search TV shows using their voice or hand gestures.
CC BY: IntelFreePress

The race is on to revolutionize television. Before Steve Jobs died, the Apple visionary told his biographer that he wanted to change the way we interact with our TVs, just as Jobs did with music players, personal computers, and cell phones. "I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use... I've finally cracked it," he said. Since that revelation, rumors have swirled that a groundbreaking Apple television is on the horizon. On Sunday, the Australian website Smarthouse reported that Apple will launch a TV in late 2012 that can respond to voice commands. But Apple has competition. Thanks to an update to the Xbox 360, Xbox Bing, that's available Tuesday, Microsoft customers can now search TV and video content using only their voices or hand gestures. Microsoft has also announced new partnerships with HBO Go, YouTube, and UFC that will bring more content to Xbox Live. Who's winning the war to revolutionize TV?

Microsoft is leading the way: This is "an evolutionary step for the larger 'future of TV' debate," Gartner analyst Mike McGuire tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Xbox-Kinect elevates the whole TV-interface experience to a new level." The new XBox features are a clear challenge to Apple and Google, and this "definitely gives Microsoft an edge in the early stages of the battle for dominance in the digital living room."
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But there are still some bugs: This is "a promising (albeit imperfect) approach to the video search problem," says Matthew Moskovciak at CNET. But you have to be quite specific and loud with your voice commands. For instance, you'll have to articulately say, "Xbox Bing Parks and Recreation," not just "play the finale episode of Parks and Rec from season three." Still, it beats the tedium of having to type in the name of your show, and it's "pretty incredible" to be able to control your TV with your voice.
"Xbox's Bing video search is promising, but imperfect" 

This isn't a real revolution: "This particular future of television feels just a little familiar," says Graeme McMillan at TIME. Yes, controlling your TV with your voice and movement is "pretty cool," but the shows I'm watching are exactly the same. You still have to subscribe to HBO — or Netflix, or Hulu — to access their content. All your media isn't consolidated into one, easy-to-access place. The real future of TV will arrive "when we can pick and choose which channels and/or programs we want and, more importantly, not have to pay for those we don't want" — all without any extra devices sitting next to my TV. Apple, Google, your move.
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