The best apps on Xbox One
Sure, technically you can use your Xbox One without connecting it to the internet, but if you did you'd be missing out on tons of great apps. Want to watch the latest movies and TV shows? The Xbox One has an app for that. Want more free games or a way to make your existing ones even better? There's an Xbox One app for that, too.
However, with over 75 apps to choose from (many of which require additional subscription fees), picking the right ones can be daunting. This is why we've created the TechRadar guide to the best Xbox One apps in the world right now. We'll keep this best-of list constantly updated with the newest apps you should download, and if we've left off your favorite, let us know in the comments section.
Without further ado, let's dive right in.
If there was a Mount Rushmore of video streaming apps, Netflix would be George Washington. The formerly mail-only DVD rental service has grown astronomically in the last half-decade, and now the video streaming service works with almost every new device that has (or can connect to) a screen. Of course, it works with the Xbox One and is available to download via the Xbox Marketplace.
Nowadays, Netflix offers so much more than just thousands of classic movies and TV shows: it's a network unto itself premiering new shows on a near-weekly basis. The best part? You never have to wait a week to watch the next episode!
What's it cost? New streaming-only subscriptions run $8.99 per month (£5.99 for standard definition in the UK, £6.99 for high definition), but you're bound to get dozens of hours of entertainment for your dollar. Looking for suggestions? Check out our list of the best Netflix TV shows.
Hulu Plus (US only)
If you're thinking of cutting the cord and letting cable television drift away forever, Hulu Plus is a great way to supplant that DVR full of modern shows. While a large amount of Hulu Plus' content is network shows you can pull down with an external antennae, if you want the content on demand without the worry of a weak signal, you can use Hulu Plus to catch up on the best shows from NBC, ABC, Comedy Central, USA, SyFy and much more. There are a handful of BBC programs, though Hulu Plus is only available in the US. It also offers some of the greatest movies of all time due to owning exclusive streaming rights for the Criterion Collection.
What's it cost? While you can watch plenty of shows for free on Hulu's website, getting access to Hulu's content on devices like the Xbox One will run you $7.99 per month. Hulu Plus does air ads during its programming, with the average program showing about 3 minutes of commercials per half-hour show. That said, it's far less than you'd have to deal with watching live TV.
NFL on Xbox One
Short of NASCAR and the PGA Tour, every major American sport has a streaming service where you can watch live and archived versions of previously completed games. While we very well might add some of the other major leagues to this list at a later date, we have to give props to the best service for the US' most popular sport: the NFL on Xbox One. While you are occasionally subject to blackouts when local teams are playing a nationally-televised game, NFL on Xbox One is pretty thorough otherwise.
With live games airing via NFL Sunday Ticket alongside constantly updated scores, standings, and stats, plus some pretty robust fantasy football integration, you can get a lot of awesome football action from your Xbox One via this app.
What's it cost? Get ready for a bit of sticker shock. A subscription to NFL Sunday Ticket (which lets you stream full games on Xbox One) starts at $240 for a season. If you want to stream on more than just your Xbox One, it jumps to $330. However, when you consider that you get dozens of hours of entertainment every week for four months, it will easily pay for itself if you're a big NFL fan.
Back in the day (and by that we mean early 2014), watching the biggest WWE matches on pay-per-view was a major financial investment that only the most hardcore fans would take. The three-hour monthly shows would run in the $45-$55 range, so most fans had to pick and choose their pay-per-views. Perhaps realizing the PPV model was becoming outdated, WWE established the WWE Network, an online-only channel that streams every previous PPV event (including WWE, WCW and ECW), original programming like documentaries and reality shows, and, of course, WWE's monthly extravaganzas like WrestleMania, Summerslam and the Royal Rumble.
What's it cost? WWE doesn't hide its pricing structure in the slightest. Rare is it that an hour goes by on WWE programming without a single utterance of "$9.99" (£9.99 in the UK), the monthly cost of a subscription. If you're a huge wrestling fan, it pays for itself, but that low price point without any long-term commitment makes the WWE Network a pretty fantastic value for lapsed fans as well.
The original and best video streaming service has become more than just three-minute videos of cats yawning and people falling. YouTube has grown immeasurably since it started a decade ago, to the point where artists are able to make a living by creating long-form programming on the world's most popular video site. From video podcasts to "Let's Play" walkthroughs of video games, there's plenty of stuff you can watch for long periods of time on any device ... including Xbox One.
What's it cost? YouTube is free to download and watch, though some creators (mostly movie studios) do charge rental fees for their programming. Be warned: YouTube video creators have the option to attach advertising to their content, which they often exercise.
HBO Go (US only)
You'd be hard-pressed to find a network with the programming pedigree of HBO. While the channel is still a haven of recent hit movies, Home Box Office's real draw is the many amazing shows it's aired over the years.
HBO Go is a service that collects a good swath of recent movies and almost every major program that's aired on the channel since the late '90s. From classics like The Sopranos and The Wire to modern hits like Girls and Game of Thrones, there may be no greater collection of on-demand TV shows than what you can find on HBO Go. Now if they could just add Mr. Show...
What's it cost? We've got a bit of bad news for you. HBO Go for the Xbox One is currently only available to US customers who subscribe to the HBO channel on cable. Fortunately, most cable operators offer basic packages that carry local broadcasts networks and HBO for a reasonable price (usually in the $20-a-month range). HBO has announced a standalone option called HBO Now, set to debut exclusively on Apple TV in April, but it won't be available on non-Apple devices until July at the earliest.
FXNOW (US only)
The streaming service for Fox's popular cable network offers access to many episodes of modern hits like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Justified, as well as classics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and How I Met Your Mother, but let's be real: the big draw for FXNOW is Simpsons World, an archive of the 560-plus episodes of the Simpsons, dating back from the 1989 premiere to last week's new episode. A backlog that big can be daunting, so thankfully there's curated lists from The Simpsons' top writers and clips to get a feel for specific episodes.
What's it cost? Unfortunately, FXNOW and Homer Simpson's vocabulary have one thing in common: lots of "D'oh!" If you want to access FXNOW on Xbox One, you have to subscribe to the cable channel, which typically involves a mid-tier subscription running $30-$50 per month, depending on the cable provider. Still, it's an attractive alternative to buying every new season of the Simpsons on DVD.
Streaming video games can be fun, but it's often a lot harder than it looks. At the very basic level, you need to find a computer powerful enough to multitask both a resource-intensive game and a high-bandwidth stream. If you want your voice and image included, you need a pricey camera and microphone. Fortunately, there's an easier way to get a decent-quality stream running without ever leaving your couch. If you've got a Kinect attached to your Xbox One, all it takes are a few button clicks and voilà! You'll be uploading picture-in-picture broadcasts of playthroughs for almost any Xbox One game you own.
What's it cost? You can watch other ad-supported streams live on Twitch via Xbox One for no charge, though if you want to stream yourself, you need to be an Xbox Live Gold subscriber ($60/£40 per year). Twitch also has a premium subscription service called Twitch Turbo that eliminates ads for anything you watch and maintains a deeper archive of streams you make for a few dollars a month.
As long as you're not a stickler for getting new titles on their release dates, you can get plenty of amazing ones for the cost of a used game by subscribing to various services. For example, subscribers to Xbox Live (Xbox's online play service) get a new Games With Gold release each month that's free to play as long as they continue paying for Xbox Live.
However, this isn't the only publisher giving out bonus games. EA Access gives subscribers full downloads of a majority of games from Electronic Arts' Xbox One catalog (usually every game that's more than six months old), and those games not part of "The Vault" can be purchased at a 10% discount.
What's it cost? If you want to test the waters of EA Access, you can subscribe to the service for a $5/£4 a month, but you can score a pretty substantial half-off discount if you sign up for a year because a 12-month commitment is only $30/£19.99. Considering that many of the games in The Vault sell for $30 alone, it's an app worth paying for if you're a fan of EA's sports games and shooters.
If you're a long-time Xbox user, you know how addictive Achievements can be. When they're used properly, they can add a lot of variety to your favorite games, challenging you to tackle them in a brand new way.
Unfortunately, developers still screw up Achievements from time to time, giving outrageous amounts of Gamerscore for performing simple actions or doling out a pittance for true tests of gamer skill. Fortunately, the 100G you won for a single level or the 5G you earned beating a game on Extreme Mode is equalized when you load up TrueAchievments. Using data mined from millions of gamers, TrueAchievements gives extra points to tougher Achievements and less for the cakewalks.
What's it cost? TrueAchievements is free, though the cost of seeing how little those Avatar: The Last Airbender "Achievements" actually matter might tax your ego.