Xbox One instant switching, Snap Mode features offer multitasking power

Snap mode for Xbox One
Snap mode for Xbox One brings about multitasking

The Xbox One will hit shelves with instant switching and Snap Mode, two multitasking features that will prove Microsoft's new console can rub its belly and pat itself on the head at the same.

Instant switching, demoed for the first time at the Microsoft Xbox One press conference today, can be triggered with voice controls like "Xbox, watch TV."

"Xbox, game," said Microsoft senior vice president Yusuf Mehdi, which switched to a Forza Motorsport 5 before being commanded to switch back and then onto something else. "Go to TV, go to music."

Xbox One's instant switching feature resulted in some applause and cheers from the crowd up until he asked the console to switch to Internet Explorer browser, which drew considerably less applause.

Previously, systems like the Xbox 360 often forced users to exit to the dashboard to open up a new app or program on the console. This first-world problem seems solved on Xbox One.

Snap Mode for real multitasking

Instant Switching on the Xbox One is nice, but it's more like Apple's brand of multitasking. True multitasking comes in the form of Snap Mode.

"Have you ever wanted to do more than one thing at a time when watching TV?" asked Mehdi, who answered his own rhetorical question with "Of course you have."

While playing a movie, he commanded the system to open up the Xbox's web browser by saying "Xbox, Snap Mode Internet Explorer."

He then demoed the ability to watch a Star Trek: Into Darkness trailer, and surf the web ordering tickets to the new movie before turning to Skyping with a colleague with Snap Mode.

This new multitasking feature will also enable Xbox One owners to shut down one these simultaneously running programs without having to exit what they're doing on the new console.

Matt Swider