(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

If you haven't used a game console in the last few years, you might not be aware of all the things they're capable of beyond the core gaming experience. In addition to that, most of them can now act as entertainment devices. You can stream Netflix, Hulu, or Spotify; play 4K Blu-rays with Dolby Vision HDR; rent flicks from Vudu, Sony, Microsoft, Google, and others; and cast media from your phone to your TV.

Today, ONMSFT reports that the YouTube app for Xbox One has gotten some welcome aesthetic updates that also bring its design more in line with Google's apps elsewhere. For example, the square play/pause button is now a circle, and all controls have been increased in size for a "10-foot interface."

SEE: YouTube 'Origin' star Tom Felton shares his favorite apps

The interface has that name because 10 feet is the default distance between your couch and the TV screen that's used by home entertainment app developers to decide how to scale on-screen buttons and icons for maximum legibility and usability. While an app's buttons may need to be compact when on the screen of a mobile phone, that scaling doesn't look good or perform well on a big-screen TV in the family room.

In addition to rescaled 10-foot controls, what happens when you reach the end of a video has also changed. Now you get something that looks a lot more like Netflix or Hulu, with a large preview image at the top of the screen and gallery rows of related/recommended videos below that.

Overall, though, you may still prefer to navigate YouTube on your phone and then cast your chosen video to the YouTube app on your Xbox. This way, you can take advantage of certain features in the mobile app, such as voice search and faster access to the channel content for which you've used a notification bell. Then you can use either your phone or the Xbox gamepad to play, pause, fast forward, or skip to another video.

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However, in our experience with the Xbox One, the console has to already be on, if you want your phone to detect it for casting. If your TV has a built-in YouTube app, or you have a streaming box with the app installed, casting can "wake" these devices for you, making them the more convenient option.

To access this section of the mobile app, tap the Inbox button at the bottom, then tap the Notifications tab back up at the top. This will show you all of your bell notifications in order of recentness.

Black Friday should bring the Xbox One S below $200 if you're looking to take the plunge, and unlike the PlayStation consoles, it also plays 4K Blu-rays (with Dolby Vision or HDR10 when supported).

However, the One S is noticeably underpowered for games, since its internal components are basically five years old at this point. For 4K HDR console gaming, Microsoft's better choice is the Xbox One X, which launched at $500 last year but will probably dip below $400 on Black Friday.

Takeaways

  • The YouTube app for the Xbox One game console has gotten updated with larger buttons and a new interface for when you reach the end of a video.
  • The larger buttons should be better for people watching YouTube from the comfort of their couch.

See also

Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.