Ypulse Essentials: Xbox Is The Future Of TV, Google+'s 17%, Sony's Pre-Release Digital Downloads

Xbox Live Microsoft is billing its upgrade of the Xbox Live platform (as the “future of TV.” The new user interface comes with a wealth of content from video partners, including 26 live channels from Verizon Fios, thousands of On Demand options from Comcast, apps for networks like Syfy, an improved Netflix app, and a new YouTube app. Oh, and there’s also cloud storage for a better video experience, as well as to enable users to access their media on any Xbox they sign into. The Xbox is looking less and less like a gaming device, and more like a media server on steroids. The update officially rolls out to users tomorrow. Here’s a walk through showing the interface and improved voice controls. This system is definitely built with Millennials in mind. Of course, Apple is also planning to revolutionize the home screen with iTV. There’s not doubt that Apple wins having iTunes vs. Microsoft’s Zune, but Xbox has an advantage with 56 million Xboxes out there already. Who do you think will win the war?) (VentureBeat) (The Verge) (Advance TV)

- Here’s an infographic about Google+ users (but the most interesting stat by far is that a mere 17% of those with accounts on the site are active users. Time for a new catch phrase: We are the 83%... In other social media news, Facebook has reportedly acquired Gowalla, a social check-in site similar to Foursquare, which means it may have plans to make its Places Deals revolution a reality) (PR Daily) (Telegraph)

- Hailee Steinfeld may not have landed the role of Katniss in ‘Hunger Games’ (but she’s won another coveted role in Hollywood: that of Petra Arkanian in the film adaptation of “Ender’s Game,” the story of future children being groomed to lead Earth’s army in an epic interstellar battle. Elsewhere in movie news, Sony has announced it will be making another movie available for digital download in advance of the DVD release. “Moneyball” will be available online two weeks prior to the hard copy release. From past experiments with “Bad Teacher” and other films, Sony says making digital copies available before the DVD has increased its digital sales nearly 25%, while not adversely affecting the DVD sales. We’re sure Millennials would love to see more of this as they’re big fans of on-demand entertainment) (THR) (Deadline Hollywood)

- We’re intrigued by Toygaroo, the Netflix for toys… (The service sends boxes of toy rentals — for example, a box of four — that can be exchanged every 60 days. It’s a huge help for parents in tight times, but it’s also a great idea because kids outgrow or become bored with toys almost as fast as they outgrow clothes) (The Consumerist)

- PlumWillow is putting the social back in shopping (for its 25,000 tween members. It allows friends to share finds and get feedback, to pull together virtual outfits — right down to the makeup and perfume — and then purchase them, and play fun fashion games. We’re not tweens, but we could spend hours on the site playing “dress up”) (WWD)

- It’s official. Madonna will perform the halftime show (at the Super Bowl, which is sure to be quite the extravaganza thanks to Cirque du Soleil getting involved. Hopefully the material girl will be able to avoid an epic fail along the lines of the Black Eyed Peas performance last year. We assume she won’t start the gig by tweeting from the stage) (NY Mag)

- Amazon has debuted an app for iPad and Kindle Fire (that allows kids to create their holiday wishlists culled from a collection of 500,000 toys, games, movies, TV shows, and more. There’s just one problem, how’s a kid gonna create their wishlist when the Fire and iPad are on their wishlists because they don’t have one yet?) (PSFK)

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