Xbox is rolling out new features ahead of general availability (GA), patch release notes dated August 6 reveal. Developers are offering Xbox Insiders with Alpha Skip-Ahead Ring exclusive access into the platform’s new Night Mode: select members can now toggle brightness levels and enable a blue light filter for those with photosensitivity issues. High Dynamic Range (HDR), which permits a wider variety of color detail and makes images more lifelike, may similarly be disabled. Members now have the option to dim their screens, as well as the console power button and the controller LED light.
We have The Verge’s Tom Warren to thank for this fantastic news. Since the build is only available for Xbox Insiders with Alpha Skip-Ahead Ring, the announcement should not have reached the public at all, much less trended. And yet here we are. Customization is reportedly comprehensive. Check out Warren’s demo video on Twitter:
Night Mode is currently only available for console users with Alpha Skip-Ahead access. Windows 10 players are exempt for the time being. But it’s not all bad news for PC stalwarts. Those with Xbox capability can now use Xbox Cloud Gaming, or xCloud, via the Xbox app. PC users previously had to log in to a browser to access xCloud and open a beta website, which was not only inefficient but also tedious. Technology is all about making personal computing more convenient — narrow the gap, so to speak.
The Xbox Insider Program is a complex feedback system that allows the platform’s most dedicated users to access builds and features way in advance, working in close sync with developers to better the Xbox experience. Members are encouraged to praise elements that work while also pointing out glaring flaws in the system. Players have varying levels of accessibility, however, and these are categorized into “rings.” Since May, Alpha Skip-Ahead Ring is classified as the highest — and most exclusive.
Every Xbox user is free to become an Insider but often starts out at the preview ring with the least amount of access. The lowest is currently Omega. This ring is open to everybody regardless of tier and will supply players with system updates shortly before release. A step above is Delta; it’s available to users level two or higher in the Insider Program and will require the applicant to have already been using the platform for at least one month. Beta is offered to members with at least 3 months’ worth of tenure and are currently at level five or higher in the program. The next stage, Alpha, is invite-only and used to be the most exclusive ring before Alpha Skip-Ahead was introduced in May. The key difference between Alpha and Beta is the schedule; Alpha members receive the next public OS earlier than Beta users, but otherwise have access to the same thing.
The Alpha Skip-Ahead Ring takes Alpha several paces ahead of the pack by offering preview builds and features related to future Xbox Operating Systems (OS), rather than simply the next available patch. This is the most involved an Xbox Insider could be with regards to system improvements. The ring was originally invite-only like Alpha, but is now open to any Xbox user of any level or preview ring status; interested players may fill out a form, with a catch — there’s no guarantee of acceptance. But it is better than nothing. The Xbox users affiliated with the Alpha Skip-Ahead Ring are the ones privy to future OS builds like the Night Mode feature. And Tom Warren is presumably a member.
Xbox will officially be sending out these features as soon as they’re launch-ready. Night Mode specifically is currently on limited access. If you’re subscribed to Alpha Skip-Ahead Ring, lucky you. The option is already viewable on consoles.