Microsoft focusing on handheld gaming support with new Xbox compact mode

Microsoft has announced a new UI update to the Xbox app aimed at improving the app’s user experience on small Windows-based handheld gaming PCs — like the ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go. This new layout, called “compact mode,” collapses the left sidebar into icons, giving players more space to browse content. It’s not a massive update, but it is one step forward in Microsoft’s efforts to improve Windows 11’s handheld gaming experience.

If you are not familiar with the Xbox app, it is the hub for all of Microsoft’s gaming content on Windows and is the place where you can purchase PC games, as well as gain access to Xbox Game Pass. To the left of the home screen is a sidebar that shows you all of your most recently played games and gives you easy accessibility to Game Pass, your Library, cloud streaming, and the Xbox store.

(Image credit: Future)

With Xbox’s new compact mode, the entire sidebar collapses into a size nearly 4x smaller compared to its default size. If you use the Xbox app on a desktop or laptop, this might not seem like a big difference, but it translates into a noticeably different experience on handheld devices. Accessibility is not compromised with compact mode, you can still access all of the aforementioned options, the only difference with compact mode is the lack of name tags accompanying each icon.

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