How to Work with the HuluPlus Voice Commands
After you turn on your Xbox, navigating to HuluPlus is quick and easy:
- Say "Xbox Kinect" to navigate to the Kinect Hub, which is essentially your voice-controlled dashboard. HuluPlus is on the screen to the right, so simply say "Xbox Next" to bring the HuluPlus tile into view, as shown in Figure 1.
- Once the tile is on your screen, launch the HuluPlus app by hovering your hand over the tile, or do what I prefer and say "Xbox HuluPlus." Once HuluPlus loads, it presents a list of popular videos, displayed four per screen for gesture- and voice-controlled browsing, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 1 The Kinect Hub screen contains the HuluPlus tile.
Figure 2 The Popular screen appears first when you launch HuluPlus with your voice or gesture.
To browse HuluPlus by voice, you can say "Xbox Next" and "Xbox Previous." One nice feature to note: If you're browsing quickly, you don't have to keep repeating "Xbox Next," but instead just say "Next" each time. "Previous" works the same way in the opposite direction.
Unfortunately, there is a limit of 23 videos for voice- and gesture-controlled browsing. The last tile in the list of videos is the Browse All tile, as shown in Figure 3, which takes you to the screen where you can search across all videos (controller required). These search options include partial word search (think Google search) and browsing by various categories, such as Recently Added Movies, Recently Added Episodes, Popular Shows, and other such lists to help you find your desired video. (Ironically, you can say "Browse All" to get there before pulling out your controller.)
Figure 3 The last screen of voice-controlled browsing options.
Saying "Xbox" initializes the voice-command menu, which displays the list of commands HuluPlus is listening for you to say, as shown in Figure 4. From this point, you can speak any of the commands displayed in the command bar at the bottom of your screen. When in the voice-controlled browsing screen, you'll see a "Video x" (One, Two, Three, or Four) number under each title, to entice you to speak the generic name to launch the video. Although it's generic, there's a good reason for it to be generic: It works incredibly well! Within two seconds, the ever-so-comforting round loading spinner is spinning to your delight, while the first commercial begins to load. (More about the commercials later.) Functionally this system is indeed well implemented.
Figure 4 The voice command bar shows the commands for which HuluPlus is listening.
Once you've launched a video, your voice-command options change in a logical way. Speak "Xbox," and you'll see Pause, Fast Forward, Rewind, Next, Previous, Stop, Go Back, and Cancel. Most of these commands are self-explanatory; Next and Previous provide a skip feature to let you skip ahead to the next or back to the previous segment of the show. Saying "Go Back" takes you back to the voice-controlled browsing menu from which you launched the video, and saying "Cancel" hides the voice-control menu. Figure 5 shows the voice commands available while a video is playing.
Figure 5 The voice commands logically change once you start watching a video.
Another shift in the available voice commands for HuluPlus occurs when you say "Xbox Fast Forward" or "Xbox Rewind," as shown in Figure 6. As you might expect, the appropriate options are Faster, Slower, Play, Pause, Stop, Go Back, and Cancel.
Figure 6 Voice commands available during fast-forward or rewind.
Although you might think otherwise, fast-forwarding with voice commands is very natural and easy. Once in fast-forward mode, if you say "Faster," the speed jumps from 4X to 8X. Saying "Faster" again increases the speed to 16X, and the same incremental pattern continues up to a maximum of 128X. If you fast-forward all the way to the end of the video, you'll end up back at the menu from which you launched the video.