After failing to acquire the popular $10 billion chat platform Discord, Microsoft opted for the next best option: directly integrating Discord’s voice chat capabilities into the Xbox console.
The news broke on Wednesday on the Xbox Blog, and it explains that access to Discord will currently be exclusive to the “Xbox Insider” extra tier of early, beta, and pre-release console OS updates. This update is available to Xbox Insiders today and adds a new tooltip to the system’s “chat” sidebar: “Try Discord Voice on Xbox today!”
Simplifying Your Discord Life Adds a Few Complications
Since its debut in 2015, Discord has gained popularity as a gaming-friendly chat platform on computers and smartphones. One of the main differences from a service like Slack, which looks and works the same, is Discord’s smart connection to existing gaming networks. The idea is that wherever you play a game, Discord can broadcast that status to friends via other platform API bindings (“playing To roam on PlayStation”, “LFP in World of Warcraft“streaming session peg 2 on Twitch). Users can switch between direct messages, game-specific text chats, real-time voice channels, and even video sharing services to coordinate their next online gaming sessions.
But what if you want to chat with your friends via Discord voice chat while using dedicated headphones on Xbox, PlayStation, or Switch? Until this week, you couldn’t do it directly on any console. Your best bet was to find a headset that supports simultaneous Bluetooth inputs and then connect it to both your console and smartphone with Discord. (Alternatively, you can do what I did: put your smartphone earpiece in one ear for Discord and then put your console earbuds on it. I don’t recommend this.)
Unfortunately, the rollout of Discord on Xbox is a bit limited this week. The biggest problem is that there is no official Discord app or interface on Xbox. You will need to keep your smartphone handy to initiate the “transfer” of your Discord session. Get ready for an annoying initial setup process.
If you have an updated Xbox on the Insider OS track, its new “Try Discord Voice” prompt will initiate the account sync process, which requires using the Discord mobile app to take a photo of the QR code displayed by your Xbox. (You’ll need to repeat this if you’ve done this before because it adds a new layer of voice chat credentials.) With this, when you’re about to join a voice channel on Discord, a new “try voice chat on console” prompt will appear.
Clicking on this will create another transfer to Microsoft’s dedicated Xbox app on iOS or Android. Yes, if you want this to work, you need to install the Xbox app on your mobile device (and Discord will prompt you to do so if you haven’t already). This facilitates the key technical aspect of forwarding all Discord audio to your Xbox hardware.
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