Recently, Microsoft released the new SmartGlass app. It’s designed to give you control of your Xbox 360. But it does much more than that. Microsoft may have managed to develop an app that may make the Xbox 360 an infinitely more popular console. Here are a few reasons why.
It’s an Extra Controller
Wireless controllers are $50 a pop. Now that you can control your Xbox 360 from your phone, your friends can bring their own controllers. And as they learn to get used to the touchscreen controls and lack of a joystick you’ll have a temporary advantage.
And if they don’t have the SmartGlass app, setting it up right before you play is no problem. Just download the app, turn on the Xbox 360 and sign in to its account. The app will immediately recognize the device.
Better Internet Browsing
Browsing the web with your Xbox controller is a pain. Using your phone’s keyboard via SmartGlass makes it much easier to enter URLs and long download codes. If it weren’t easier to just browse through your phone, it could turn your Xbox 360 into your secondary browser via Internet Explorer. But, of course, you have to search through Bing.
A More Immersive Gaming Experience
This feature is still developing. But SmartGlass is designed to increase your gaming experience by offering increased functionality. There are GPS maps for the game Forza Horizon (Although it only works on Windows Phone 8). In Ascend: New Gods, SmartGlass allows you to access a continually-updated map of your surroundings and offers more details on characters and enemies.
But so far, Forza Horizon, Ascend:New Gods and Home Run Stars are the only games that have SmartGlass enhancements. But Microsoft is working on expanding this function as we speak. There’s already word of a new karaoke game that will let you choose any song you want — not just those available via the game. And EA’s Madden 13 will allow you to use your phone or tablet as a playbook so that the other players can’t see your plays until they are played out on the screen.
Behind-the-Scenes Information on TV Shows and Movies
SmartGlass is designed to be a second-screen experience for games as well as television shows and movies. For example, if you hover your SmartGlass display over individual cities in Westeros during the opening credits of Game of Thrones a more detailed version of the map appears.
Most shows and movies come with a scene-by-scene guide so you can skip right to the part of the show that you want to see. When media is playing, you can access extra information such as cast artwork and other relevant details. Pause a scene and you’ll get a cast list of everyone who’s currently on the screen.
Easy Swiping from Device to Device
When you’re watching a show or movie on TV via your Xbox 360, SmartGlass lets you swipe it to your device so that you can take it with you to the next room. You can also save your place, close the media and bring it right back to the same spot on another device.
Better Social Interaction
Via Xbox Live, social interaction is pretty great. An animated version of your Xbox Live avatar will pop up on screen. And there are lots more ways to customize their appearance. The display will also show an easy-to-browse list of your friends and you can page them on their Xboxes via SmartGlass even if the other Xbox 360 isn’t connected to SmartGlass.
Xbox SmartGlass is still new and already it has a lot of potential to significantly expand the Xbox 360 experience. We can’t wait for developers to run with this. But right now, it’s availability is limited. You can only find Xbox SmartGlass on Android and Windows 8 (and so far it only works on phones. Let us know if you’ve had any luck getting it to work on tablets).
For iOS you’ll have to wait until “early 2013”. SmartGlass should come to Windows Phone 8 a little bit earlier now that Windows phone 8 has officially been released.