Yesterday we posted a rumour that Microsoft would be unveiling something dubbed the “Xbox LIVE Companion” app. It turns out that the rumour was close, except that the app is actually called SmartGlass, which was until now thought to be the app’s codename.
Revealed during Microsoft’s E3 press event, SmartGlass is an application that will allow your iOS, Android or Windows phones and tablets to talk to your Xbox 360. This we knew, but it’s the examples that Microsoft showed off that indicate just how much potential there is.
Instead of relying on new hardware, Microsoft is planning to utilise that which people already have. It’s great news for us as the consumers because it negates any hardware purchases. Instead, our smartphones and tablets, together with our Xbox 360 consoles, are about to become extensions of everything we use our hi-def TVs for.
Unfortunately, not all of the features shown off will be readily available for us here in South Africa. For example, Microsoft showed SmartGlass being used in conjunction with an episode of Game of Thrones streaming via the HBO Go service. With SmartGlass running on your tablet, you’d get information on the episode you’re currently watching. What sort of information would vary, but the example provided showed an interactive map of Westeros that shifted as the episode changed locations very handy for keeping track of what’s happening where.
Insofar as gaming goes, examples using Madden and Halo 4 were provided. With SmartGlass and your tablet, you’d be able to design new football plays on your small screen, which would then transfer onto your TV to play out in-game. The Halo 4 example featured Halo Waypoint content unlocking as you progressed through the story. Furthermore, messages from friends indicating that they wanted to play multiplayer would also appear on your SmartGlass enabled tablet. All you’d need to do is accept the multiplayer invite and your game would save your single-player progress before switching over to multiplayer.
With SmartGlass, Microsoft will also be bringing Internet Explorer to the Xbox 360. Utilising your phone as a touch-based controller will make website navigation a lot easier than an Xbox 360 controller. Furthermore, the touchscreen keyboards found on tablet devices like iPads will make typing a whole lot easier during web browsing.
These are early examples of what SmartGlass will bring to the table, but they’re indicative of some really exciting things. When exactly the app will be available has not been mentioned, but it will be featured in upcoming Windows 8 as well.
You can check out the SmartGlass segment of the Microsoft E3 event below.