Xbox Music wasn’t Microsoft’s only media-related E3 reveal. The software giant also announced a new platform called Xbox SmartGlass, which aims to seemly integrate the Xbox service with tablets and smartphones. An uninformed observer might make the analogy to Apple’s AirPlay or Nintendo’s Wii U, but SmartGlass is much more ambitious. It’s also completely cross-platform, supporting Windows 8, Windows Phone, Android, and iOS.
The successor to the Xbox Companion app, SmartGlass makes your smartphone or tablet an extension of your TV. Like the Xbox Companion, SmartGlass will allow you to immediately begin playing games, apps, music, and video on your Xbox 360. It will also act as a controller for the console, allowing you to navigate the dashboard and even browse the internet using IE on Xbox. This, however, is only the beginning. SmartGlass will act as a second screen, turning your smartphone or tablet into the ultimate companion device. How exactly this works will change based on the form of media, but “imagine having the ability to pick your plays from your tablet instead of the TV screen during an intense game of Madden,” says Marc Whitten, Corporate Vice President of Xbox LIVE. Or maybe you’re watching a TV show or movie and want to interact with what you’re experiencing, pulling up technical details like trivia or the cast/crew, voting in live events, or even checking out in-universe information like the current location of characters on a fictional map. It’s almost too good to be true.
In the words of Microsoft, “[SmartGlass] makes your tablet or your phone more intuitive, so if you are watching a movie or playing a game on Xbox 360, relevant content will automatically appear on your SmartGlass device.” The Redmond-based software giant plans to make this fantastic platform available to consumers this fall through the Xbox SmartGlass app on Windows 8 PCs and tablets, as well as on Windows Phone. It will also be accessible through the My Xbox app on iOS and Android. Microsoft has already managed to revolutionize the living room entertainment experience with the Xbox 360. Will the company be able to do it again with Xbox SmartGlass? I certainly think so.