Microsoft is introducing SmartGlass and it is coming to Xbox 360 and it looks sweet. It has been one of the few things I was impressed about from this years E3 2012. And those who know me know I am not a huge fan of Xbox or Microsoft in general so for them to do something that impresses me means alot. Read more to find out what SmartGlass is all about.
What is Xbox SmartGlass?
Microsoft touts this as your “Companion for your Xbox”. SmartGlass is a new way for you to integrate your multimedia and gaming experience from your Xbox with your existing Smartphone or Tablet. With SmartGlass you will not only be able to control your Xbox but it will enhance your gaming or multimedia experience!
Take Control of Your Xbox
Now you will be able to use your Smartphone or Tablet to control your Xbox. I know I hate shouting at it with the Kinect currently. When you have a 2 year old son like I do – nothing can get more frustrating then saying a command then having my son repeat it! (Although it is cute) So this feature will be a great addition for me personally.
Browse the Internet
You will be able to use your Smartphone or Tablet as a controller to browse the internet on your Xbox. Now that Xbox will finally be providing Internet Explorer and Bing onto the Console. Use “Pinch and Zoom” to zoom in on content. Be able to quickly search and explore web content easily without the need for a keyboard! We will need to wait and see how easy it truly is when it is released – but it looks a LOT better than the current browsing experience I get with my PS3 (ugh!)
Search for Movies or TV Shows
With SmartGlass you now get a “universal” search for trying to find movies or TV shows. When you type in a TV show or Movie you wish to watch it will popup with a list of possible options. Then when you click on it you will get a list of available options on how to view it. So if it is available on Netflix, Hulu (Plus), or any of the other many other options Microsoft now supports its as easy as a click away. You can then click on the application (lets say Netflix) and it will automatically open up and start playing it.
Movies, TV, and Music
Enhanced Viewing Experience
Now – I don’t know how integrated this will be. But in the demo at E3 they showed an episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones. While the show was playing on the TV the Tablet showed a current map of where the characters were going along with other interesting information about the show and the time period.
What is cool about this is that your device is supposed to be automatically updated to whatever is being viewed on your TV.
It will be interesting to see if other providers/movie studios will start offering customized content only found for Xbox. This could be awesome! Of course it could be yet another way for Microsoft to display unwanted ads onto your device while your watching your favorite movies or tv shows.
Seamless Viewing Experience?
The other cool feature was the ability to switch from your device back to the TV which looked like a pretty seamless and painless process. In the demo they were watching Sherlock Holmes on a tablet. The movie was paused – then was picked up on the Xbox and resumed from where the action left off on the Tablet. I’m sure our home experience will not be quite as seamless but this is a cool feature nonetheless.
There was a little mention of enhancing your gaming experience with SmartGlass as well. Being able to use your Smartphone or Tablet as an enhanced controller with Halo4? Or using it as a Playbook for games like Madden13? We will need to wait and see what the folks over at Microsoft can cook up.
This is a little vague. But I can assume that if you have your Xbox either loaded full of music or part of your Windows 7 Network and have actually managed to queue up your (250 gigs!) music collection. Then you will be able to stream your music easily from your Tablet, Smartphone, or Xbox. I can tell you that although I do use the Xbox for streaming music on my TV currently – it was a PAIN to have it queue up my music collection for the first time over my slow 10/100mb network. Either way this looks pretty sweet since I won’t have to have any physical media on my devices and can keep it all centralized on one computer!
Who Can Get This?
First things you will need is an Xbox Gold Subscription and an Xbox of course! Then you will need any Android, Apple, or Windows 8 Smartphone or Tablet to integrate with your Xbox*. The software when released will be available from Google Play (Android), Apple iTunes (Apple), and through Microsoft’s Store (Windows 8).
* Please note I don’t have confirmation but it would be my guess for the following needed to run SmartGlass software:
- Android will need at least 2.2 Froyo or higher – with most likely a preference for 2.3 Gingerbread or 2.4 Ice Cream Sandwich for it to run correctly.
- Apple users will most likely need an iPhone 4 or 4s and an iPad 2 or higher.
When Do We Get it?
From the Xbox site it states it will be available this “Holiday Season 2012”. Unfortunately no hard release date is available at this time.
Check out the video below outlining what Microsoft is planning for Xbox. Although it touches on other things other than SmartGlass – you will see a lot of the basic concepts I talked about.
What do you folks think about Microsofts SmartGlass? Is this going to finally be true integration with your console? Or do you think it is going to be another gimmick to try and get your purchase more subscriptions to services we don’t need?
Leave a comment below to let me know what you think!