June 12, 2012

Xbox Looks To SmartGlass To Rule Living Room

Derek Walter for redOrbit.com

With this fall´s launch of SmartGlass, Microsoft is hoping that more Xbox enthusiasts will pull their consoles out of the man cave and into the living room. The forthcoming mobile app was unveiled at the gaming super conference E3 with plans to bring it into full-force this fall.

The concept behind SmartGlass is that it can extend gaming content or programming onto a smartphone or tablet. The demonstrations showed a user beginning a game on one´s tablet and then picking up right where it paused on an Xbox.

Or those watching a movie or TV show can engage in the programming with live and interactive content. A popular example is the one being shown off on the Xbox site: drawing up plays in Madden with a tablet before executing them on the virtual field against other Xbox gamers.

The Xbox is seeking to be a central hub for games, movies, television, and other entertainment. Just as more and more TV shows have accompanying mobile apps, SmartGlass would take it one further by instantly connecting with your programming and offering a variety of interactive experiences.

For this to work, SmartGlass is designed to always be in sync with what is going on with your Xbox. Microsoft has described it as being “aware” of the goings on, so you would not need to specifically open a specific app for the particular program or game that you are involved with. It would sync with your Xbox Gamertag and be a portable companion to your gaming and entertainment.

Microsoft has not revealed which platforms SmartGlass will work on. According to its website, the application will be available for “devices you already own.” Considering the bulk of smartphone and tablet users that are on iOS or Android, there is hope that you won´t need a Windows Phone to get your hands on this latest technology.

This cross-platform strategy would play into Microsoft seeking to build a more broad-based entertainment hub. Yusuf Mehdi, who leads marketing for Microsoft, told the Seattle Times that Xbox was transitioning from a “gaming console for hard-core gamers to more of a broad entertainment platform where service and multidevice [support] and media become front and center."

To provide some more details, Microsoft described SmartGlass with the following statement after it was unveiled at E3:

"Xbox SmartGlass is a free application for Windows Phones, Windows 8 and other portable devices. By delivering companion content and control to enhance your experiences on the Xbox console, Xbox SmartGlass makes enjoying TV, movies and music, web surfing, and playing games even better. Imagine that your tablet or phone knew what you were watching on TV and presented bonus features without you having to lift a finger. Xbox SmartGlass turns any TV into the ultimate smart TV."