At their E3 press conference today, Microsoft announced an app called SmartGlass that will allow you to use your smartphone or tablet in conjunction with an Xbox 360. They showed a number of different uses for the app, including letting gamers use a device as a second screen as they play a game on the Xbox 360. The app will launch on various platforms, including iOS, this fall.
Probably of most interest to our readers, Microsoft showed how the SmartGlass app can be used for gaming. First they showed a football game being played on an Xbox on a TV, and the player using a tablet to pick plays or even create new plays on the fly. They also showed how it will be used in Halo 4, as a second screen to display supplemental data. When the player reached a certain location in the campaign, a notification popped up onscreen, letting the player know that new data was available. The player could then look at his or her tablet to see information about the new location.
Image courtesy of TechCrunch.
They also showed the SmartGlass app being used to control the Internet Explorer web browser, which is also coming to Xbox 360 this fall. In this demo, it looked like you could browse the web using the SmartGlass app, and your Xbox 360 would mirror the websites on your TV screen, similar to how Apple’s AirPlay feature works.
The last feature they previewed was that you can start watching a show or movie on your tablet or smart phone, and continue it where you left off on your TV screen. When you transfer the video your TV screen, your tablet or smart phone can then show supplemental information about what you’re watching. They illustrated this concept by showing a scene from Game of Thrones on HBO Go on the TV, while the tablet showed a map of where the scene was taking place in Westeros. This is pretty similar to what you can already do in the HBO Go app, which we’ve discussed in detail here.
It’s pretty obvious that the SmartGlass app and its potential uses are a direct response to Nintendo’s Wii U tablet controller, which seems like it will offer many of the same features. We’re also glad to see that it’s coming to most, if not all, tablet and smartphone platforms, so you don’t have to buy a new input device if you already have a smart phone or tablet.