First Look: My Xbox Live for iPad

Microsoft recently released the My Xbox Live app for iOS, which allows Xbox 360 gamers to access their Xbox Live accounts on their iPads and iPhones. The app lets gamers view videos and news on the latest Xbox 360 happenings, browse through their games and achievements, and interact with their Xbox Live friends. While two of those three features aren’t that big of a deal, the app shines as a mobile social-networking extension of Xbox Live. Read on for some impressions and screens.

Before I get to my experience with My Xbox Live, here’s the official description:

Take your Xbox LIVE experience wherever you go with the My Xbox LIVE app. Track and compare your achievements, connect with your Xbox LIVE friends, and change up your 3D Avatar. Review all your recent great games you and your friends love to play and compare achievements with them. Jump into our games hub to learn about the latest LIVE games and apps. Access Xbox Spotlight feeds, get breaking news from Xbox LIVE, game tips and tricks, gamer spotlight and much more.

After installing the app and logging into my Xbox Live account, I felt like worlds were colliding. It was disorienting (but fun) to see Xbox 360 dashboard UI elements on my iPad. It was weird (but fun) to hear Xbox 360 sounds on my iPad. I immediately heard George Costanza screaming, “Worlds are colliding Jerry!!!” in my head.

The “Home” tab was completely straightforward. It had marketing videos and an Xbox Live profile to view. One of the videos featured my old colleague Scott Steinberg talking about his latest book. To be completely honest, this made me like the app a tad less because I don’t want Scott on my iPad. (I’m half-joking.)

The “Games” tab lets you view your game history and Xbox Live Achievements. Again, it’s pretty straightforward and not terribly exciting. It’s a good, basic feature that had to be included, but it’s not going to rock anyone’s world.

What really has me jazzed is the “Social” tab. You can do all sorts of interesting things here: send messages to friends, set beacons, change your avatar’s clothing, and more. I’ve been writing about console games for more than a decade, so I have a ton of industry contacts, longtime readers, and “real” friends on my Xbox Live friends list. For a lot of people I know, Xbox Live is the social network of choice. Being able to extend the social experience of Xbox Live beyond the Xbox 360 and PC to mobile platforms like iOS is tremendous. Yes, you can do all of these things on Windows Phone 7, but that platform hasn’t taken off (yet).

My Xbox Live is a strong first release and I’m sure Microsoft will add a lot to it in the future. Right now my biggest complaint is that it’s slow and cumbersome to switch between accounts. I use three Xbox Live accounts for various work purposes. I understand that is quite unusual, but what about families that share an iPad? Families with several Xbox 360 gamers would benefit from a quick and easy way to switch between accounts — you know, just like on an Xbox 360. Right now the process is sluggish.

Although most of the functionality is basic (but very pretty), I’m incredibly excited by the potential of My Xbox Live. Hopefully this is the start of a robust social experience based around Xbox 360 gaming. Sending messages and seeing what your friends are playing is a great start. Adding video and voice chat would be awesome features to have in the future. I love that Microsoft has taken the Xbox Live experience to iOS and can’t wait to see what the future holds for this app. I have a feeling that it’s going to rock.

When you have a chance, please let me know about your experience with My Xbox Live for iOS.