With the announcement of Microsoft's Xbox One next generation console, there has been some questions about a similarly upgraded version of the SmartGlass app that turns any smart device or laptop into an Xbox companion. Wonder no more as Xbox Live General Manager Ron Pessner himself divulges what users can expect in the new and improved Xbox One SmartGlass.
The SmartGlass is a companion app for the Xbox gaming console that made its debut on the Xbox 360. It's purpose is to extend the Xbox entertainment experience by providing a convenient way to display information and control the console and the TV. It can, for example, help browse the web on the Xbox, control the TV volume, or select media to play. The Xbox One SmartGlass controller makes this easier by improving how the app connects to the console. Instead of doing a roundabout process of first contacting a remote datacenter, SmartGlass will directly connect to the Xbox One via the local network.
The Xbox One SmartGlass takes the usual features even further, like allowing players to use their smart device as a controller. While SmartGlass leverages the lessons Microsoft learned on touch interfaces to improve the experience, not all games will be a good fit for this controller method. SmartGlass also turns your device into a your Xbox One social network hub even when you're away from the console. View your achievements, connect with friends, and find games all from the comfort of your tablet or smartphone. What's more, SmartGlass can be used for matchmaking on the Xbox One even while in the middle of playing a game so that you don't have to interrupt your gaming on the screen.
But there are also some new, very interesting features added to this new version of SmartGlass. For one, compatible games can make use of SmartGlass as an additional, but completely optional, secondary interface. For example, in Dead Rising 3, your SmartGlass phone can turn into an in-game phone that can be used to interact with characters. SmartGlass now also features Game Help which can give players contextual tips and assistance when needed. Of course, these features have to be built into the game, and so Microsoft is in talks with various game developers to support these new features.
The Xbox One SmartGlass app will be available for free this holiday on Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, iOS, and Android. However, the Xbox One app is a completely new version, so users will have still download it even if they already have the Xbox 360 SmartGlass app installed.