Xbox Smartglass. It’s not DLNA or Airplay

If you haven’t played with Microsoft’s new Xbox Smartglass app yet then I suggest you do. It is so cool. Instead of being a mirroring or second display it has controls, extra content, and endless possibilities.

General Media With Smartglass

Say you want to play some music with Smartglass. Simply make sure your Xbox is on and you are signed into the same account you use with your phone and launch the Smartglass app. In a few seconds you will connect and have control of your Xbox. If you are at the dashboard of your Xbox you will have a simple touch interface for a controller with clearly marked hotspots for the buttons. Swipe around a bit and you can dive into some of your Xbox apps or you can leave the remote screen and dive into more function of the Smartglass app by tapping the bottom right for the menu.

Out of the menu you will see a nice Modern UI app with a handful of features including; search, discovery, and current/recent. Swipe to the search and tap in a favorite band name, tap a result, and you are presented with some information and a button to ‘Play on Xbox’. After you start to hear your sweet jams coming out of your Xbox and wow your friends you can then see more information about the artist, song, or album and even see like artists, save to a playlist, or play the top songs. Along with all of that we get convenient buttons across the bottom of our screen for skip forward/backward, pause, and play. Video is basically the same but I don’t have anything in my collection and don’t really like to rent or buy anything from there so I haven’t actually played anything yet.

Netflix and Other Apps From Smartglass

Netflix is one of my primary ways to watch video. Between Netflix and Windows Media Center, I get pretty much all of the shows and movies that I care to watch. Well there is also the occasional Redbox or torrent but I get both of those for free, one thanks to Bing rewards. So you can use Smartglass to navigate your dashboard and get to Netflix or you can use your Kinect voice commands which have been developing nicely. So after shouting things like ‘XBOX’ ‘APPS’ ‘NETFLIX’ and ‘PLAY NOW’ I was up and running with Netflix on my Xbox. All the while I can see from my Smartglass app that Netflix is running on my Xbox and I can even see what show is playing and more information about the show, actors, and similar shows. Which helped me to discover that James Roday was in a few things other than Psych as well. With one tap I can skip to any point in the show, or I can fast forward, rewind, pause, play and with surprising response time.

Internet Explorer on Xbox with Smartglass You Ask?

I was part of the public beta program this time around, so I have had IE on my Xbox for a while and I have used it all of zero times. Well other than testing it out a bit. No wait, I lied. I used it once because a friend wanted to show a video that was not on Youtube. Any how, it is not great to navigate as you would expect from a console browser but it is certainly usable. However, with having a touchpad in your hand the game is changed. Suddenly with Smartglass a browser works pretty similar to a desktop browser. Is it perfect? No. Multi-touch next please. I tried to 2 finger scroll and it doesn’t work. They did however put a scroll bar on the right side for you so you can do that. And you can pinch to zoom in and out. I still don’t think that it is very likely that I will use IE on my Xbox on a daily basis but, it is a much better experience with Smartglass.

Oh and as far as games go on the Xbox with Smartglass, well I haven’t played any yet but that is where I am most excited. Just imagine where gaming can go now that we have multiple interfaces. What can developers do with a tv, controller, kinect, and tablet or smartphone? The answer is, A LOT. So game devs please give us your best in the next couple of years and really kick this Smartglass off with a bang because Microsoft has done a great job with it so far. One thing I would like to see out of Smartglass is a landscape.

Disc Drivin’ Quick Sand – Don’t Anger The DD Gods

Disc Drivin’ Phantom Floor

You win some, you lose some. And sometimes Disc Drivin decides to give your opponents a leg up at your expense. This isn’t the first time I have seen this happen and I am sure it won’t be the last. Not sure yet the rhyme or reason of this ‘bug’ but it only seems to happen if you are landing and have used your speed boost.

Setting Up For Failure

Little does he know, that this swipe will not get him the edge on the competition. Instead it will drop him through the floor.

Setting Up For Failure

Boost And Jump – Looking Good

The turn is still looking good here for mister 1st place, however the DD gods are not happy with him.

Zoom Zoom Jump Shortcut

Coming In For The Landing

Still looks like a perfectly fine turn but there is a certain evil lurking.

Coming in For a Landing on Zoom Zoom

Wait What? Quicksand‽

Where’d he go?

Quicksand on Disc Drivin'

Remember to never anger the DD gods or you might just fall through the floor.

Disc Drivin’s Dreaded Bumper Beware Winning Jump

In case you didn’t know, Disc Drivin’ is the best iOS game around. It is the main reason one might own an iDevice actually. This will likely be one of a series of Disc Drivin related posts as this blog is about things I am interested in. DD as it is commonly referred to at work, is an integral part of our team. It gives us a nice couple of minute break, some competition, and some common ground on which we can all relate.

Bumper Beware – A Deadly Course

Bumper Beware is by far one of my most favorite courses in DD. The fairly simple jump that takes a bit of planning can make for a fun comeback or just a way to lap people and laugh. In case you do not know what I am referring to there will be some screenshots below.

Step 1 – Placement

Like most shortcuts in Disc Drivin’ placement before the jump is key here. Also: Don’t Try this without prior power up.
Bumper Beware Jump Step 1 - Placement

Setp 2 – Timing of The Jump

Along with this step it is worth noting that your speed is important and for this jump you should be able to go close to full speed.
Step 2 Timing of The Jump


This is less of a step and more of an outcome of careful preparation and flawless execution. Well Done!

Xbox Live Update Public Beta Program

Looking to get the latest Xbox updates before everyone else?

Well you can sign up for the Xbox LIVE update public beta program right here. I just signed up but haven’t gotten the update yet. If anyone else has signed up for it I would like to hear about your results below.

I saw the link on a Facebook feed and went through the form to sign up. When I put in my gamertag I used lowercase, not thinking about how my gamertag is all upper, so I am not sure if that has an effect on why I haven’t gottne the Xbox update or not.

Internet Explorer on your Xbox 360

The two biggest things that I understand from the update are the addition of IE on the Xbox. So now you can browse whatever, whenever you want on your Xbox. Along with IE on the Xbox you will also get the ability to customize your home screen or dashboard. Which personally is one thing I have wanted to do for a long time. I don’t know any details about the release of the update but I am excited to hopefully get the Beta update soon. I will keep you all posted here.

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Crossplatform Gaming Is The Future Of Gaming

Gaming has come a long way since I was a kid with a Super Nintendo. In those days you mostly just played 2 player games with your friend or sibling sitting no more than 3 feet away from you. Then the Nintendo 64 brings in a couple more controller ports to add to the fun. But when internet connectivity came to gamin systems everything changed. When you buy a gaming platform what you see is not the only thing you get. We now have massive online multi-player games connecting us to anyone in the world. Also your system is no longer limited by cartridges and memory cards. One thing we have yet to really get into much at this point is cross platform gaming. Sure there are some games that you can play turn based on iOS and Android but that just isn’t enough.

Windows 8, Xbox Console, and Windows Phone All on Xbox Live

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