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.