The lights are on
Find out more of how you'll be using your phone or tablet to interact with your Xbox 360 this fall.
We met with Microsoft to see a little more on what the Xbox SmartGlass program will be capable of and came away hopeful that it will live up to expectations. It will be a free download on whatever app store you prefer (iOS, Android, Windows), and at its base level will serve as a remote in which you can navigate the 360's menus or enter text into a virtual keyboard. Unfortunately, Microsoft cannot guarantee that the app will be available on all platforms simultaneously, but it seems to realize the importance of including as many phone and tablet types as quickly as possible.
Up to four devices can connect to a single 360 at any given time (any mix of tablets or phones). As we saw at the Microsoft press conference, HBO's Game of Thrones will fully support SmartGlass. As of now, it features a realtime interactive map showing the location of whatever scene you're watching at that time. You can also access guides to all of the houses and lineages and an episode timeline.
Next, we saw the potential of SmartGlass with movie viewing. Microsoft brought up School of Rock from freshly announced partner Paramount Pictures. The remote functionality allows viewers to easily scrub through the film to access any point of it instantly. You can also tap the "Who's on screen?" icon and get a realtime display of all the actors currently in the scene you're watching. When you tap on an actor's name it brings up a bio, filmography, quotes, and scenes in the current movie. The latter option means you can easily get to your favorite part of the movie without having to deal with predetermined chapter breaks. Say you're watching Animal House (not currently confirmed by Microsoft) and want to see the part where Jim Belushi uses mashed potatoes to imitate a zit, you can easily browse all the scenes he appears in and pinpoint that cafeteria scene.
Movies and shows are great and all, but how do games figure in? Mobile-friendly Ascend: New Gods features an "Oracle" that brings up a minimap of the current dungeon you're in the instant you enter it. You can also take a peek at the stats of a new boss or player that enters your world to inform your decision to fight or flee. A holiday baseball title called Homerun Stars features both Smartglass and Kinect functionality, allowing a SmartGlass player to pitch to a Kinect batter or vice versa. Microsoft also showed off an as-yet-unnamed karaoke title that supports up to 8,000 tracks. When one of your friends is singing at a party, others can browse the available tracks and queue up a playlist so there's no waiting around between songs. This intriguing feature has also been confirmed for Harmonix's just-announced Dance Central 3. Another neat tidbit about the karaoke game? You can actually alter the key of the song in SmartGlass to better match your vocal range.
That's pretty much all Microsoft would talk about in regards to SmartGlass for now, but we'll be waiting in anticipation throughout the rest of the summer for new functionality ideas and confirmed release dates.