As of late, Microsoft has been working hard to better unify its ecosystem. The company is in a unique position as it owns a living room entertainment device, a desktop operating system, and a mobile phone OS. With E3 taking place today, the spotlight was placed on the entertainment device, and Microsoft took that opportunity to unveil a product that would better integrate the company’s other two screens with their entertainment device. Dubbed SmartGlass, the app transcends screens to allow users to utilize their tablets and phones to indulge in and interact with content on their TVs.
The first thing that the company demonstrated was the ability to watch a movie or show on a TV using your Xbox, stop the movie, and continue watching it — from where you left off — on your tablet, and vice versa. As Microsoft intends to compete with Apple in the living room, it was only a matter of time until they’d implement this AirPlay-esque feature.
This isn’t all there is to SmartGlass. You can also utilize it to view relevant bonus content on your “secondary screens” while watching something on your Xbox; this was demonstrated on stage with Game of Thrones. The same applies to bonus content with games; they showed a user playing Halo 4 being able to view information and schematics on a ship on their tablet. Users will also be able to actually interact with some games using their tablets as well: They showed off the ability to make a play in a football game on your tablet then execute/play it on the Xbox, scoring a touchdown.
And finally, they showed off how SmartGlass can help with using the Internet on your TV. As using a keyboard and mouse in the living room is something that nobody does, they demonstrated that you can easily browse the web using your smartphone and a few robotic Kinect commands. With SmartGlass, you could use your phone as a touch trackpad to control a cursor on screen, panning, scrolling, tapping to click, and even using gestures such as pinch to zoom. While I’m sure people will continue to avoid browsing the web on their consoles as much as possible, this at least helps to smoothen the experience.
SmartGlass will also be available on Android and iOS on top of Windows 8 and Windows Phone.
Here’s a video that showcases SmartGlass, Xbox Music, and Kinect voice commands: