At this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) Microsoft launched SmartGlass, an application for Windows 8, Windows Phone, and other portable devices that connects phones, PCs and tablets with your Xbox 360 console to make your entertainment smarter.
The Smart Glass app offers the power for your own personal media command center – an ideal premium blend expanding control and viewing options across mobile (phone) & tablet (Android & iOS) platforms, the Xbox 360 game console, Web (working with Windows 8), and televisions. Microsoft’s plan for media domination involves every essential element. No specific details on the application cost.
The process lets users put the app on your media device(s), then the app syncs up with any SmartGlass-enabled content, use your available array of controls (touch is good here and the mobile/tablet devices have that covered), and enjoy an expanded entertainment experience where users access additional interactive material (think Blu-ray special features, recommendations, etc.) …in real time, which means the essential online Web requirement.
The Smart Glass app future includes related viewing choices presented to you automatically, touch controls on your smartphone will watching your Web “surfing” on a big screen TV, shoot ‘em up with your friends while checking their statistics, and drawing a Madden NFL football play on your tablet then completing it within the game…or what about calling audible plays just like Joe Montana did at the Microsoft E3 presentation?
Voice recognition capabilities will let users speak their choices into reality using the Web search engine Bing and the wireless motion controller Kinect (Xbox 360). The voice search capability also expands to 12 additional countries: Australia, Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland.
The content keeps coming, (a la “if you build it, they will come”…repeatedly for new stuff) but the key expansion area in many households, especially for my brother-in-law, will be sports. NBA Game Time with NBA.com League Pass, NHL GameCenter LIVE (worldwide except Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden), and ESPN. Hopefully Xbox will cover the field with NFL options like NFL Sunday Ticket (offered last year on PlayStation 3).
Over 35 new content partners will also launch on Xbox within the next 12 months including The Weather Channel, Indie Flix, Nickelodeon, Paramount Movies, Univision, and GameSpot TV (BBC would also be a good future addition).
This new app further eliminates Microsoft’s need for a handheld game console while possibly stealing some thunder from Nintendo’s Wii U console and “Apple TV”. The game collaboration potential here is great. For example the upcoming Xbox Live Arcade game Home Run Stars, can let players switch between batter and pitcher using the smartphone/tablet and the Xbox controller/TV.
Will this application enhance the entertainment experience in a positive way (e.g. reduce downtime, etc.) or just make the experience more complicated or frustrating (e.g. streaming/bandwidth limitations)? Will Microsoft make it flexible enough for users and avoid frustrations and service stoppage? Will customers shell out more money in uncertain economic times?
Biggest skill will be media management and simplicity amid waves of various file formats, devices, and compatibilities. Obviously, producing companies will want the complete experience with attractive, money saving options for their customers like Microsoft’s recent Xbox 360 subscription service announcement, which includes a 4GB Xbox console and a Kinect sensor for $99 and a monthly subscription of $15 that will run for two-years (Xbox Live Gold service and a two-year warranty).
Look for more details here in the coming months as gaming console producing companies seek to merge with other media instead of falling into “obsoleteness”.
Xbox SmartGlass is available with select games and Xbox LIVE content and requires Internet connectivity and compatible devices. Xbox LIVE Gold membership (sold separately) is also required for some Xbox SmartGlass-enabled content and features. Available Xbox SmartGlass features may vary by device. See http://xbox.com/live . Internet Explorer on Xbox requires Xbox LIVE Gold membership (sold separately). Available content and features vary across devices. Games and media content sold separately.