During the Microsoft Press Conference Microsoft announced Xbox SmartGlass, a new piece of tech that allows you to go deeper with your Xbox experience. Now when Microsoft made this announcement I had some reservation, still do, but I've come understand SmartGlass a little more.
Lets start out with what is SmartGlass? SmartGlass is an app that you can download to your phone or tablet turning said device into a controller, additional screen, mouse or show companion depending on what you're doing at the time. The app will be available on Android, iOS and Windows devices. This is good because it means you don't have to buy any new hardware, additionally the app is free across each device.
What does it do exactly? What SmartGlass does is allow you to use your phone, tablet or computer to further enhance your experience with the Xbox. If you recall from their press conference SmartGlass will allow you to move seamlessly between movies on your device and Xbox. When it comes to movies or shows, SmartGlass will allow you to get additional information including character bios, addition videos and information on the current movie/show.
When used with video games SmartGlass can become a mini-map, detailing information from it. It can also be used as a secondary peripheral for you game functioning as either a playbook (as seen during the press conference) or controller. It remains to be seen how much further you can push the SmartGlass technology when used with a game but it holds a lot of promise.
And for general functionality the SmartGlass can be used, in conjunction with your phone or tablet, to navigate through the Xbox menus and also works within several applications. What it also lets you do is use your device as a mouse to navigation the incoming Internet Explorer Browser, allowing you to pinch zoom pictures and us it as a keyboard.
The idea behind SmartGlass is sound - a way to really take using your Xbox to another level of interaction . The technology works fine for movies, shows, music and browsing the internet but when it comes to games it may be cumbersome. Using a tablet or phone on more hardcore games, where a classic controller is often standard, will take sometime to catch on. Additionally you'll lose the responsive and tactile feel of a classic controller. This also means that you're constantly going to have to transition between looking at the TV screen and looking at you table/phone to get whatever additional information it display - greatly distracting and pulling a player out of their immersion.
Microsoft definitely knows what their doing and how to make the Xbox the main attract in your home, especially since several streaming services and popular apps are available on the device. Hopefully they can figure out a way for it to be more accessible and streamline with hardcore games. The future holds promise for SmartGlass. On a side note, is it just me or does this seem like a direct challenge to the Wii U controller.