At E3 2012, Microsoft announced SmartGlass for the Xbox 360. The technology provided a second-screen experience on Xbox 360 games and apps that allowed users to access certain information about said games and apps from a tablet or smartphone. It showed a lot of promise, but not a lot of games used it. Now Microsoft is hoping an upgraded version of the tech for the Xbox One will encourage more developers to utilize it.
In a dedicated Q&A from Microsoft this week, the Xbox team detailed all of the enhancements coming to SmartGlass for the Xbox One. The team notes that the biggest change is that SmartGlass for Xbox One is much faster than its predecessor. This is achieved through your tablet or smartphone being able to directly talk to the Xbox One instead of having to go through a datacenter first.
The Xbox team notes that SmartGlass can be used for matchmaking outside of the game you’re currently playing. Let’s say that you’re playing Dead Rising 3, but want to look for games in Call of Duty: Ghosts. You can start searching for games in the latter while you continue to play the former.
For local multiplayer games, the Xbox One can support up to 16 mobile devices at once. It may seem a little unnecessary, but the Xbox team already has a good example in place. You could play a Poker game on the Xbox One with each player using their own tablet to select cards with the TV display showing the final results to everybody.
SmartGlass can also provide assistance to players through a new feature called Game Help. At any time during gameplay, you can tap a Help button in SmartGlass that will deliver contextually aware tips to the player. Microsoft doesn’t have any examples of how this might work, but I can see it being used to help a player along in a particularly difficult portion of a game.
Finally, SmartGlass can kind of do what Sony’s doing with the PS4 and Remote Play. While you can’t outright play Xbox One games on your tablet, you can access most Xbox Live features on the go. Here’s all the stuff you can look forward to:
SmartGlass is your Xbox One dashboard when you’re away from your console and keeps you in touch with your Xbox One games and community. In addition to staying connected to your friends, sending and receiving messages, and checking all your Achievements, SmartGlass will show your friends’ activity and let you look at the games they’re playing. From there, you can pin those games in SmartGlass and those pins will appear on your Xbox One the next time you’re connected to Xbox Live. We’re making it easier to find new games by adding the ability to search the entire Xbox Games Store within SmartGlass. And we’re adding a promoted games section that delivers titles specific to your tastes based on your gaming history.
The Wii U may have spearheaded the second-screen craze in the current generation of consoles, but Microsoft and Sony are doing some really cool stuff with their own interpretations of the technology. SmartGlass already showed incredible promise on the Xbox 360, and it looks like Microsoft has really hit its stride with the technology on the Xbox One.
SmartGlass for Xbox One will be available to download on Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, iOS and Android devices this holiday season. If it’s anything like last year, SmartGlass will probably hit Windows 8 first and force iOS and Android users to wait a bit for their respective apps.
[Image: Xbox Wire]