Second screen experience makes an impressive debut, but is crying out for more game compatibility
Xbox SmartGlass Review
by Michael Sawh on November 5, 2012
How we would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at Nintendo HQ when Microsoft uttered the words ‘SmartGlass’ and ‘second screen experience’ in the same sentence stealing one of the key selling factors of the Wii U.
While it won’t let you continue playing Halo 4 on your smartphone or tablet while someone is grabbing the remote for the Homeland finale, you can use your secondary device as a slick, intuitive remote, view and queue Xbox Music, TV and film content and interact with games.
As Windows 8 landed on PCs, tablets, ultrabooks and laptops, the SmartGlass app surprisingly landed on Google Play before the App Store. Setting up simply requires signing in with your current Xbox account and within seconds information from your dashboard is dragged into the app with five home screens to swipe through.
First up is Bing Search, then there is the Home screen to view what is currently running on your Xbox. A Social screen displays your avatar and let’s you view fellow Xbox LIVE friends, messages and settings. Next up is the Recent screen to view games and content last viewed and it’s here where you can view achievements and refresh to see them in real-time. Last up is Discover which is essentially a recommendations area which is based on search and purchase history.
A menu tab is always display in the bottom right hand corner where you can return back to the Home screen, check privacy settings, refresh content and access the remote. If Kinect control is not your bag, you can now use your smartphone to navigate around the Xbox 360 dashboard using a series of swipes and B, X, Y buttons which are now represented as blotches on your smartphone screen. On initial play it can feel fidgety, but it responds well and is particularly impressive when used with the Internet Explorer 10 browser and works much like a standard PC mouse.
Gaming is where the most exciting potential lies but it’s currently only reserved for a handful of games which means you can create playlists to cut shapes to on Dance Central and view maps on Forza Horizon, however with our time with the latter, we were disappointed to find out that the maps integration was only available for Windows 8 devices.
This is only really the beginning of what SmartGlass is capable of and while we were impressed by the slickness and seamless integration of Xbox Music and video content, we struggled to see the fun of looking at in-game maps while trying to hold a controller at the same time. If you’ve got an Android smartphone and own a Xbox 360, it’s a no brainer really. The technology is only going to get better and more intuitive and the remote alone makes it worth the download.
Get this app: Download Xbox SmartGlass Android app now