Your smartphone or tablet will soon be able to control and display games and movies from an Xbox 360.
(Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET)
Set to be released along with Windows 8 this Friday, Microsoft's new SmartGlass app is designed to bridge the gap between the Xbox and mobile devices.
The free app will naturally support Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets and PCs, as well as Windows Phone 8 devices. But it will also run on iOS and Android devices.
As described in a blog by Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing officer for Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Division, Xbox 360 owners will be able use their mobile devices to remotely control games, TV shows, movies and other types of entertainment. For example, you'll be able to play, pause, rewind or advance videos directly through your smartphone or tablet.
Your phone or tablet can also serve as a second screen to your Xbox. Two people could play the same game together — one in front of the Xbox and the other on a mobile device.
In some cases, the second screen displays additional information. Sports fans can watch a game on TV through the Xbox, and call up player stats and other details on a phone or tablet. Music buffs can listen to music via the Xbox, and find artist bios and related information on their mobile device.
You can also watch a TV show or movie on your phone or tablet, and then pick up where you left off on the Xbox, or vice versa. And with the addition of Internet Explorer to the Xbox, you'll also be able to surf the web through your mobile device.
iOS and Android users can already control their Xbox 360 consoles through the My Xbox Live app. Current Windows Phone owners can use the Xbox Companion app to tap into the Xbox from their phones. But from Mehdi's description, it sounds like SmartGlass is the next step up.
For now, SmartGlass is limited to specific games, movies and TV shows. But Microsoft said that the line-up will expand over the coming months.
"We've only begun to scratch the surface of what's possible," Mehdi said. "In the future, new games will be created, TV shows and movies will be re-imagined and sports will be broadcast from the ground up with Xbox SmartGlass in mind."