Redmond, Wash. – Microsoft is rolling out Xbox SmartGlass, a free downloadable app that enables smartphones and tablets based on the iOS, Windows 8, Windows RT and Android operating systems to control Xbox-console content and display that content on mobile devices and Xbox-connected TVs at home.
SmartGlass also works on Windows 8 PCs, said Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing officer for Microsoft's interactive entertainment division.
“We are bringing Xbox Entertainment [services] off the console to your phone, tablet and PC to deliver great games, music, TV and movie experiences,” Mehdi said.
SmartGlass technology will compete with Apple’s AirPlay technology, which is limited to Apple’s iOS devices, works only with Apple’s mobile devices, and sends music stored in a PC’s iTunes application to AirPlay-enabled music systems and iTunes video to an Apple TV-connected TV screen. AirPlay also streams music from Apple’s mobile devices to AirPlay music systems.
SmartGlass will become available first for Windows 8 PCs and tablets and Windows RT tablets on Friday, when Windows 8 OS products become available to consumers. SmartGlass will also work Windows Phone 8 smartphones when they become available the following week, and Microsoft plans SmartGlass apps at some time in the future for iOS and Android devices.
SmartGlass ties in with an Xbox 360 update launched today to offer a new music service, an expanded selection of streaming movie and TV shows, Internet Explorer, and the ability to use Kinect and Bing voice search to find entertainment content.
Among other things, SmartGlass will turn a smartphone and tablet into a remote that controls such Xbox functions as pause, rewind and advance. With Xbox Video streaming, users will be able to start a TV show, movie or sporting event on a tablet and finish watching it on an Xbox-connected TV. While watching the movie or sporting event on a TV, users will be able to view film-related information on their tablet or smartphone, follow real-time stats, view player bios, and view news and past highlights. The sporting events with these features are due in the coming months from NBA Game Time, ESPN and UFC.
Consumers will also be able to control Xbox Music playback using a smartphone or tablet and view related artists and songs, artist bios and the like on the mobile device.
With Xbox’s Internet Explorer, consumers will be able to use their smartphone or tablet to pan, pinch and zoom to browse the Web on a TV, enter text into the browser from the keyboard of a phone or tablet, and move the browser back to the mobile device to take on the go.
Consumers will also be able to use the tablet or smartphone screen during game playback to control games instead of using the Xbox’s onscreen menu, interact with games, and view game stats.