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Microsoft is pushing ahead with the barrage of announcements it has planned for the week. Writing on The Official Microsoft Blog, Yasuf Mehdi talked about the new entertainment experience from Xbox, with a new update rolling out today for the Xbox 360 that finally adds a web browser to the console, a brand new music service, and support for multi-screen entertainment experiences with SmartGlass.
The latter won’t be activated until Windows 8 goes live on Friday, at which point it will essentially enable people to use their phones, tablets and PCs as “second screens” for the Xbox 360 through a downloadable app.
SmartGlass will work wirelessly to connect your Xbox 360 to your portable device, and provide side content to a game or a TV show. During its E3 presentation back in June, Microsoft showed how you could use a tablet draw plays on Madden while the actual gameplay happens on the TV screen, as well as an interactive map pinpointing where the action was taking place during an episode of Game of Thrones.
It can also be used to navigate videos and movies being viewed on the TV screen, stream videos from Xbox Live to a tablet or smartphone, or as a virtual keyboard while surfing the web on the TV screen.
SmartGlass is Microsoft’s attempt to tie all your devices to the Xbox entertainment experience. It’ll be available for Windows 8 PCs, iOS and Android, and Microsoft intends for all versions of the app to have feature parity.
In many ways SmartGlass could be seen as an answer to the Wii U's upcoming tablet-equipped GamePad, only it offsets the costs by using touchscreen devices that players might already own. With an Xbox 360 install base of 67 million, deals in place with content providers, and cross platform support for mobile devices, SmartGlass seems well positioned to bring interactive content for your media in ways its rivals haven’t been able to.
Ultimately its success will largely depend on how well developers make use of a secondary screen to enhance the gaming experience, or content providers to add commentary and other special features, all while not degrading things for those without a tablet — or those who don’t care to use one.
Microsoft says The following games, apps and services will support SmartGlass initially:
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