Microsoft had numerous announcements ready for their E3 keynote today, all of them surrounding the Xbox platform and how the company is leveraging their position in the living room to become your hub for all things entertainment.
Xbox SmartGlass is a new application for Windows 8, Windows Phone, and devices running iOS and Android OS, meant to provide a second screen where you can interact with the content your are watching on your TV. Smartglass works wirelessly to connect your Xbox to your portable device, for example to provide side content to a show -- Microsoft demoed Game of Thrones, showing an interactive map of the GoT world, pinpointing where the action was taking place on a given scene -- also to browse the web, where your tablet becomes a virtual keyboard and you are able to surf the web on the big screen using Internet Explorer.
On the gaming side, Microsoft showed how you could draw plays on Madden or get stats, and arrange multiplayer sessions on Halo 4 (early demo version) from your handheld. All in all, SmartGlass appears to have the hardware component covered since it supports all major mobile platforms, effectively turning your smartphone or tablet into a remote control for your console. On the software side, possibilities are quite varied and limitless, so it will be up to developers to come up with smart, usable solutions that add up to the experience.
As mentioned above, Internet Explorer for Xbox is another of today's announcements, along with a brief preview of the Xbox Music streaming service, which touts support for Windows 8 and Windows Phones.
On the content side, Xbox is getting a expanded list of offerings which includes partnerships with Nickelodeon, Paramount, Univision, Machinima, GameSpot TV, among many others. Sports fans will be glad to hear full ESPN programming will be transmitted 24/7 including ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3 and ESPN U. This along with deals for NBA Game Time and NHL GameCenter Live. Note, there's an obvious geographic component attached to the announcement, so you just won't get all this content anywhere in the world. However, it's yet another step in the direction of getting live television through the Internet and not necessarily tied to a cable provider.
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