Can the Xbox become an all-inclusive home entertainment device?
Microsoft announced the multi-device SmartGlass feature, as well as web browsing for the Xbox at Monday¿s E3 event. (Microsoft / June 4, 2012) (Robyn Deck, Microsoft / June 6, 2012)
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That’s the premise behind “SmartGlass,” a feature debuting later this year that is designed to enhance the entertainment experience by simultaneously invading your Xbox, smartphone and tablet.
At Monday’s E3 event in Los Angeles, the “SmartGlass” hinted at some practical luxuries, such as picking up a show from a pause-point on your TV and taking it with you on your tablet.
However, the focus of the feature seems to be geared toward the notion of multi-device content. One example was being able to watch “Game of Thrones” on your Xbox, while holding your tablet, which is feeding you behind-the-scenes information, interactive maps and exclusive content designed for an “immersive” viewing experience.
Keeping step with Nintendo’s tablet-controlled Wii U console, the “SmartGlass” features were also demonstrated through the lens of gaming, with concept demos for “Halo 4” and “Madden 13” shown with handheld devices allowing more features and touch-sensitive controls to partner with the standard gaming controllers.
With this expanded line of features, at the epicenter still remains the Xbox 360 itself, a device launched as a gaming console now being rebranded in its final years as an all-in-one box. The concept seems simple and minimalistic: have all your entertainment emanating from one machine. However, just listing out the number of enhancements and add-ons that were announced coming to the Xbox Live service at E3 is enough to make a media consumer’s head spin.
Microsoft also acknowledged that nobody has “nailed” browsing the Internet on a TV yet. It has been attempted for years, but something about the experience has always felt slow and clunky.
By loading Internet Explorer onto Xbox 360s later this year, Microsoft is hoping to make enjoyable and functional web browsing a reality. By leveraging its newfound love for multi-device entertainment, Microsoft is inviting users to surf the web using a combination of Kinect voice commands and smartphone and tablet control.
In addition to bringing a browser to the Xbox, Microsoft also announced a slew of new content partners, edging the cable companies further into the realm of “high speed Internet provider” than ever before. Nickelodeon, Paramount, and ESPN feeds were just a few of the new viewing options available.
Microsoft also unveiled Xbox Music, an iTunes competitor that lives on your Xbox Live account and, naturally, will sync with a plethora of devices, as well as a partnership with Nike for a social-gaming inspired fitness game.