Microsoft SmartGlass Syncs Home, Mobile Devices

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has unveiled new software capable of syncing its Xbox 360 video game console with popular portable devices, like the Apple iPhone or iPad, as well as with Android- and Windows-based handhelds.

"Your devices aren't so smart because they aren't working together," said Marc Whitten of Xbox Live online entertainment service, at the press event that began the E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) video game gathering in Los Angeles on June 5, 2012.

Microsoft's idea is to tie together all of these popular devices, even those produced by rivals like Apple and Google. (Source:

Console-to-Device: Smooth Switch

Called Xbox SmartGlass, the new software lets individuals switch between watching content on a console to watching it on a handheld device (and vice-versa), without any break in the action.

For example, someone watching the DVD "Mr. Popper's Penguins" could start viewing the movie on their iPad, hit a button to watch the second chapter on their iPhone, then hit a different button to watch the third chapter on their home television screen -- all without missing a beat.

Once the movie is over, the same software automatically displays supplementary information about the actors, location, wardrobe, and more. SmartGlass also allows users to navigate the web with the Internet Explorer browser on their big screen TV, while a smartphone touchscreen display acts as the mouse control.

Bad Timing for Nintendo

With insiders suggesting Microsoft will release the SmartGlass application worldwide before the end of 2012, some observers are saying the Microsoft announcement could not have come at a worse time for major rival Nintendo.

That company has been preparing for the next generation of console gaming by building a gamepad with a touchscreen interface.

Microsoft's new software, which allows gamers to control their consoles with any touchscreen device they have handy, could dramatically reduce the allure (and value) of Nintendo's upcoming Wii U console.

Some experts also argue that SmartGlass is yet another sign that Microsoft is on a mission to replace cable service boxes in homes, or at least hedge alliances in which cable companies subsidize hardware purchases. (Source:

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