Microsoft turns tablets and smartphones into control systems for music, movies and other content on Xbox 360 with the release this week of SmartGlass. The companion app links phones and tablets with the TV screen and Xbox 360 entertainment system.
The app goes from connecting 67 million consoles to hundreds of millions of devices worldwide.
The free SmartGlass app supports Windows 8, Windows RT tablets, PCs and Windows Phone 8 devices with a tap of a finger or voice command, but it will also become available for devices running iOS and Android next year. For example, tap "Play to Xbox 360" and SmartGlass sends the movie or music selection to the television. Once on the TV, SmartGlass turns the tablet into a remote control and recommends other similar systems, like the Internet radio Pandora.
The second-screen tablet feature will provide more information on music or movies playing on the television. It allows users to learn more about artists and characters seen on the screen in real-time while watching and navigating the content. Users can pause viewing videos on the tablet and resume watching them on the TV.
The ability for Microsoft to connect devices will give advertisers more information about viewing habits and how consumers use content. Microsoft made no mention of options for ad targeting for brands and advertisers, but Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft CMO for the Interactive Entertainment Division, hints at options for an interconnected system.
The rollout of SmartGlass also means a variety of partners joining the fray, such as Ascend, Forza Hoizon, Halo Waypoint, Kinect Sesame Street TV, ESPN, NBA Game Time, UFC, HBO GO, NBC News, and more. Xbox entertainment services will reach 222 countries, up from 35 countries. The system now supports 62 TV and entertainment partners globally.