Microsoft recently confirmed that it would be updating many of the built-in apps in Windows 8 between the release to manufacturing (RTM) of the OS and its general availability on October 26. Here’s a peek at the changes the firm just made to its Xbox SmartGlass app.
I wrote about this app updating confirmation in Windows 8: Updates Coming to Built-In Apps after having been speaking about (on podcasts) and writing (here and in Secrets) for months about Microsoft’s plans to do just this.
If there’s an app less well-understood than Xbox SmartGlass, I’m not aware of it. This app is not complicated: It’s just the next version of the Xbox Companion app, and provides a way to link your device—Windows Phone, Windows 8 or RT tablet—with Xbox media experiences (movies, TV shows, and games) on the Xbox 360 console. Here’s what’s new in the Xbox SmartGlass app.
In the RTM version of the Xbox SmartGlass app (build 1.0.927), there were Bing Search and Recent content sections, plus a big blog of mixed content. In the latest version of this app (build 1.1.134), Bing Search and Recent are still present, and a new Now Playing content section has been added. But that blob of content has been divided up into Music, Videos, and Games sections to make it more obvious.
Second screen experiences for select movies and TV shows
While I’ve only found one example of this so far—The Avengers movie—the new SmartGlass app does support second screen movie and TV show experiences for the first time. This allows you to learn more about the characters you see on-screen, in real time, while offering on-device navigation controls.
More second screen experiences
Other second screen additions are coming, including:
Sports. While watching sports programming through the NBA Game Time, ESPN and UFC apps on Xbox 360, you can use the SmartGlass app on Windows 8 to follow real-time stats, player bios, news and highlights.
Xbox Music. While enjoying Xbox Music on the Xbox 360, you can discover related artists and songs, cue up additional music, read artist bios and more on the SmartGlass app for Windows 8.
Internet Explorer for Xbox. You control IE for Xbox using the SmartGlass app for Windows 8, with pan, pinch, and zoom support, easier text entry, and the ability to continue a browsing session on your Windows 8 device.
Games – A coming generation of SmartGlass-enabled Xbox 360 games like “Forza: Horizon,” “Dance Central 3,” and “HomeRun Stars” will let you use the SmartGlass app for Windows 8 as a second screen in unique new ways. For example, “Halo 4” will provide detailed in-game stats to the Windows 8 app and help you check up on how well your friends are doing in the game.
Is there more?
If you see any other new features in the new Xbox SmartGlass app, please let me know and I’ll update this article.