updated 04:04 pm EDT, Mon June 4, 2012
Internet Explorer added to Xbox 360 with SmartGlass controls
Microsoft today confirmed the existence of SmartGlass at its E3 keynote. Previously rumored as hardware shown behind closed doors, in practice SmartGlass is an app for Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS, and Android devices that lets them connect to the Xbox 360. Developers and content providers will have options to display more information or add more control for their apps, games, and TV shows.
Game-related examples given throughout Microsoft's presentation include using a tablet to make plays in Madden, and an extra notifications system for Halo 4, saving players from having to pause the game to change options or read updates. For TV shows, a person might for instance use a tablet as an interactive map, pointing out the location of a scene in Game of Thrones during the episode's broadcast. A direct comparison could be made to the Wii U, which also follows the concept of a second screen, but which requires dedicated hardware.
TV and movie viewers will have the option of watching media on a tablet or phone, stopping, and then continuing where they left off on an Xbox at a later time. It was not mentioned which specific services would work in such a way, but considering the need to carry the media on a mobile device, it is likely to be the Zune store rather than a streaming service.
Also newly announced is Internet Explorer for Xbox 360, bringing web browsing to the console for the first time. Going further than Bing content search, Internet Explorer should allow full web access, with navigation through Kinect voice control and SmartGlass. Tablets and smartphones can manipulate an onscreen cursor, pinch to zoom, and select page elements.
SmartGlass is scheduled to launch later this year, with no mention as to if there is a cost for the app on mobile devices.