Microsoft’s SmartGlass Overview: Consumer Cloud Done Right?

Even before E3 kicked off, rumors regarding the a new technology from Microsoft that would connect all your devices were abundant.  It was identified as SmartGlass, which some believed was the same as the Xbox Companion Live, later confirmed via a spokesperson stating that “Xbox Companion was the predecessor to Xbox SmartGlass.”
During their E3 presentation Microsoft unveiled what the SmartGlass is really all about, but before you start thinking that it’s Microsoft’s version of Nintendo’s Wii U GamePad, let’s check out what SmartGlass truly is.


SmartGlass is not a device.  It’s not a controller, not a tablet and definitely not a gaming console.  What it is, actually, is an application that connects your Xbox, tablet, smartphone and even your SmartTV.  It allows users to stream and share content across connected devices.

It provides you with a second screen that can function in a variety of ways depending on the game you’re playing.  During the demo, it showed a user watching an episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones.  As the show continues, the app automatically showed an interactive map detailing where events took place.  Users can also search for the cast or get their family trees to better understand what you’re watching, as the show sometimes gets a bit confusing with all the sex thrown in.

Wii U GamePad Clone?

In some ways, yes, it functions like the Wii U GamePad as it can turn your smartphone or tablet into a TV remote.  You can also chat with other players, check game stats, visit online stores, and even browse the web while you’re playing as Microsoft is bringing Internet Explorer to the Xbox this Fall.  But unlike the Wii U GamePad, you don’t need a new console to use SmartGlass, as Microsoft goes for extreme consumer appeal by utilizing the things that you already have – no need to shell out more cash.  So this is really a huge benefit compared to the Wii U GamePad.

“We’re all used to using these touchscreen devices because we take them with us everywhere we go,” says Xbox Live’s Marc Whitten. “It already allows everybody to be comfortable with the device that they use on a daily basis, and they use that to control experiences in a really natural way. I think that’s important.”

SmartGlass for everyone

The SmartGlass app will be available for Windows 8 PCs and tablets as well as Windows Phone smartphones, and on other devices such as Android and iOS.  Users would only need to sync their device with their Xbox 360 console so they can start experiencing a whole new world of entertainment on their second screen.

It’s all in the cloud

So how does SmartGlass work?  The magic happens in the cloud.  Everything is stored in the cloud so once everything is synced, all the data you need will be available on each synced device.  As long as you have an internet connection, you’re good to go.

Autumn rollout

Since Windows 8 and Windows 8 tablets will start rolling out, hopefully, by this fall, we can all expect that SmartGlass will be available during the same time.  So we still have quite a bit of a wait ahead of us.  I’m just hoping that everything will be as good, or even better than what was showcased at the E3 event.