Microsoft has officially announced their newest product for the Xbox 360, Xbox Smart Glass, and it will turn your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into an extension of your favorite console games.
Imagine playing a game of Halo and using your iPhone to show you the mini-map, or your iPad to talk with team mates, and you have the right idea. And while you won’t be able to stream full games from your Xbox 360 to your iPhone or iPad, this still sounds pretty great.
Kotaku has a good description of Smart Glass (known as Live Companion in their article) from a report a couple days ago:
Xbox Live Companion would work like this: owners of iOS, Android or Windows phones (or tablets) download the Xbox Live Companion application to their devices. Then, developers of console games will have the option of coding in features that would allow those games to send content to the app while the game was running, transforming it into a personalised “companion” of the title being played.
An example we heard from this source was Halo 4: start playing the game on Xbox 360 and, if you’ve got XBLC on your phone or tablet, it will become a Halo 4 companion application. Turn the game off and switch to something else that the app supports and it suddenly becomes your companion for that game.
This sounds pretty smart, actually. If you’ve ever played a game like Skyrim with the aid of an iOS map app to help make sense of the extensive game world, you’ll know how useful combining a game and a companion app can be.
Nintendo’s newest console, the Wii U, is due out this year, and it’s actually a console with a tablet controller. Microsoft’s not going to release the new Xbox for at least another year, and probably two, so they’re bridging the gap and competing with Nintendo by making it possible to turn every iPhone or iPad out there to be part of the game.
Of course, how well this all works in reality remains to be seen, but this seems like a winner idea to me, if enough games are released or patched to support the functionality.