Marc Whitten, the head of Xbox Live, demonstrates the new
XBox feature XBox SmartGlass, using a wireless tablet
controller at the Microsoft XBox news briefing during the
E3 game expo in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Reuters.
Microsoft has took another step toward its goal of
turning the Xbox into the nexus of household entertainment,
unveiling software to let users view extra content, control
games and surf the Internet from their tablets and smartphones.
The software maker, whose market-leading Xbox already streams
Netflix and ESPN and other channels, has unveiled a
"SmartGlass" application on that links the console to mobile
devices powered by Windows or Apple's iOS and Google's
The US software corporation has been trying for years to make
a living-room entertainment hub of its Xbox, which has sold
67 million units since it launched in 2005. Now, the company
is trying to expand the Xbox's entertainment menu and hook it
up to "companion" mobile devices as a way to boost sales of
its seven-year old console.
The company also announced Internet browsing will be made
available on Xboxes, including through voice recognition in a
nod to the popular "Siri" function on the newest iPhones. And
it talked about plans to sell cloud-based music a la Apple's
iTunes or Amazon.com Inc.
Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter deemed "SmartGlass" a
nice feature - especially its ability to turn devices into TV
remotes - but added it wasn't clear how essential it will
But having Internet Explorer on Xboxes will help Microsoft
compete with a new generation of "smart" or Web-enabled TVs
made by Samsung and others that let viewers stream content
from online services such as YouTube.
"With an open browser, it's like you have a smart TV on an
Xbox, which could mean you don't go out and buy a connected
TV if you already have an Xbox at home," he said.
"SmartGlass" lets users remotely control TV displays from
touchscreen enabled mobile devices -- swiping, pinching and
tapping just like one would on an iPhone.
It also allows viewers to see "companion content," from TV to
games, on the smaller screen. For example, gamers playing
Electronic Arts' "Madden NFL" on an Xbox in the same room
could design plays on individual tablets without showing
Or someone watching "Game of Thrones" on the "HBO GO"
streaming service via Xbox could simultaneously browse
websites about the show's cast.
Microsoft is the second company at this year's E3 in Los
Angeles - the annual gathering of the industry's top
executives and analysts and fans - to show off services that
employ a second screen.
Nintendo's GamePad controller is used in conjunction with the
company's consoles and features a screen that can display
additional content and gameplay.
Microsoft also gave the audience a sneak peek at "Xbox
Music," which will work on Xboxes as well as on Windows Phone
and Windows 8 devices. And it drew cheers from the fanboys in
the audience with new versions of its "Halo" and "Gears of
War" shooter games.
For some though, the proliferation of devices may be too
"South Park" co-creator Trey Parker, invited onstage with
partner-in-crime Matt Stone, poked fun at the concept of
"How many times have you watched South Park, thinking I want
to play a game on my tablet, while connected to my oven
sitting in a fridge?" he quipped as Microsoft executives