Weekend App Review: Xbox Smartglass

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If you own an Xbox 360, you may have used the old Xbox app which allowed you to update your profile, send messages and view Xbox videos. You may have also noticed your dashboard has recently been updated to include apps like Internet Explorer and a customisable Pin board which allows you to keep your favourite apps a few clicks away.

To coincide with the update, Microsoft have released an updated app renamed Xbox Smartglass. This update allows you to control the movement around the dashboard, type with the keyboard on your mobile or tablet and still allows you to send messages, update your profile and avatar.

The first screen will show your most recent application used and allow you to control the dashboard from the phone (press the play button to start navigating). The buttons on the bottom will give you options. Bottom left will take you back to the dashboards home screen whilst bottom right will give you options based on what screen you’re in.
If you scroll left, you’re given the Bing search box with top searches, much like if you hit left buffer (LB) on the xbox controller.

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From the dashboard home screen, scroll right to show your xbox live profile, friends and gamer points.

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Another scroll right shows you the list of games and achievements you’ve unlocked, and the final screen will show you featured games and films.

The most significant improvement is the controller function. The improved screen have corners to show the different colour buttons (yellow, red and blue) with an ‘x’ in the final corner. The green button is done by pressing anywhere on the screen.

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To me, Microsoft have made the UI and use of this app more intuitive. Will I use it all the time? Not if I’m about to play a game, that’s something the Smartglass app can’t do. Will I use it if browsing the Net? Yes. Having not used IE on the xbox other than briefly, I don’t know what it’s abilities are. I doubt it will be able to play flash videos so be unusable on sites that are made with flash. But with many sites being converted or written from scratch in HTML 5, it’s uses could expand in time.

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