Hands on with SmartGlass at E3 2012 – Windows Phone, Windows 8 & Xbox 360


Microsoft's SmartGlass on Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8

As E3 is just getting started we managed to sit down with Microsoft's Peter Orullian who not only has the most wicked ponytail ever but also gave us a personal tour of SmartGlass. As many of you know, Microsoft yesterday pulled the cover's off of the new technology which looks to unify media playback and enable "second screening" while watching a movie or TV Show.

SmartGlass will be device agnostic as there will be companion apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows 8 and of course it's all powered by Xbox 360. 

Many in our audience are already familiar with the Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone--a virtual remote control for the Xbox 360. From our discussion and hands on with SmartGlass we can tell you that this is in essence version 2.0 of the Xbox Companion app. Although SmartGlass won't be ready until this holiday season, the app in its early stages looks very similar to Xbox Companion and is in fact built off of the concept and UI, making this app feel quite familiar.

WP Central

SmartGlass for Windows Phone looks a lot like the Xbox Companion app

From our demonstration, we were impressed. Although "School of Rock" is a test movie for the system, the ability to see dynamically as characters came on and off the screen reflected on the tablet was simply amazing. What's really neat about the SmartGlass concept is that creators are free to do whatever they want with the system, giving them powerful leeway to make new experiences. It's universal, optional and will deliver a similar experience across platforms.

Make no mistake, we think SmartGlass is a game changer and can't wait till this Fall to get our hands on it. Watch our video below to see it all in action.


Reader comments

Hands on with SmartGlass at E3 2012 – Windows Phone, Windows 8 & Xbox 360


smartglass is a great innovative idea. Apple or Android just getting too boring with no innovative ideas. Using windows 8 preview have been getting many wow when I go to coffee shops. The wow are mostly mac users LoL...

Lol Microsoft were always the innovators they have just done some things at the wrong time, they have had thus planned for a long time, I hate how dumb most of the gaming community is, they all think Microsoft are ripping of the wiiU those sad people will get a wake up call when everyone is using the 3 screens! Haha

I honestly don't understand how people can say that Microsoft is copying the Wii U here (I've seen it over and over again in forums). SmartGlass puts the Wii U to SHAME! It's obviously been in production since long before the Wii U was announced, and does everything the Wii U is capable of + a ton more. The whole Wii - Kinect argument holds no grounds. Microsoft made something innovative with the Kinect and they are continuing to draw on it's potential. Good on you Microsoft.

See you have to know what both companies are trying to do here.  Microsoft isn't shaming nintendo in any way shape or form because they aren't trying to achieve the same things.  Yes, Nintendo is breaking the gap between multiple devices and the TV, but the main focus is on games.  Their focus is on asymetrical gaming, and the whole DS style input + traditional input + motion input.  Microsoft is going in a far more entertainment-centric direction and also a seamless stream of information across all your devices, aka the 3 screen concept.
Each tech is good in their own right, but have extreme refinements to do on both their parts.  we should be excited to be blessed with two solid pieces of innovation at once, and also be smart enough to notice what each company is trying to do with their respective tech. 

I said it before and I'll say it again. Apple's iPad paved the road, MS is making the cars to drive on it. Now I have to get an Xbox. Damn you MS and all of your awesome tech toys. I agree with you @thenet. Everyone at work that sees my windows 8 consumer preview are amazed at it.

MetroLink is too techy, I believe.

I actually really like SmartGlass. For one, anything with "smart" in it is generally good branding. Second, glass = windows = screen. Plus it just sounds nice.

Obvious this is a very early point in time, especially if the app for Windows Phone looks very similar to the Companion app. Give them time.
SmartGlass works because it's an accurate representation of the product, as MetroLink is too. Who knows, the name may change in future.

Microsoft are just making us more and more excited for the future, and it's a little annoying to me that we have to wait so long. I'm literally considering saving up (starting now) to buy myself a Windows 8 ARM tablet,  because I already have an Xbox 360, a laptop running Windows 8 RC and a Windows Phone 7 handset (a 1st gen one, but I think I'll wait for Windows Phone 8 before upgrading).
But in all seriousness, this shows that Microsoft have the right idea about what consumers want and need. As long as they pull this off correctly, we're going to see a major boom in Metro devices around the world.

I am saving my pennies for a W8 tablet...whenever they are released. This type of integration is killer!!!

@Daniel.... I think an important question that should be answered is how much connectivity will be implemented between WP and Windows 8. I think maybe you guys can sneak that question in if it hasn't been addressed.

I'm very curious about this too. If the Zune brand is going, does that mean the Zune desktop client will be merged into Windows 8? Personally I think Windows Media Player should simply be replaced by the Zune client, because it would be conistent with the rest of Metro and it would allow us to synchronise our phones without having to install extra programs.

The Zune desktop client is just going away. It will still be available for Windows 7 machines, but will no longer be tied to Windows Phone in any way once Windows Phone 8 is released. I agree that it's a significantly better media player than WMP, but Microsoft wants to shed the Zune name and anything associated with it. It would have been nice if they kept the Zune desktop client for at least the windows classic desktop version of Win8, but they didn't. :(

I have the same exact setup at home, Lumia phone, Xbox 360, and Samsung Slate running Windows 8. Can't wait for the Xbox companion updates.

now they just need to make an adjustable halfplit xbox controller and they'll just have killed the Wii U...
Ps: Am I really the only one who wished to play xbox game on w8 tablets (remoteFX style)? That would have clearly pushed me to buy an xbox (I own a ps3)...

You mean like the PS Vita remote play? I totally agree that would be awesome, but figuring out a control scheme to mimmick an xbox controler on a tablet would take some work and probably not be amazing. Microsoft really should make a PS Vita like device that does everything that SmartGlass does and can also play 360 games via a remote play like service. Obviously I'm dreaming and this will never happen, but it would be cool!

I was thinking of a normal controller but split in half so you can expand it, put a tablet in the middle. Now you have acces you inventory or a map or whathever, without having to put down the controller

That's great! I do wonder if it wouldn't be easier to have some sort of bracket system that can bolt onto existing controllers. i.e. In front of the controller and tilted up at an angle.

I've been suggesting a similar solution for years!!  I think it'd be great if they put a battery pack in the controller to suppliment the device's (phone) battery during game play.  And perhaps a couple stereo speakers.  You could have it hard wired in through the charge cable or have the controller connect through bluetooth.  I would definitely buy something like that!

Having just watch the Sony Playstation demonstration, I can easily say that Microsoft blew them and Nintendo out of the water.

I totally agree, Microsoft totally killed the competition. I was falling asleep through Nintendo’s conference, and Sony just looked like nobody was giving them love but the fan boys.  I can’t wait for the next Mobile Nation podcast. Daniel will be coming out weapons loaded. It’s going to be hard to say anything bad about WP. Now with a 100,000 apps in the marketplace what excuse can the competition say why WP can’t be their daily driver? It’s a great time to be a WP user.

I honestly think everything should be renamed Bing. Bing Music, Bing phone, Bing Tablet or at least Microsoft phone, music and tablet. Simplicity is the best way to market. So many different names just confuses my dad. And he is always the consumer I have in mind when I test/check out products. I always end up explaining them, but he takes pride in already knowing before I have to explain.

As much as I like Bing, it doesn't have the street Cred that Xbox has with consumers. Especially young, trend setting, tech fans. I'd even venture to guess that older consumers are probably more familiar with the Xbox than Bing.