Microsoft announces new Xbox SmartGlass experiences and commences free streaming Xbox Music

We wrote yesterday about the things to watch out for with the launch of Windows 8. One of those things was SmartGlass and Microsoft have now revealed more ahead of the launch. They have updated the Windows 8 apps and free streaming is now available for Xbox Music.

As part of a broader roll out of better entertainment services, SmartGlass aims to improve the ability to use tablets and smartphones to better control the experience with the Xbox 360.  The video goes on to show how internet sessions can be shared from Windows Phone 8 to the console, along with bouncing it back from the console to your tablet. It’s looking awesome, check out the video after the break.

"One browsing session travelling across three screens, that’s the magic of SmartGlass"

Samsung's ATIV S ushered into duty sharing a website with the Xbox..

During the video we can see a neat piece of integration between Windows Phone 8 on an ATIV S and the Xbox 360. While using IE on the phone he taps the context menu and selects share to Xbox, the browser session is sent over to the console and displays there. Text can be entered using the phones superior keyboard and gestures can be used to control the screen. Some of the features we have already seen but it’s nice to see them working as we hit the final stages. After that we see how using SmartGlass app on the phone, it’s possible to bring the browser session back to the tablet by pressing the Play Here button, launching IE on the tablet. In his words “one browsing session travelling across three screens, that’s the magic of SmartGlass”.

Expanded reach of Xbox entertainment services

In the announcement, Microsoft are keen to show that Xbox is evolving beyond a single device to a set of entertainment services. At present their services only reach 35 countries that looks set to expand to 222 with the launch of Windows 8 later this week. Essentially, Microsoft is expanding the service to encompass more of the territories that they sell Windows in, after all, how else will new Xbox Music users get their six months of free streaming? Regardless of the console being present they are keen to leverage the Xbox brand to market their revamped music and video services. Taking their user base from 70 million consoles to practically every new PC sold.

More affordable Xbox for US customers

They also announce that from this fall, US customer will be able to take advantage of the “Entertainment For All” pricing plan (mentioned back in early May). It will allow consumers to grab an Xbox360 for $99 when they sign up for two years of Xbox Live subscription. It will be available at Best Buy, GameStop, Walmart, Toys R Us and the Microsoft Store.

SmartGlass and Xbox Music Windows 8 Apps updated

Got Windows 8? Free streaming starts now, ends in six months time!

Microsoft have pushed out updates to the Window 8 Xbox Music and SmartGlass apps today. Quick take, SmartGlass functionality is now complete as per the video walkthrough, allowing the web sessions to be taken from Xbox to Windows 8 etc.

Free Streaming (Starting from today) - Now allows you to stream artist’s using Smart DJ or to select an Artist and play their content for free.

Xbox Music Cloud – “Keep music on this device in sync with other Xbox Music devices” and “when I add a song to my music on other devices, download here too”.

Previous Purchases - Also, as expected, all music purchased through Zune is now available to download thought Xbox Music to your tablet/PC or to simply stream. 

Playback screen - Updated

Playing to other devices from Xbox Music on Windows 8

You can’t use “Play To” from Xbox Music free streaming on your Windows 8 machine to send to your Xbox – you’ll need to get the Music Pass for that.

You can send free streamed music to a Bluetooth device so it’s not completely restricted.

Here are the key points of the announcement:

  • Navigate your Entertainment – Your phone and tablet will become the best remote controls in your house. Use the touch screen on your smartphone or tablet to control your Xbox 360, and use your devices to pause, rewind or advance entertainment.
  • TV & Movies – With Xbox Video, start a TV show or movie on your Windows 8 tablet and finish it on the big screen through Xbox 360; see the names of cast and crew for the film you are watching and discover related films. To give you one example of what you can expect, coming next season, HBO GO’s “Game of Thrones” will offer groundbreaking Xbox SmartGlass experiences.
  • Sports – While watching the game, use a second screen to follow real-time stats, player bios, news and highlights you may have missed. All of this and more will be available for NBA Game Time, ESPN and UFC in the coming months.
  • Music – Control your Xbox Music experience on the TV using your smartphone or tablet, discover related artists and songs, cue up additional music, read artist bios and more.
  • Internet Explorer for Xbox - The Web comes to TV like never before with Xbox 360 and Xbox SmartGlass. With your smartphone or tablet, pan or pinch and zoom to explore the Web on the largest and best screen in the house, enjoy easy text entry with the keyboard on your tablet or phone, and then move your browser back to your device to take it on the go.
  • Games – Get more from your game when you can use a second screen. Turn you phone or tablet into a virtual GPS in Forza: Horizon. Don’t stop the dance party in Dance Central 3 by going back to the menu to choose your next song. Instead, queue it up on your tablet or smartphone. In HomeRun Stars, use SmartGlass on your favorite device to throw a surprise pitch to your friend up at bat in front of Kinect. See detailed stats on how you are progressing in Halo 4, or check up on friends. All of these features and much more will be available when your favorite game extends to multiple screens.


Bing on Xbox Updates Arrive on Xbox Live

Also announced is a set of improved Bing updates for the console. Search on Xbox has been around for a while but with the update comes expanded reach so voice search will now work in the following regions: Australia, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain, Mexico, France, Canada (FR), Ireland, Japan, Austria and Switzerland (FR and German).

They claim to have improved the accuracy of voice searches along with expanded capabilities. Amongst them are the ability to search for music as well as search for movies by genre. A nice set of improvements to help make better use of that Kinect.

As we wrote yesterday, Microsoft’s “three screens” strategy will only be made possible with effective services. SmartGlass is one of those services, it’s looking great on Microsoft’s own products and more importantly for us as Windows Phone users we should be in line for some nice baked in abilities from the get go. Keeping that browsing session going between console, phone and tablet looks awesome.

We’re keen to hear what you think, so please so let us know in those comment below..

Robert Brand
  • I need an Xbox!
  • What MS really needs to make is a low-cost content syncing Xbox for us non-gamers.  Something like an Apple TV, that focuses on syncing content and media from your phone or tablet to your TV, or that includes the ability to purchase content directly on your TV.
    I'd love to have these features - but I don't want to spend all the money on an Xbox as I'm not a gamer.
  • Apple TVs run in the $100+ price range. With the recent price drop a slim 360 with 4GB internal memory is $150. It's not that much more expensive.
  • Thats very true however with $99 priced Xbox you move into that impluse buy territory as opposed to $150
  •  $150.00 with Kinect great deal I would take that deal anyday!
  • As mentioned above, you can get an Xbox for $99 if you sign up for a Xbox Music sub
  • +1
  • +1
  • I really like that I'm getting to see, and be a part of, the ecosystem that MS is making.
  • +1
  • Awesome!
  • the app is already available, includind the new music app with free music streaming been using them for a few hours.
  • Then I'd like to know where did you got them from lol..
  • do a check for updates in the windows store.
  • thanks for the heads up, checking them out now... RB
  • Why app??
  • Can't wait for the integration to take place!
  • Its finally all coming together. Nobody is even close to Microsoft.
  • The problem is that I think the tech bloggers will crucify metro UI like they did vista and people will not buy Windows 8. I think this is a strong possibility.
  • umm. everybody will likely just buy a Windows 8 Tablet then. it's simple. most Windows 8 sales will most likely based on tablets
  • +100
  • Tom Warren over at The Verge just put up his Windows 8 review.  Overall score of 8.8 (higher than the 8.7 given to Moutain Lion) really surprised me.
  • I agree. That was an excellent review. Specially coming from The Verge. They are typically always bashing anything Microsoft so for them to give W8/RT such a great review is very telling.
  • Just like they did with vista...three years later those same journalists started a petition to 'save' vista. History repeats itself.
  • history loves to repeat itself.
    Honestly, running it in a dual boot scenario right now, the only thing holding it back to me is support (drivers, etc). I'm happy with 7, but I won't fight an upgrade to 8 later, probably when i decide to spend the cash to build a new machine and retire my current box to media center duties. 
  • Is Smart Glass going to be available for Windows Phone 7 (or 7.8)?
  • Good question.
  • it will be available. don't worry.
  • Pretty sure it will as it will work for Android and I-products..... dumb as hell if it won't work on WP7 hehe so Im not worried... but then im getting the Lumia 920 lol
  • +1
  • It says on the SmartGlass website that it'll be available for 7.5 and 7.8, followed by a link to the XBOX Companion app.
  • I googled it last night and found the download link for WP. Clearly states 7.5, 7.8 and 8 as compatible. Too bad it took my to the bleh companion app when I clicked it.
  • Wow! And to think they haven't shown anything yet! Making Smartglass work with any and all pre-existing devices means Microsoft will succeed where others have failed. If they integrate Smartglass functionality into their hot game releases (like Halo 4) then they could compete with the Wii U's new "gimmick" without releasing a new console.
  • -1
  • they already demoed samrtglass working with halo 4 earlier. :)
  • Now this is how you promote your programs Microsoft!
    That was freaking awesome!!!
    they need to do one of this for Win8 and WP8 and have it plastard EVERYWHERE.
  • Wow! And to think they haven't shown anything yet! Making Smartglass work with any and all pre-existing devices means Microsoft will succeed where others have failed. If they integrate Smartglass functionality into their hot game releases (like Halo 4) then they could compete with the Wii U's new "gimmick" without releasing a new console.
  • -2
  • What's your problem? You must be a Nintendo fanboy.
  • I think his problem is that you posted it twice and that after 4 min of the previous..
  • Yea, that was a glitch with my HP touchpad. LOL But still, he minused the first one as well and his other comment below proved that he took exception to the Wii U comment.
  • Double posting.  And nope not a fanboy.  I think smartglass is genius.  Just don't get why people think the two different products compete with each other.  They were obviously created for two different reasons.  Also please re-read my comment below and see that it's from a neutral stand point.
  • Anybody remember Quantum of Solace where they swipe the intelligence from the touch-desk to the screen on the wall? Brilliant!! Love it.
  • So damn awesome. I pray all this is advertised prominently. You're not just buying a windows phone, a windows tablet / desktop, or an Xbox, you are buying a solid ecosystem built from ground up. One thing that i'd like to see is for the phone to browse to your computer or tablet directly. MS got a kick up the ass and now their finally awake. good shit
  • So if its availible in Italy, and German/French speaking Switzerland, will it also be avilible in Italian speaking Switzerland?
  • Do you mean the service as a whole or the voice recognition? RB
  • whoops, forgot to specifiy...yup...the voice recognition ^^
  • They need to be putting these gadgets side by side in the shops. MS also need to be showing a condenced version of this as prime time tv adverts.  Thats the way to get the phones & tablets into the hands of the great unwashed.
  • So the three screens they're talking about are the phone, tablet, and TV?  It wouldn't be possible to send your browser viewing over from IE on a desktop computer to a tablet, phone, or TV? Or vice versa?
    Also, the video mentioned specific transfers.  It seems as though the Xbox serves as a medium here.  You would have to transfer something from your phone to your Xbox in order to later send it to your tablet.  At least that's the way it comes off here.  
    It shows you sending a movie from your tablet to your TV and then back to the tablet.  Can it also send it to your phone?  It doesn't seem clear to me.
  • Did you miss the part where the name of this service is called "Xbox Smartglass"? And yes, you're right, that's how it works for now. Baby steps...
  • I don't own an Xbox. And likely never will. But SmartGlass is a clever! An answer to Nintendo and the Wii U Gamepad? Eh..I don't know. Problem is developers can't rely on Xbox gamers having a tablet or wanting to use their phones with their games. So the smartglass feature in gaming will be an option. And for some that option will be awesome. If those same developers are creating a game for the Wii U, well they can fully integrate certain features on the second screen because every person with a Wii U is guaranteed to have a gamepad. I just wish some idiots would stop acting like the two are competing. SmartGlass is obviously geared towards a whole new way to interact with your entertainment across devices. And gaming is a bonus to that. While the Wii u gamepad is geared specifically towards gaming. And interacting with other entertainment (Nintendo TVii) is a bonus.
  •   Smartglass is cross platform now, it’s a set of API’s – out of the 70 million xbox owners, how many do you think have a smartphone? Smartglass will just work great for those that have windows 8, smartphones and tablet computers. It’s going to enable some great living room experiences. Without much game support, Smartglass is still fully rounded. I don’t think it matters how it works with games, at least for hard-core gamers who normally don’t care for such things. RB
  • I agree 100%. There are a lot of people out there who think its "the answer to" the Wii u. Or believe that they are competing in some way. I just don't believe that's true. I'm excited for smartglass. Can't wait to see how it will be used..
  • Can I smartglass any movie from my tablet/pc?
    Like if am playing a movie from a USB, would it still be smartglass-able...?
    And do I have to be using the same network?
  • Same wifi, that how it currently connects for Halo waypoint. You can see your team on the map. Also content would be cloud content. Not local. Takes too long
  • I think its only for Xbox Music and Xbox Video. But can somebody clarify this point????
  • Yes, you can. However, you use the "Play-to" feature instead of Smartglass. I've actually been doing this with movies I've downloaded since I have had both Win8 and the new 360 software betas.
  • I like how days after the xbox update with IE, which reviews showed to be not all that great, MS starts pushing this out. My fears that MS was slipping back to some of its old habits were so awesomely unfounded, that I find myself speechless.
    Talk about a 1-2 punch
  • Killer feature, shame ots not WP exclusive.
  •   The Windows Phone version may have slightly better functionality than other clients. But honestly, I think the strength in these systems will be the inclusion of other devices. Should improve things like Smart DJ but providing more feedback and importantly not exclude consumers who have an Xbox 360 just because they don’t have a Windows Phone. RB 
  • If you look at the YouTube comments, they're saying the guy was using on an android phone, when really its Samsung ativ s with that blobby unrealistic dandelion wallpaper.
  • Now i just need Xbox Microsoft Surface Windows Phone Huge TV Invite people to my house to brag
  • Thats quite the shopping list! LOL RB :)
  • I have Xbox
    Preordered surface
    Preordering lumia 920
    Have 55 in Samsung tv and lots of haters to brag too
    The plan has been set into motion >:)
  • Nice list - glad you have some haters to brag too also ;) RB
  • Hey thanks Robert I'll let you know how it goes =) im an evangelist for Microsoft so people better be ready to hear it from me! >:]
  • Well, you're going to have plenty to show off come holidays, shall we even go into the coming updated Xbox? :) RB
  • Most Deffinately and best believe im grabbing the new Xbox ;)
  • If thats the 55" samsung smart tv we seem to have the exact same plan going on :) would be nice if smart glass could work directly from wp8/w8 tablet to wifi enabled tv though
  • absolutely my microsoftian brother ;)
  • I've been working towards this for the last two years.  I've got 3 DLNA TVs in our house.  I'd never buy another TV that wasn't DLNA enabled.  The only piece of the puzzle missing is the XBox.  I was trying to wait until the new year when the new XBox is rumoured to come out, but it may prove hard to resist the siren call of Smartglass.
    FWIW, here's the progress on our media wall.  The 1ft red shelf above the TV area slides out to hold a Kinect.
  • Nice pooch!! What is the area to the top right corner of where the TV goes?
  • I dont have much to say. I just want to be a part of the winking festival in this thread ;-)
  • Great stuff indeed.
  • This is pretty awesome stuff... all I need is an Xbox, lol. That's planned for Christmas though. Until then, I'm still REALLY hoping Microsoft will announce an Xbox Videos Pass, so that I can have access to unlimited video streaming. I just checked last night, and Xbox Videos have all but 3 of my favorite shows, and the 3 it doesn't have are ones I could get elsewhere or don't care that much about. Movie selection is already better than Netflix too. I could give up Hulu Plus and Netflix and cable if they did this. Up to $100/month for it would still be cheaper than what I pay today, and I'd have much better options.
  • +1000000000000000000
  • That's a good idea, wonder why they dont offer a big ole entertainment bundle? Could grab a few takers for sure! RB
  • Agreed
  • Microsoft should offer ala cart subscriptions for Live, Music, Video etc. And the one dicounted bundle package (Xbox Live Platinium?) for everything. Price it @ $19.99/month and they would have me without hesitation.
  • also second this!
  • Usability Testing Action is the foundational key to all success.  
  • Is this going to be available on WP 7 devices? I saw Major Nelson's post, they stated every platform, even iOS and Android, EXCEPT WP 7. If that is really true, then Microsoft is just asking for it
  • Edit: My bad - got over-excited
  • i cant wait. this is better than the wii u. the wii u controller is ugly too big and a small screen in the middle next to those cramped ugly controlls. smartglass is more versitale, more sizes and more choices and expandable smartphone or tablet or laptop or pc.
  • Currently viewing this article from my bed via my Xbox :D man having IE on this huge TV kicks ass!!
  • From Xbox Music section "Free streaming limited to 10 hours/month after 6 months; unlimited with paid subscription". I remember when Pandora had the 40 hour limit per month. Went through that in a week. 10 hours is nothing
  • Problem with all those kind of services:
    It's mainly tailored to mainstream people. For example I enjoy listening to Doujin circles like Alstroemeria Records. Xbox Music will have (as Zune has) a hard time recommending relevant Artists to me. (Just like Soundhound, Shazam etc. can't even recognize 10% of my library).
    Makes it that much less useful for me.
    Why can't they at least access gracenote for the Metadata? Gracenote actually knows 99% of my library.