The unveiling of the upcoming Xbox Smart Glass technology was an undisputed highlight of Microsoft’s E3 2012 press conference. For some, there could have been a greater emphasis on the games. But for others, SmartGlass turned Microsoft into a show winner – looking every bit the next great evolutionary leap in the console’s life cycle with its smartphone and tablet integration through all manufacturers, and the subsequent ability to interact with gameplay and dashboard apps.
However the public enthusiasm gauge reads, SmartGlass is a vital component of Microsoft and Xbox’s future, a bigtime investment they no doubt see expanding with the growing digital age and the next-generation of consoles. Phil Spencer, corporate VP of Microsoft Studios, wants his developers to start utilizing the interface right away. Every last of one of them.
According to Joystiq, Spencer told the website that all games developed by Microsoft Studios going forward will support SmartGlass. They might not have to provide data for split-second-decisions – like an enemy location or the key to a puzzle – but even the smallest extra touches can help to enrich the experience (Spencer cited Halo Waypoint Atlus app, a GPS tracker for multiplayer, as an example of a non-intrusive approach):
“It just makes so much sense for a developer who wants to supply, maybe not time-critical information, like ‘that enemy is getting ready to shoot you,’ but information that augments what’s happening on screen.
“And then you’re even going to see situations like with Ascend, where there’s actually gameplay that happens on the phone, even when you’re away from your television and that interacts back with the online game that’s happening. So I think you’ll see information sharing, context sharing while you’re in the room, with video and with games, as well as gameplay happening in more distributed environments.”
Spencer then goes on to discuss the finer points of SmartGlass, stressing that it won’t require a constant runaround of opening and closing separate apps. It’s a single, all-encompassing app that, when on, syncs to the features of whatever SmartGlass-enabled program the Xbox mothership is running:
“So you have this surface, this smart surface…that sits on any device that you already own that’s always in sync with what’s happening on the television, and it knows where to go and grab the right content to display at the right time, to make sure that if you’re playing Halo, then the Halo surface is available on SmartGlass.”
Scheduled for release this fall, SmartGlass – as well as its library of supported games – is still in its infancy. But in addition to SmartGlass games already teased at E3 – Halo 4, Madden 13, Ascend – Microsoft Studios’ full adoption of the initiative means that we’re almost sure to see it in Forza Horizon, Fable: The Journey, and the constant spate of the company’s Kinect and XBLA releases.
Ranters, how do you envision SmartGlass affecting the proverbial “Xbox Experience”? Are more stat tracking and communication features necessary to enhance a game? Will fancier tablet devices – if unable to serve directly as a controller – be able to emulate features of the Wii U GamePad such as inventory management and even co-op functions?
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