SmartGlass for Xbox One looks like a big improvement
There’s a new Xbox SmartGlass app available for Windows Phone that’s made for the Xbox One. It’s kind of strange that you need a completely different SmartGlass app for the new Xbox One vs. the old app for the Xbox 360, but it makes sense that the new version is completely redesigned to offer many more features. We don’t have an Xbox One to test it on just yet, but according to the screenshots, it looks like there’s some great new functionality such as volume control. Having to pick up a TV remote with the Xbox 360 in order to control the audio volume or turn off the TV was so annoying. It’s good to see extraneous remote controls won’t be necessary with the Xbox One.
All of the older SmartGlass functions are still there. You can use your phone’s keyboard to enter web page URLs or fill out any other text fields. You can perform Xbox searches without interrupting what is currently playing and you can use multi-touch to navigate the Xbox One interface as well as pan and zoom through web pages. Context sensitive companion apps that can turn your SmartGlass app into a custom second screen interface for whatever game or app you’re using on the big screen are also still there. You can also watch game DVR clips from the new SmartGlass app, though it’s unclear if you can control game DVR recording from it.
It looks like you can now manage your pinned apps from the phone however, and that sounds like a great new feature. It was always a chore to try to pin and arrange favorites on the Xbox 360. Achievements and Xbox Live messaging are now part of the Xbox SmartGlass app as well. Those functions are also available in the Windows Phone game hub though, so it seems a bit redundant.
The new app should support faster and more reliable connections than what was available on the Xbox 360. If you’ve used SmartGlass for Windows Phone with the Xbox 360, you’ll remember how annoying it is that the SmartGlass app has to reconnect every time you switch apps on the phone. Hopefully that has been fixed on the Xbox One.
I’m also hoping we’ll see some more advanced functionality come to the SmartGlass apps on Xbox One. I don’t see anything about the Xbox One Guide being navigable on SmartGlass yet. That seems like an important and very useful feature. There isn’t any indication that you could stream full game displays to SmartGlass connected devices like the PSP can do with the PS4.
Are you getting an Xbox One this week? You can get ready by downloading the new Xbox SmartGlass app right now.
UPDATE: The Verge has also found that you’ll be able to load apps in snap view using the SmartGlass app from your phone.