By Jonathan Charles | Jun 05, 2012 11:43 AM EDT
At its June 4 E3 2012 conference, Microsoft unveiled SmartGlass for all Windows and non-Windows mobile devices. The software was pitched as a service for integrating all mobile devices and providing contextual information, or additional functionality when playing games.
The Verge published a preview hands-on with the app, and confirmed it's a Wi-Fi remote app. Launching the apps causes it to go into "listening" mode, and "seamlessly syncs up with any SmartGlass-enabled content providing the usual array of control."
SmartGlass is also built around "activities," as Microsoft said, which apparently includes elements such as a director's commentary to interactive maps (the latter was shown in the NFL Madden example during the conference, where the player controlled the play as it happened). SmartGlass will also provide information on a movie or TV show's cast, and presents information on the actors in the current scene.
"All of this added content is keyed off the timecode in the video stream, and Microsoft is hoping content creators will take the additional material if they're producing for Blu-rays, DVDs, websites and apps," The Verge said.
As mentioned, SmartGlass effectively brings a second controller to games. Along with the ability to manage plays in an NFL Madden title, while a game is in progress Halo Waypoint information and items in the Halo universe can be described. 343 Industries, the developers of Halo 4, debuted a similar feature in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, where players could 'scan' enemies and view them in a database. The Verge also said it saw a title called "Ascend" running on the Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone, where it showed a real-time map with the position of the player.
Earlier suspicions that the app was Microsoft-only have been debunked: the app works on iOS and Android devices. Microsoft said a video can be started on one SmartGlass device and resumed on another, while streaming video content from SmartGlass to the Xbox 360 is supported. Streaming wasn't confirmed for Android and iOS devices; as The Verge noted, iOS devices use AirPlay for streaming content. Apple could bar the feature from being used on its devices.
"If the content providers jump on board ... the system could become the interactive, digital video-equivalent of DVD special features. Not just for a single movie, either, but for all your video content ... That's not even touching on the possibilities on the gaming side, which would seem to render a system like the Wii U all but a curiosity," The Verge added.
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