The much anticipated Xbox 360 Dashboard update has been here for some people around a week now and for me the one thing I was looking forward to was the “SmartGlass” feature. I’m sure we all knew an app would come straight to Windows Phones and tablets but there were no definitive words on the new feature coming to Android or iOS devices.
I can now (sort of) reveal that the SmartGlass app for Android is now available in the Play Store for free! I’ve had a little play with it and I can truly say it’s going to change the way we use the Xbox Dashboard.
Once you’ve downloaded the app you sign in as you would on your Xbox console, once you’ve done that and before you’ve even connected it to your Xbox 360 you’re able to see your Avatar, the recent games or apps you’ve played / used as well as a few other features such as recommended games, movies, and apps. At first the app had a few issues connecting to my Xbox, I’m unsure if it was because I signed in on my console while the app was trying to connect to it, but once I restarted both the Xbox, signed in, and then opened the app I managed to connect – no problem.
You’re met with a little pop-up notification saying that “[your gamertag] has connected using SmartGlass” or something along those lines and from there you can activate the remote via the app and begin to navigate your dashboard by swiping and tapping your smartphone or tablet. Navigating your Dashboard using the SmartGlass app isn’t really any different to using your controller, if anything it’s a novelty, it’s not 100% smooth either, I often found myself swiping left and right a few times before it caught up with itself and then acted like it had a mind of its own..
The main advantage I’m most pleased with is the ability to type messages using your phone or tablet. No longer do we have to spend 15 minutes typing a short sentence using the controller, nor do we have to go out and spend £15+ on the 360 Messenger Kit – I’m not sure if this is a smart move on Microsofts part, but hey.. I’m not complaining.
My next favourite feature on both the app and the new update is the Internet Explorer and the SmartGlass integration. Much like the PS3 browser you’re given a little cursor to navigate around the screen using your controller, it’s not exactly the easiest way to navigate the screen but to some degree it works. With the SmartGlass app that all changes because you can now use your touch screen to move the mouse as well as type in the address bar and pinch-to-zoom in and out of the webpage. Much like the dashboard navigation it’s not without it’s bugs, If you can put up with the occasional lag in communication between your device and the Xbox this is perfect.
The biggest issue I found was actually trying to type within a webpage. I tried typing a tweet and ohhh was that a pain in the ass. I’m not sure what the issue was, whether it was SwiftKey or a communication error, but I found myself typing like a granddad with one key at a time so the app recognised what I was trying to type. It was difficult to say the least.
Overall though I’m pretty impressed with the app and the SmartGlass feature so-far, I can see it needs a few kinks ironing out, but the app has only just been added to the Play Store so I can understand it may have a bug or two.
You can find the SmartGlass app on the Play Store, fortunateness there’s still no word on an iOS app.