SmartGlass Already Facing Trouble If It Launches Without iOS and Android Support
With the Xbox 360’s latest dashboard update out for everyone this week, there remains just one of its components to be launched: SmartGlass. The companion application for tablets and phones has the potential to be a significant feature for Xbox 360, and I was excited to try it out for myself once it became publicly available. Microsoft announced this week that SmartGlass will be launched alongside Windows 8 this Friday, October 26. I had my copy of Forza Horizon readied to see how well SmartGlass works in a first-party game, which should provide a good glimpse of what SmartGlass can realistically offer right now. Unfortunately, by all indications I — along with most people — will be unable to try it out this week because it inexplicably and unforgivably lacks support for iOS or Android right out of the gate.
In expressing my thoughts on how SmartGlass could give Wii U some trouble following its E3 reveal, I made note of what was probably the single most-important detail announced that day: support for non-Windows devices. By providing support for iOS and Android devices alongside its own line of products, Microsoft ensured SmartGlass’s install base would be significantly larger than it otherwise would have been and that it had a chance at being something more than a poorly-supported Windows Phone-only feature. Better yet, in many people’s case it meant all you would need to do to get a Wii U-style experience is download the SmartGlass app. Sure, it may not be a perfect stand-in for games designed specifically for Wii U’s GamePad, but not everyone necessarily needs that. Whatever the case, the availability of SmartGlass could only help the Xbox 360 this holiday season.
As it turns out, this critical point which Microsoft was universally applauded for is not indicative of what to expect from SmartGlass at launch. Joystiq reports Windows 8 devices will be the only ones capable of making use of the new feature on Friday; iOS and Android support won’t be coming until sometime next year. While these details weren’t made explicit in the official announcement, the company has not denied them, and, frustratingly, it isn’t offering specifics of any kind when pressed for more information.
Launching SmartGlass as a Windows 8-only proposition for the time being makes little sense. Support for SmartGlass is hardly what you would call extensive at this point — Forza Horizon andDance Central 3 are among the only available games to make use of it, along with a handful of apps like HBO Go and ESPN. In other words, SmartGlass is not some killer exclusive for Windows 8 devices. Unusual as it may have looked, Microsoft would have been better off delivering SmartGlass support for iOS or Android first, considering their respective install bases dwarf that of Windows 8 devices and are likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It’s impossible to predict how the new Microsoft Surface will sell for sure, but the newly announced iPad 4 and iPad Mini aren’t going to do it any favors.
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