The Xbox 360 SmartGlass app for Windows 8 is a killer app. With the ability to type using your computer’s keyboard on your Xbox and some games supporting second screen content, this is a must have if you own an Xbox 360 and a Windows 8 machine.
If you love SmartGlass and consider upgrading to a new gaming console, you should know that the Xbox One and its SmartGlass app are out now.
Setting this up is easy enough, but it will require Xbox Live. Thankfully, you don’t need a Gold subscription, just the free tier of Live. Then, simply sign-in on your Xbox and your Windows 8 device with the same Microsoft account.
If it’s not connecting, go to your Xbox and navigate to Settings > System > Console Settings > Connected Devices and make sure that SmartGlass is turned on.
The SmartGlass app is designed just as you would expect a Windows 8 app: lots of squares and side-scrolling. It will show you the games you’ve played recently to the right, what you’re playing currently in the front, and has a search option if you scroll left.
This generation of consoles brought forth a lot of great features, but SmartGlass is one of my favorite innovations. One of the biggest advantages of SmartGlass, in my opinion, is the Remote function. You can access this by pressing Remote on the home screen, or by swiping in from the top or bottom to access it from the settings. The Remote allows you to control your Xbox using your touchscreen, and it’s a great replacement for a controller.
The best part, though, is having access to a keyboard. When you get a field where text input is needed, the remote allows you to type with the keyboard on your Windows 8 device. If you hated slowly moving your joystick around to spell out words on the 360, the solution is here.
That’s about it for the basic functions of SmartGlass, but if developers take advantage of it, it can be a useful secondary screen for certain games. In this case, we’ll take a look at how Halo 4 uses this.
If you select Halo 4 from the dashboard on the Windows 8 app, you’re brought to the screen below. From there, you can set a Beacon — a notice informing your friends what game you are looking to play. You can also click the Play on Xbox 360 button to play the game, but obviously you will need the disk in or the game downloaded on your hard drive for that to work.
Scrolling further to the right allows you to see additional items related to the game, like add-ons or themes, as well as your achievements and progress through the game.
Once playing Halo 4, the official Halo 4 app will begin inside SmartGlass. Below is how the screen will appear, showing your Spartan as well as basic information like your level and how many games you’ve played.
From there, you can click on the left bar to bring out more options. All of this is stuff that you can already do within the Xbox 360, but this allows you to do it regardless of whether you’re searching for a game, waiting to respawn, or anything else.
You can check the daily, weekly, and monthly challenges and your progress within them from within the app, and leaving it open could be a good way to track your progress as you fight for a particular challenge.
Obsess over your kills to deaths ratio? I know many gamers who do, and this is the perfect part of the app for them, allowing you to quickly and easily check your K/D ratio on the go.
But this app is only this way because the Halo 4 developers made it so. Many other games utilise it in completely different ways, and it’s exciting to see where this might go in the future.
If you’re still rocking the 360, don’t forget to check out all of these amazing free games and downloads. Microsoft doesn’t exactly make it clear on the dashboard what is free-to-play, and much of the content can seem overpriced, so these free games can really be a money saver for 360 users.
What do you think of the SmartGlass app? A useless gimmick, or something you could actually take advantage of? Let us know in the comments.