Friday 8 june 2012
iPads on Xboxes? Books that make magic? Here are the biggest announcements from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo at E3 2012.
Video gaming’s biggest convention of the year
is going on right now, led by press conferences from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. E3 2012
has been games and hardware, not consoles: While 2011 brought Nintendo’s Wii U announcement, neither Sony nor Microsoft is revealing its next console just yet, and Nintendo doesn’t have much new
But there is an advantage to the mature consoles of today: getting all sorts of new things to do with the hardware we already own (and it sure beats spending more money!). Microsoft will stream
content to iOS and Android devices
, while Sony is making books magical.
Here are the key announcements from the big three briefings.
Xbox SmartGlass: a second screen for the Microsoft Xbox 360
While video games consoles
traditionally have been closed to products by third parties, Microsoft
is opening up the Xbox 360 to iPads, iPhones, and Android devices through a free multiplatform portal app it calls SmartGlass.
"You launch your SmartGlass app, then it pairs you with your console," Xbox Live Corporate Vice President Marc Whitten tells PM. "It then stays in sync with the experiences you have on your
For example: During the presentation, Microsoft demonstrated watching a movie on a tablet and then continuing it on the 360. More impressively, it demoed playing Game of Thrones
360 through HBO Go while feeding a map of Westeros (the show’s primary setting) to the iPad; the map showed where each scene was taking place in time with the show.
SmartGlass, then, can provide simple Wi-Fi remote integration like we see on a lot of the newest TVs—or something far more robust. In Xbox 360 games, SmartGlass can serve as a creative secondary
controller. A press demo showed calling plays on Madden NFL
through a touchscreen.
Still, are there any imposed limitations on how developers integrate touchscreens with the Xbox? When we asked Whitten if, say, mundanely duplicating the stock 360 controller on a touchscreen
would be allowed, he said, "If that’s best for the experience . . . sure." So it would seem there’s no single rubric Microsoft will impose on developers.
SmartGlass will also power the newly announced Internet Explorer on the Xbox 360. An iPad could serve as a giant trackpad, allowing you to use a cursor on the television in an interface
reminiscent of Pinterest. We’ve seen the trackpad idea in iOS/Android apps before, but it’s brilliant to bring it into the living room. And text input will be entirely predictable because the
keyboard will always be the stock keyboard from your mobile device
Technically speaking, SmartGlass’s limitations seem few: It can stream content from both the cloud and the 360, meaning pulling dynamic information from the Web—such as real-time stats from
basketball games—is entirely possible. The bigger question is, will developers take the extra time to build robust SmartGlass experiences into their games and media? With hundreds of millions of
Android and iOS devices on the market, the answer to that question seems obvious.