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First impressions: Xbox SmartGlass for Android (Update)


Today is a good day for Xbox users with an Android smartphone. Microsoft has finally released the Xbox SmartGlass Android app, and we have been playing around with it for a bit. SmartGlass promises a second screen to use with the Xbox 360, much like the WiiU and its gamepad.

As the feature develops, one will be able to access secondary menus and options with a smartphone or tablet, without interrupting your game or media. During Microsoft’s demo, a tablet was able to access information about the battlefield while watching video of a war in the popular series Game of Thrones. That level of interactivity definitely seems like a step forward as we approach a new era in video gaming.

The app doubles as a SmartGlass and Xbox Live app. One has access to messages, friends, currently-played games/apps and even featured content. On the SmartGlass side, one is able to use an Android device as a form of remote control for the Xbox 360. You can easily navigate around the dashboard, and open any games or apps of your choice; all by sliding and tapping your finger on the navigation screen (reminds me of a mouse app for Android and PC).

The new app has its good and bad sides, so let’s just jump in and see what we have.

The Good

Xbox SmartGlass has all those features we are salivating over (even if not perfect yet), but there is more to it. Xbox 360 junkies will be able to have a central app, allowing them to access Xbox Live content on-the-go. I have been using it to read and send messages, look for new games and search for apps. If you are interested in any of the content found on the device, you can go ahead and pull it out on your Xbox by simply tapping a button. One can purchase it from there.

Likewise, there are other shortcuts and features that are very helpful. Everything from being able to search and access content to enjoying Play, Rewind and Forward shortcuts appearing under the navigation screen when playing a movie on Netflix.

The Bad

Because it is made by Microsoft, it’s to be expected that Windows Phone will get the better end of the stick. Certainly, the app is good, but it feels like it is not fully developed, but it could also be an issue of SmartGlass, itself. With that said, there are some faults we wish to see improved in the near future.

For one, the Dashboard navigation screen is a bit laggy. We must consider the device communicates with the Xbox via internet, so that should definitely make it a bit slower. The interface is also a designed oddly. It seems like a pressed down Xbox 360 interface instead of an Android app. It is a form of mix between the Xbox UI and the Windows Phone Metro UI, which makes it feel very out-of-place.

All aesthetics aside, the app does need some functional improvements. It is quite annoying to see that even when the app is left open, it has to sign back in if the screen goes to sleep and you turn the device back on. If you hit the home button and re-open the app, it has to sign in again. Pretty much, it seems to lose connection with your Xbox every time you leave the app. It could be a battery-saving “feature,” but it would be nice to have the option to keep a stable connection.

Another noticeable issue is that the navigation screen is not very helpful when using it to control the pointer (with the browser, for example). Navigation works perfectly for the Dashboard and apps as the Metro UI lets you jump to categories and tiles one by one. It gets very hectic when you are trying to use the pointer, though. The SmartGlass navigation screen is no use, the pointer moves like a millimeter per full swype. It is simply unusable, so you might as well pick up your controller and use that.

For some reason, I have also not been able to use the keyboard, even though there is a shortcut for it. I just can’t pull it up, whether it is in the browser, the Search Box or within an app.

Verdict

As you can see, the app has more downsides than I expected. Over all, it works for what it is intended for, but Microsoft has a lot of work to do. We need a bit smoother navigation, better shortcuts and a working keyboard. Not to mention full compatibility with at least all native apps.

I have not tried the Windows Phone app yet, but I sincerely hope it is better than the Android one. Ultimately, SmartGlass has huge potential. Let’s hope it evolves into all that Microsoft promised and other developers make great features for it.

I have been here breaking my head over it, thinking maybe I was doing something wrong. If you have been using SmartGlass and have found these (or more) issues, please let us know! If not, you can go ahead and download it straight from the Google Play Store. As for me, I will start using it more once it becomes more integrated and seamless.

Update

The slow pointer and keyboard issues were fixed after connecting my Android smartphone to the same WiFi connection as the Xbox. I happen to prefer using Verizon’s 4G LTE, so I almost never connect my device to my home WiFi.

I definitely apologize for this misunderstanding, but that brings another issue. The app certainly connects to my Xbox and does other things when not on the same network. Why not make these features available regardless of how the device connects to the internet?

Thanks, ego!




  • ego

    I arrived solved the keyboard problem by connecting to the same Wi-Fi network as my Xbox.

    • Edgar Cervantes

      AAAAH I see! Let me check that out.

  • Bugs

    Not compatible with the nexus 7 = FAIL!!!! Duel screening with the TV using a tablet is a thing. Do your homework MS.

    • Robert Manser

      Yes it is you have to sideload it.

      • http://twitter.com/Dan1948 Dan Bourget

        I’m not familiar with sidloading is there a place to get instructions on how to sideload? I’m unable to install smartglass on my Galaxy 10.1 tab.

        • Robert Manser

          You can use the tab to find the apk online then download it using the tablet and go into your downloads and install. You will probably have to go into settings, then security, device administration then go to device administrator and check allow non market apps. You can also use your home computer and connect tablet to computer.

        • Aslan Bollin

          Assuming you’ve got an Android phone capable of downloading and installing the app/s you want to sideload onto another device, heres the easiest and safest way which doesnt involve going online and downloading apps from people you do not know.

          First things first. On the device you wish to sideload the app onto go to settings/security and ensure unknown sources is enabled. On older Android builds it is located at settings/application. Just be wearey of installing apps from people you do not know and you’ll be fine.

          Secondly, from your other device and download “myappsharer” from the playstore.
          This app allows you to pull an apps apk file then upload it to your box, dropbox, spideroak or whatever cloud storage you may use or just email it if it is not too large a file. Just make sure you select apk rather then link at the top. Then scroll/search for the app/s you wish to sideload, select them, click share and choose where/how you wish to send/share it.

          Lastly, go back to the divice you wish to sideload, download and install the app from your email/cloud storage or whatever and enjoy.

  • Robert Manser

    love it works great.

  • Robert Manser

    If your using at hotspot on your device it’ll allow the use of keyboard and everything else. So I use the the phone for hotspot and app.

  • brad lanphere

    Okay I have had the Xbox app for awhile on my EVO 4g LTE and when I checked for an update it showed zero updates so is this a seperate app or is it an in the Xbox app update not from the play store or what? Am I missing something here !?

    • wombat90

      different app

  • toomuchgame441

    Played around with SmartGlass on my Evo LTE and it works well enough, some updates should smooth everything over

  • Modman

    This app sucks its not compatible with lg motion nexus 7 nook color. What the heck is it compatible with? Wish I knew.

    • cammykool

      compatable with my one v. downloading now to sideload to my n7

    • Aslan Bollin

      Works just fine on my GSIII downloaded right from the Playstore and on my N7 aswell after sideloading it.

  • Mel E

    No luck sideloading on a original Kindle Fire

  • Abefrooman

    Keyboard works great and so does the pointer not sure your problem epic 4g

  • GavinGG

    It works perfectly for me! No complaints here! I love it. Makes a lot of things easy for me now

  • http://twitter.com/Nuniol Marcin Schmeidel

    So what’s the point for Xbox Live app now?

    • Aslan Bollin

      yeah, wondered why they didnt just combine the 2 myself, but Im thinking its because this is android 4.0 and up only while My Xbox Live I believe runs on older builds aswell.

  • Will Tisdale

    Blah blah blah, this article reeks of Microsoft hating. Strangely enough, none of the ‘issues’ you present in your article above have affected me. I suspect a case of PEBKAC, which is confirmed in your update.

    Of course it’s going to be crap when using a mobile network, the latency is too high. You need to be more objective in your articles.

  • MisterMints

    not compatible with my nexus 7 or my desire HD. awesome!

  • zedthegreat

    Seems to require android 4.0+……. Well that’s me done (this is when fragmentation is an issue)

  • PhilNelwyn

    The unstable connection problem sounds like a stock Android issue I’ve experienced for quite a long time, even when “always on” is selected in the WiFI advanced settings.

    I can’t listen to a full album (and sometimes not even an entire song) on Spotify, or download a large file, without letting the screen on or using an app like “WIFI High Performance Widget.”

  • BigCiX

    Flawless on my One X.

    • http://www.facebook.com/drake.landry.9 Drake Landry

      Flawless on my GSM nexus

  • Lee McLaurin

    Just installed on my SGS3. Very impressive app and very responsive. It makes using IE on the XBoX that much easier with scrolling and using the phone to type and scroll at the same time.

  • http://twitter.com/SebasCvdB Sebastiaan vd Berg

    Actually been working great for me, the use in internet explorer has been awesome. I do not see the bad you guys are seeing. Been using it on Galaxy S 3

  • ShangTsung702

    I completely disagree “The Bad” section that Edgar wrote. I experience zero lag when connected to a WiFi network (which is how a phone should be used when at home anyway). The navigation doesn’t really require any improvement. When using the B-X-Y navigation screen, you shouldn’t be looking at your phone when swiping screens. Do you look at the controller when using it? In my opinion, it’s a wonderful app that I’ve been waiting a long time for, and didn’t even know it.

  • Robert Manser

    I just read the article and very displeased with the hatred of Microsoft. And all the bad you pointed out hasnt been an issue on none of my 7 Android devices, and half of them were sideloads.

  • Modman

    Works beautiful on nexus 7 if sideloaded. Just didnt appreciate that it asked me to create an addition 360 account i cant delete. Sideloading also opens up opportunity for malware. Why in heavens sake isnt nexus 7 supported?

  • munee

    No problems on my gnex. I like it. now I want to see how they integrate actual games into this. Once that happens it will be perfect.

  • NightAngel79

    Awesome write up Edgar! Does gamefans have a post on this a well?

  • http://twitter.com/jonahly1 jonah

    :( Another link please? Preferably one that i can use my computer to download it.

    (P.S. for people confused with why I’m using my computer for it not tablet)
    *My Tablet is a 4’3 inch Polaroid Android 4.0.4; And I can’t use PlayStore or BlackMart Alpha
    Only Amazon :( So I use my computer: Fedora 17 LXDE Which had Dropbox installed, so when I download a apk file on here, I can put it on my dropbox, and my tablet has dropbox. So when I sync it I can just install it through my tablet :D*

    Thank You For Wasting Your Time Reading That ^

    Application Help***************************************************************************************************
    BlackMart Alpha; The name tells it all, it’s a *FREE ANDROID APP* That gives you *MOST ANDROID APPS THAT ARE IN THE PlayStore FOR FREE!!* It recently has been messed up a bit but should be working properly soon. :D

    OS Help***********************************************************************************************
    Fedora 17 LXDE: Just a side operating-system of the many OS’s That are Linux. Linux is a Computer OS That is a HUGE competition against Windows & Mac, It’s as beautiful as a Mac, and Way-Faster And Sleeker than Windows.

    FAQS & Info About Linux
    ——————————-
    What’s so special about Linux?

    For a start its fast, beautiful, and its Open-Sourced!
    There are Hundreds of OS Based off the Linux Base code lines.
    There are a few problems with some Linux OS Though, You may not be able to use your favourite programs. :( But don’t worry, you’ll figure out a way.

    HELP WITH Linux
    ———————–
    If you do install linux, also install Wine, It’s a program that may help you install windows program.

    ************If you made it all this way I’m proud of you***********************************

  • modman

    For my regular computing needs I use Side Linux 11.1 with the paid wine crossover to run office 2007. Haven’t had a reason to load 2010 but probably could. Glad I have a nexus 7 cause

  • modman

    Loading a VM this my Linux box to run Xbox 360 glass seems more trouble than its worth. Although it would be cool to see. Running android in a vm. A PC still isn’t as portable as a tablet. Why not try to drop box hack the .apk on your tablet?

  • modman

    Try this no matter where you want to download it https://www.dropbox.com/s/go8ufab7pd9emxs/com.microsoft.smartglass.apk

  • Paul Meyer

    My stock gallery and video player apps on my Note II now have a button to stream to the Xbox via SmartGlass. It works really well, but my friend’s Galaxy Nexus is not getting that option, and ideas?

  • http://ootpapps.com/ Out of the Park Apps

    Paying attention Sony?

  • Guest

    Personally I would have scrapped the whole review after releasing it was not on the same WIFI network, mainly because that is a massively embarrassing oversight which stops the review making any sense what so ever. Take this down and do it again for goodness sake.

  • fourthletter

    Personally I would have scrapped the whole review after realising it was not on the same WIFI network, mainly because that is a massively embarrassing oversight which stops the review making any sense what so ever. Take this down and do it again for goodness sake.

  • http://www.phandroid.com Quentyn Kennemer

    Really love this app. For now it’s just a navigational and search tool that can beam video content to your TV and let you control IE and dashboard navigation, but hopefully Microsoft adds more functionality over time. And yes, being on the same WiFi network as your Xbox will help tremendously. Pretty much no lag (and there’s no reason not to be on WiFi if you have a WiFi connection inside your home).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Beechwood/665292584 Mark Beechwood

    Leaves pre- 4.0 users out in the cold. I have an HTC G2, no love there, “Is not compatible with any of your devices.” My Gold Level membership will run out before my contract with T-Mobile can be updated to a new handset.. *Sigh*

  • http://AfterCredits.com Chris R.

    Sony: Step it up!