Friday, June 15, 2012

Xbox Everywhere

The day draws near when I can take my phone, turn on my Xbox 360, play a game, and then continue the social interaction via a Facebook game. For the past few years connectivity has been pushed into mobile devices so that they are used in conjunction with home electronics. Windows has a plethora of sync and remote access functions for phones and laptops. Windows Phones also have access to Xbox Live, with the ability to purchase games and view content. Now Android devices get a chance at nifty remote control features too.

With the Android OS release of the My Xbox App, your Android phone can act as a remote for moving through your Xbox Home Menu. The iOS version was released some time ago but received a large update with the Android release, fixing bugs and turning your iOS device into a remote control for your 360. While you can’t turn the 360 on or view content, your iPhome/iPad can serve as a remote for navigating menus and as a DVD remote with pause, playback, rewind, and fast forward controls. Last week at E3, Microsoft announced Smartglass, which is, in time, supposed to turn your smartphone/tablet into a tool that can be used while sitting down in front of your TV. The Android device release, and iOS update, is definitely a step in that direction, giving you more control via mobile devices that would otherwise be sitting on a desk or in a pocket.

While it does seem slightly redundant when most of the control and navigation offered is available through a controller or a Kinect if you have one, the free app and the expansion onto Android devices is a good option for those who don’t have over $100 to spend on a Kinect. Also, the DVD playback functionality, as well as the ability to navigate menus, can be more convenient if you’re watching a movie or multitasking in some way and don’t exactly have two free hands to use an Xbox 360 controller. I’ll definitely download the free app and give it a try, since it’s fairly certain that the app will be updated to add more controls.
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