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Microsoft details SmartGlass integration with Xbox One

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Microsoft's second-screen experience, SmartGlass, will offer enhanced functionality for Xbox One users, allowing them to use the app as an interface for the console even when they're away from it, Microsoft said today on Xbox Wire.

The company confirmed SmartGlass would work with Xbox One, and announced a few of the app's features, during the console's reveal event this past May.

"With SmartGlass for Xbox One you can use your phone, laptop or tablet as a remote to easily navigate the web on your console, turn up the volume on your TV and select a video, music or game to play," said Ron Pessner, head of the SmartGlass engineering team. "We are working with all of our game and entertainment partners to build really cool experiences that take advantage of the fact that you have smart devices connected to your Xbox One."

At a baseline level, SmartGlass for Xbox One runs faster than the existing app and connects to your console much more quickly — it takes about four seconds to recognize the system. And with the new app, as many as 16 different devices running SmartGlass can connect to a single Xbox One, which allows for a higher player count in experiences like card games and MMOs.

SmartGlass for Xbox One is much faster than the existing app

According to Pessner, the increase in speed comes largely from a new method of connectivity: SmartGlass connects directly to Xbox One over your home's Wi-Fi or LAN, instead of having to interface with a data center that could be "halfway around the world."

Other features new to SmartGlass on Xbox One include Game Help, which provides "contextually aware information" if developers have built a manual for SmartGlass. You'll also be able to use the app for matchmaking, even while you're in the middle of a different game mode.

The app will serve as an Xbox One dashboard away from the console, displaying information about Xbox Live friends and Achievements and allowing you to watch Game DVR clips. Xbox One owners who use the console's TV overlay will be able to navigate that interface on a second screen with SmartGlass, doing things like changing channels on their cable box, viewing its program guide and turning up the volume on their TV.

SmartGlass for Xbox One will be separate from the SmartGlass app that's currently available on laptops, tablets and smartphones. The Xbox One companion app will be released this holiday season on Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, iOS and Android.