Xbox 360 games controllers could be getting even less use when SmartGlass arrives later this year alongside Internet Explorer, music subscriptions and more video channels.
SmartGlass is an application that turns PCs, phones and tablets into second screens for the Xbox 360, letting users control it, watch videos and see extra content.
The SmartGlass application shown off at gaming expo E3 runs on Windows 8 PCs, and phones and tablets running Windows Phone, Android and iOS.
Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, said: “Xbox is on a mission to make the entertainment that you love even more amazing.
“With Xbox SmartGlass, we are lighting up entertainment across your phone, tablet, PC and TV in a completely new way. If you love to play games, watch TV and movies, surf the Web, or listen to music, there has never been a better time to be on Xbox.”
SmartGlass demonstrations included controlling and viewing stats for games, DVD-style extras for films like cast and crew biographies.
Streaming films and TV shows can be started on a tablet or PC and finished on your TV screen via the Xbox, or vice-versa.
One of the most impressive demos was a live map of Westeros from the TV series Game of Thrones, which followed the characters on screen and gave extra information about people and places around them.
Xbox Music also lays down a direct challenge to iTunes and Spotify with a subscription to a huge music library running across multiple devices.
Internet Explorer gets a new look on the Xbox 360 also, using the ‘squares’ interface for big screen browsing, with control via tablets and phones using SmartGlass, and voice via Kinect. You’ll need an Xbox Live Gold subscription to surf the internet on your Xbox 360.
There’s also a big push for more streaming music and video partners on the Xbox, at least in the USA, where both NBA, NHL and and expanded ESPN sports line-up are coming to the console.
Most of the major TV and film-streaming providers are already signed up to Xbox 360 in the UK, so Microsoft’s only significant new arrival is Picturebox, the Universal Studios film channel.
The other new UK arrivals will be short-form internet video sites such as BreakMedia, GameSpot TV, Machinima, Revision3 and the AOL On Network, plus Absolute Radio and the Napster music streaming service.
It’s SmartGlass and Xbox Music that both stand out, although amongst the razzamatazz, there were no launch dates for the new features.