In a SmartGlass session at Build Day 3, Rosa Thomas, Principal Program Manager of SmartGlass Platform Experience at Microsoft, talked about the difference between what was possible in SmartScreen application with the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One. There was some brand new things come out of the session that to-date I believe haven’t been public.
The first is that SmartGlass apps on Xbox One can control background tasks, the first apps to do this will be Xbox Music and Xbox Video. This means that while playing a game, you could use your SmartGlass app to control your playlist in Xbox Music, all while never leaving your game.
The second is the announcement that all games will have to support ‘Xbox Help’ context-sensitive commands. Not only that but the voice command can be given to the Smart Glass app and then execute the command on the Xbox One.
The next is that you will be able to use the SmartGlass app for Windows 8.1 to adjust your home screen layout and when you get home and fire up the Xbox, you’re new layout will be ready and waiting. While one of the original visions for SmartGlass was to make text input easier, this just made customising your Xbox seriously easy.
Another change coming is increase in number of simultaneous connections from 4 on the Xbox 360 to 16 on the Xbox One. Not sure why you’d need 16, I guess for a massive 4K LAN party where every player had their own companion tablet
Now for the biggest news from the session.. As we know from Microsoft’s keynote wink wink, nudge nudge about development on the platform, I stayed for Q&A at the end of the session and afterwards to ask additional questions and glad I did. I asked why Microsoft is pitching every developer on the planet to write for their platforms, but when it comes to Xbox, it’s a closed shop for partners only.
Thomas responded that there were security protections required in the Xbox 360 generation that demanded the close partner relationship with Microsoft. Naturally that left the door open for a change to policy as we move to Xbox One and a new platform (that is more secure and apps run sandboxed).
Next I asked when that change may be made, expecting a standard ‘no comment’, I was surprised to be met with a confirmation that it’ll be after the console launches and likely into 2014. There is no doubt anymore, Microsoft are opening the Xbox One up to developers but we just have to wait for now.
As a developer this is huge, I can’t wait to write apps for the TV (via the Xbox One) I just hope the competition doesn’t beat them to it. On a side note, Microsoft also announced they have had 17 Million+ app downloads of SmartGlass across all platforms, Windows 8, WP8, Android and iOS.
When the time comes, you can get more information at http://dev.xbox.com.