The rumors were true: Microsoft has just announced Xbox SmartGlass, an app for Windows 8, tablets, and mobile devices that lets users view and interact with new content in association with games and video on their console. On the surface, the app serves as a remote control, allowing users to control what is playing back on their Xbox 360, as well as letting them start video content on one SmartGlass device, and seamlessly pick it up on another. The standout feature, however, is how SmartGlass will serve as a secondary screen, providing additional content related to whatever video or game is playing on the 360 (no doubt dampening Nintendo's hopes for the Wii U). Game of Thrones was demonstrated as an example, with the SmartGlass app displaying an interactive map of Westeros, pinpointing where the action in a given scene was taking place. Developers will also be able to use it in association with games; a Madden title was shown off, letting users draw hot routes on a Windows 8 tablet's touchscreen, with a Halo 4 concept allowing players to view their stats, get notified of different waypoints, and initiate multiplayer gaming sessions from the app.
Perhaps best of all, Microsoft plans to make SmartGlass available on as many platforms as possible — including Windows 8 computers, of course — as well as on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices. The enhanced video experience will be available for all versions of the app, though it will apply only to Xbox Live content. The extended game functionality, however, was specifically noted as being for Windows 8 tablets and Windows Phone devices. SmartGlass will be available later this year, but we'll be trying to get our hands on it this week to give you our impressions.
Update: We reached out to Microsoft for clarification on whether SmartGlass game integration would be part of the iOS and Android apps as well, and were told that it would be a feature in all versions. However, it's important to note that Microsoft does caution that "available Xbox SmartGlass features may vary by device."