Microsoft confirmed it is releasing Xbox SmartGlass tomorrow, a significant move into creating a complete ecosystem for games, music, TV and movies. It’s an ambitious platform designed to connect, synchronize and enrich content across compatible phones, tablets, PCs, Xbox 360s and the Xbox Live service.

Xbox SmartGlass starts as a free downloadable app that turns devices into smart second screens for Xbox Live content. Rather than be limited to Microsoft products, it works with up to four devices running Apple’s iOS and devices running Android devices in addition to Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets and PCs, and Windows Phone 8.

Conceptually, it’s “the next step in our journey to transform Xbox 360 from a games console to an all-in-one entertainment system,” according to Yusuf Mehdi, Chief Marketing Officer for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Division.

He added that Xbox Live subscribers now spend more time with content from its 62 entertainment partners than with multiplayer games, even though the number of multiplayer gamers continues to grow.

As a taste of what Microsoft has in mind as the platform matures, it disclosed that HBO Go has created a full interactive SmartGlass companion for Game of Thrones. It syncs with the program and features cloud-enabled content like a map of the program’s Westeros location that follows along with the action in real time.

“In the future, new games will be created, TV shows and movies will be re-imagined, and sports will be broadcast from the ground up with Xbox SmartGlass in mind,” Mehdi said.

Microsoft said Xbox SmartGlass initially will have a set core features. To quote the press materials:

  • Use your tablet, PC, or phone to control the movies, TV shows, music, Internet, and games you experience on your Xbox 360 console.
  • Quickly jump to recent console activities with the simple tap of your finger.
  • Effortlessly move your purchased movies and TV shows between your tablet or PC and your Xbox 360.
  • Use your tablet, PC, or phone to navigate your Xbox LIVE with simple swipe and tap gestures.
  • Lose the keyboard and mouse and explore the Web on your TV using your device to easily navigate.
  • Use your device to enhance your entertainment experiences with rich, immersive extensions of your media or games.

Related links:

Microsoft blog – Introducing the new entertainment experience from Xbox

Xbox Smartglass –

Major Nelson’s blog – New Xbox entertainment experiences launching this week across your favorite devices

Gizmodo – Xbox SmartGlass Hands On: Controlling Your Xbox Is Really Awesome Now

Seattle Times – Microsoft launching Xbox SmartGlass

MediaPost – Microsoft To Launch Xbox SmartGlass App, Aims Cross-Platform