Microsoft took the stage to kick off E3 with a bang and showed off a slew of new feature upgrades to Xbox 360 and a lot of games for its gaming console. The software giant started the conference with an extended gameplay demo of the upcoming Halo 4 game, but after that it bombarded the press with a barrage of new feature upgrades for its game console. Also Read - E3 2021 Ubisoft Forward: Far Cry 6, Just Dance 2022, Watch Dogs: Legion Bloodline and more
Perhaps, the biggest news to come out of the press conference was the unveiling of a new music service called Xbox Music which will later hit Windows 8 and Windows Phone devices as well, in addition to the 360 itself. This is more of a rebranding of the Zune service rather than a total rehash, but we noticed a lot Metro influence in the UI like the music app on Windows 8 and also noticed that Microsoft had kept the Zune DJ feature. Microsoft has said that the service will have more than 30 million songs, but has not specified when the service would hit prime time. Also Read - Windows 11 Sun Valley teased officially with YouTube video ahead of June 24 reveal
Another notable feature added to the Xbox is called “Smart Glass.” In fact, it is a companion app for Windows Phone and Windows 8 devices, but also Microsoft is not restricting itself to its own ecosystem and is also creating Android and iOS variants of this app. The app will bring Air-Play like streaming capabilities to Xbox and Windows 8, letting users to stream content from ones tablet to a TV. Interestingly, once the stream is beamed on to another device, the second screen can deliver more data on the content being streamed and will update the mobile device as the content changes, much on the lines of Nintendo’s Wii U that was previewed yesterday. The app also acts as a peripheral or additional controller for games like Madden, something Microsoft showcased at the demo. Also Read - Windows 10 gets an expiry date: Know how long you can use it before Windows 11 is necessity
Another cool aspect of Smart Glass is that it can turn a mobile device into a pointing device or remote or trackpad for the Xbox giving it a new user interface. So for instance if one feels like pinching and zooming on something on the Xbox, one can just simple do that using the multi-touch display of ones mobile device and the change will be reflected on the larger screen in real time. This might be an intuitive way of controlling content on an HDTV, much more so than the current crop of smart remotes sold with HDTVs.
Microsoft has even announced a version of Internet Explorer for the Xbox 360 which will utilize Smart Glass, along with the Kinect gesture controls and voice commands. Major games including Fifa 13 and Madden, among others will use Kinect voice commands within the gameplay.
The Wii for sometime had been on the radars of fitness maniacs, well today Microsoft also had something for them on the Xbox. Redmond announced a partnership with apparel maker Nike for Nike+ Kinect training that would give the user real time feedback on technique over four weeks. For Windows Phone users it would also remind them of upcoming training sessions through an app.
Expanding on the capabilities of Bing, Microsoft announced that Bing Voice would be coming to the Xbox with ability to search for genre based searches like “Bing Comedy”. For non-English speakers, Microsoft has enhanced compatibility for twelve more languages, but unfortunately for us, Hindi is not among them.
Finally, Microsoft also announced content partnerships with 35 content providers including 24×7 ESPN, Machinima, Paramount, NBA and NHL. That said, we don’t expect these content features coming to India anytime soon.