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Microsoft's SmartGlass For Android Reviewed 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has released their much anticipated SmartGlass application for Android, allowing the Linux-based mobile OS to act as an input device for their Xbox 360 game console. While the app has its share of annoying problems, it does offer a glimpse into a possible future where consumer electronics are no longer crippled by the artificial barriers of manufacturer or operating system."
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Microsoft's SmartGlass For Android Reviewed

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  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @05:00PM (#41799013) Homepage Journal
    the Wii U tablet-based controller?
    • Well, they Wii U hasn't been released yet so a pre-sponse?

    • by bondsbw (888959)

      Not just a response. A major revamp of a system that has barely made it to market.

      Seriously, why did Nintendo announce the Wii U so early? Microsoft almost beat them to market with their own idea.

      • by tepples (727027) <tepples@gmaiBLUEl.com minus berry> on Sunday October 28, 2012 @06:28PM (#41799569) Homepage Journal

        Seriously, why did Nintendo announce the Wii U so early?

        It's called defensive publication [wikipedia.org]. For any feature Nintendo announces, someone else can't get a patent.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 28, 2012 @07:23PM (#41799857)

        Well I can tell you for a fact that MS not only intended, but relished stealing Nintendo's thunder on this one.

        I was talking to an MS employee working on the project (while still secret, but I guess my NDA is expired now) and he said they had actually planned their 2012 E3 keynote to introduce it the day before Nintendo's keynote formally announcing the Wii U. The basic pitch was "why go buy an expensive proprietary controller that does one thing when you can use any smartphone or tablet from any manufacturer?"

      • by edwdig (47888)

        Because 3rd party developers with early dev kit access were leaking details to the press. They thought it was better to announce it on their own terms than to have all the details leak out that way.

      • by Billlagr (931034) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @11:06PM (#41800937)
        I'm not sure it will make a lot of difference to be honest. The Wii-U has the touchscreen controller, shipped with every Wii-U. It is a consistent, core component that publishers know will be present and can reliably build functionality for, whereas this is a kind of add-on that publishers can't count on being present, or even consistent. Different screen resolutions, depends on network availability, which may or may ot introduce some lag or delay. I can't really see it being anything more than a short lived novelty
  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @05:05PM (#41799047)
    Releasing it to Android before Windows Phone
  • DRM will continue to cripple and kill off (minidisk, DAT) our technology for a very long time.

  • by vlm (69642)

    glimpse into a possible future where consumer electronics are no longer crippled by the artificial barriers of manufacturer or operating system.

    Does it deal with rooted phones intelligently by assuming the device is malicious or does it deal with rooted phones stupidly by assuming the device is perfectly trustworthy?

    I don't have a xbox 360 so it doesn't matter for me, but if I did I'd probably have the sniffer up and sniffin already. Unless it uses bluetooth somehow instead of wifi. of course there are sniffers for BT but it takes some specialized hardware.

    • Um, it doesn't use Bluetooth at all. Smartglass does use Wifi. You'd have known that if you went to doublecheck the permissions the app is asking for. Not to mention the 360 doesn't have Bluetooth in any of its various configurations.
    • by skandalfo (623756)

      If you have rooted the device, you can intercept any communications through any of the operating system provided services, either by using the monitoring facilities it provides or by modifying it. You don't need to sniff the packets 'on air', and thus you can pick the traffic for bluetooth too.

      If you are worried that sensitive data is transmitted over a network link... uhm... then the software should be encrypting the data.

      I don't get what's your worry, anyway, other than people reverse-engineering Microsof

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      I'm not sure what you're on abut. Android was designed to be rooted. It can also tell applications that it's not.

    • Does it deal with rooted phones intelligently by assuming the device is malicious or does it deal with rooted phones stupidly by assuming the device is perfectly trustworthy?

      Perhaps it deals with all phones the same way: As clients, with strict checking of data integrity and verification. Client side security is an oxymoron.

      • Client side security is an oxymoron.

        So how should people who understand this fact go about convincing Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal, and Warner Bros. of this?

        • by causality (777677)

          Client side security is an oxymoron.

          So how should people who understand this fact go about convincing Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal, and Warner Bros. of this?

          Their ignorance is our bliss.

          Technologically unsound DRM and largely unenforcable draconian copyright laws means that their efforts WILL fail. How stubborn and thick-headed they are will determine how many tens of millions of dollars (that could have enriched their shareholders) they will waste on programmers and lobbyists before they are forced to admit it.

          What we really need is a movement among shareholders. Let them start seeing every dollar spent on DRM and lobbying for more copyright as managem

    • by adolf (21054)

      Works fine on my rooted Droid 4 with a custom ROM.

      Dunno WTF it's useful for, yet (if anything) but it doesn't complain about anything.

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        Just tried it out. One thing it is useful for is making the silly "Metro" interface more usable.

    • by cynyr (703126)

      How would a rooted phone be an issue at all? As far as I can tell from TFS this is a controller only, it's not like you would be able to add "points" or anything like that to your account via it.

  • That they decide to release an Android application first. I guess at some point you have to write for the most important OSs or relegate yourself to niche markets.
    • by Ferzerp (83619) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @05:21PM (#41799147)

      Smartglass is available for both WP7 and WinRT, but hey, don't let reality interfere with your fantasy world.

    • by Locutus (9039)
      they didn't release to PalmOS but eventually bought the market by paying companies to ship WindowsCE based PDAs. This is really out of character for Microsoft but then again, they have tried how many times with a Windows Phone and a Windows Tablet and failed? Apple's design and costs are going to be tough for Microsoft to break into and Android's utilitarian capabilities and existing market share also very tough to break into.

      But you know, Microsoft once supported running Windows apps on UNIX until NT gaine
  • by Zigurd (3528) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @05:28PM (#41799187) Homepage

    Not compatible with ASUS T-300 running Jelly Bean. :-(

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Just sideload it, worked for my nexus 7.

      http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1957648&page=4

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Non-rooted Nexus 7 here. Google play says "Your device isnt compatible with this version".

    • by Xest (935314)

      Microsoft are artificially preventing their XBox apps working on Google's tablets, because they recognise that whilst Android phones are now far and away the most prominent smartphone platform on the planet and hence unavoidable in terms of support, that's not such the case in the tablet world where Microsoft still think they have a chance with WinRT.

      In other words they think that by blocking it on the Nexus 7's default setup it'll give users more reason to buy a Windows tablet, than an Android tablet whils

  • Not bluetooth (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dan East (318230) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @05:33PM (#41799209) Homepage Journal

    I first assumed this app would connect directly to my XBox via Bluetooth, and act as an actual controller device. It doesn't. Instead it requires internet connectivity on both the XBox and phone, and goes through the XBox Live servers (you have to sign into your XBox account on your phone, and also be logged into that XBox account on the XBox itself, before it can connect). I don't feel like messing around watching network traffic today, but I'm curious if XBox Live hands my phone over directly to the XBox (they find one another on my local network), or if all communication has to go through the XBox Live servers. There is a bit of latency, so I bet all communication is going out over the internet even though the devices are only 5 feet apart and both on the same LAN.

    I found the gestures a bit clunky. For example, you have to touch-hold while dragging to drag faster. However there isn't any method (that I could find) to go through a whole page at a time in the XBox menus. I had to go item by item. I think I would prefer a simple D-Pad type setup on my phone, with dedicated buttons to scroll entire pages / screens at a time.

    • by vux984 (928602) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @06:13PM (#41799461)

      I first assumed this app would connect directly to my XBox via Bluetooth

      That'd be pretty slick given your xbox doesn't have any bluetooth support.

    • Re:Not bluetooth (Score:4, Informative)

      by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @06:13PM (#41799463)

      I first assumed this app would connect directly to my XBox via Bluetooth, and act as an actual controller device. It doesn't. Instead it requires internet connectivity on both the XBox and phone, and goes through the XBox Live servers (you have to sign into your XBox account on your phone, and also be logged into that XBox account on the XBox itself, before it can connect). I don't feel like messing around watching network traffic today, but I'm curious if XBox Live hands my phone over directly to the XBox (they find one another on my local network), or if all communication has to go through the XBox Live servers. There is a bit of latency, so I bet all communication is going out over the internet even though the devices are only 5 feet apart and both on the same LAN.

      I found the gestures a bit clunky. For example, you have to touch-hold while dragging to drag faster. However there isn't any method (that I could find) to go through a whole page at a time in the XBox menus. I had to go item by item. I think I would prefer a simple D-Pad type setup on my phone, with dedicated buttons to scroll entire pages / screens at a time.

      For reference, 360 controllers don't use bluetooth.

    • Xbox live is used for pairing. The actual interface is then negotiated over the LAN.

      Or at least that's my understanding since I first connected over my phone's 3G connection (I had wifi turned off) and it gave me a notice saying something to the effect of "Please connect from the same network for better performance."

    • by dbIII (701233)
      That would suck immensely if there's not XBox Live servers on your continent. They haven't done a Blizzard and located just about everything on the US west coast have they?
  • by galoise (977950) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @05:39PM (#41799251)
    Does anybody know if there's a similar thing for Linux? I've been looking for something that would allow the pen-digitizer in my thinkpad tablet work as input for my linux box, but so far have failed at finding anything in that vein.
  • 'The app has its share of annoying problems'...
     
    ...and I'm _sure_ they didn't do it on purpose!

  • Perhaps it's limited to phones at the moment? Surprised to see the Android version beat iOS considering MS has supported iOS much more in the past.
    • by rwise2112 (648849)

      Perhaps it's limited to phones at the moment? Surprised to see the Android version beat iOS considering MS has supported iOS much more in the past.

      Indeed, TFA states that. I know - I'm so ashamed I actually read TFA.

  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday October 28, 2012 @07:42PM (#41799995) Homepage Journal

    Bear with me why I provide a little background to the question in the subject:

    I worked for IBM for better than a decade, from the late 90s to just a couple of years ago. During that time, the general sentiment inside of IBM was that trying to lock customers in was a bad idea, that in the long term what was good for business was open, cross-platform widely-compatible solutions. That's not to say that none of IBM's product divisions ever tried to lock customers in, but it was the exception, and a fairly rare exception, and most of the rest of the company thought they were being stupid.

    Obviously, the IBM I worked for was radically different in that respect from the IBM of the 60s, 70s and early 80s, when interoperability was a dirty word and IBM was able to gouge customers for obscene profits by locking them into "pure Blue" solutions. The anti-trust lawsuit and resulting consent decree was the start of the transformation, but the bigger force, IMO, was the fact that customers started distrusting IBM. In the late 90s when I started working for IBM Global Services, it was fairly standard practice in the consulting arm to actively *avoid* recommending IBM products unless they were clearly and undeniably the best solution available. A few years later practice shifted to pushing "blue" solutions more... but by then all of the solutions themselves had become not only interoperability-enabled, but most of them were entirely about interoperability, as IBM made the shift to a middleware and services company.

    The fact is that open architectures and interoperable solutions really are better business in the long run. In the short term, lock-in allows the extraction of monopoly rents, but you don't build strong customer relationships that way, and good relations with your customers is how you continue raking in the bucks year after year, decade after decade. This is especially true for companies like IBM whose primary clients are businesses, but it's also true for companies that straddle the business and consumer markets, like Microsoft.

    A number of things that have happened over the last few years make me think that Microsoft, even though they didn't get slapped around by the government the way IBM did, and really haven't ever gone through the sort of bloodletting that IBM did, has begun to turn the corner, to lose its institutional arrogance and its startup mentality of total domination at all costs, and matured into a company that understands you don't have to win everything to be successful, and that cooperation is sometimes more effective than competition.

    I'd have said they'd never make that change while Ballmer is in charge, but maybe I was too pessimistic.

    I'll reserve judgment for a few more years and see where they go. But I'm beginning to have hope that a new, less-evil Microsoft is emerging. They may need another serious failure or three to get all the way there, though. A major Windows 8 flop would probably be good for therm (culturally).

    • by swillden (191260)

      Bear with me why I provide

      Oh, that's annoying. s/why/while/

      Damn fingers.

    • by TrueSpeed (576528)

      I'll believe this when I see them do something on Android that's not in their financial interest. As I've already said, this application is nothing but a tool to pump their services and products and little to do with embracing Android.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        That's about as stupid as saying, "I don't believe anyone likes iPhone until I see people buy 10-15 just to throw them out and show their support to Apple. Otherwise they are just buying them to fill a need and desire for a phone and entertainment device. Greedy ass consumers."

      • by swillden (191260)

        I'll believe this when I see them do something on Android that's not in their financial interest. As I've already said, this application is nothing but a tool to pump their services and products and little to do with embracing Android.

        Oh, I don't expect them to "embrace" Android. But being willing to interoperate is significant. If this were the only example, I'd dismiss it, but it's not. The pattern, of late, seems to indicate the sort of maturation that I described. Maybe it's just temporary, but I see some reason to be hopeful.

    • by Xest (935314)

      No because they've intentionally crippled apps like this from working on Android tablets where they work just fine if you bypass the incompatibility "test" they've used.

      They only support it on phones because they recognise that ignoring the smartphone platform with near 70% marketshare is simply suicide for the product.

      If this just worked on Nexus 7 tablets etc. out the box, which there's no reason it shouldn't, then I'd agree with you, but whilst they're still intentionally crippling it on one of the most

      • by swillden (191260)
        Good point!
      • It didn't work on my Motorola Atrix phone. Google play says "Your device isn't compatible with this version. I'm going to try side-loading it tonight as others have successfully done.
      • They only support it on phones because they recognise that ignoring the smartphone platform with near 70% marketshare is simply suicide for the product.

        The product in this case is Xbox (since the app in question is just a free add-on to that). I think that "suicide" is an overstatement, to put it mildly.

  • Is there some way we can get the Google TV UI on an Android tablet? The entire GUI, not just the Google TV Remote Android app. How about more than just the UI, and actually stream TV from the Google TV box to the Android tablet.

  • Looks like they can't even adhere to Android UI guidelines because they essentially used their Windows Phone UI on an Android app instead of using Holo. Not very professional from a standards point of view.

    Also, the article seems to be surprised that Microsoft made this application available for Android - which is very bizarre. Like SkyDrive, Microsoft needs to get this on as many platforms as possible so that they can make their services and products attractive to everyone. This has little to do with embra

  • Android uses Linux as its kernel but I wouldn't say it was Linux based. It's userland is java based. They could easily use another kernel if they so wished.

  • Well, it is a microsoft app after all.
  • Microsoft, making software for linux
  • One is running Icecream sandwich tablet and the other gingerbread phone. Neither are more than a year ago. So much for "no longer crippled by the artificial barriers of manufacturer or operating system". They clearly picked a limited set of devices.

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