Xbox SmartGlass pictures and hands-on

Let's clear something up here, Xbox SmartGlass is an app and it'll be available for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android devices, as well as Microsoft's own Windows 8 and Windows Phone operating systems. It is designed to convert your existing gadgetry into a companion screen, and as such may just blow Wii U out of the water.

The idea is simple. Download the app, hook it up to your Xbox Live account and away you go. It talks to your Xbox 360 and helps to control entertainment and interacts with games that have purposely been adapted to be compatible.

On the movie and TV side, the app provides a second-screen experience. The first example Pocket-lint was treated to in a behind-closed-doors showcase was with Game of Thrones. An episode of the superb series ran on the TV while the application, shown on a non-distinguishable tablet, synchronised with what was happening on screen.

In our demo, this was best illustrated with the opening credits, where each location in Westeros is hovered over. As the show moved around the map, a more detailed version on the tablet pulled up extra content.

We also saw a scene-by-scene guide, which allowed you to directly control which part of the TV show you wanted to see - effectively turning the device into a fancy remote control.

It was a feature also shown with movie watching. Linking with School of Rock, the SmartGlass app could leap to any section chosen, and when certain scenes were playing it knew whereabouts in the movie we were so would pull up an entire cast list, just for that scene.

These are just a couple of the features demonstrated, and yes, it does sound a bit like what movie studios are doing independently using BD Live on Blu-ray decks. However, it's when it comes to games that things get more interesting.

Linking a smartphone up to Ascend: New Gods, the new game by Toy Soldiers developer Signal Studios, allows you to have a constantly updated map of your surroundings - essential for a dungeon crawler or such like. We also saw details on characters and enemies in the game, making the second screen an important part of the experience.

The app was also shown working with a forthcoming unnamed karaoke game, where you can choose the next song independently of the game itself. It will also be a feature in Dance Central 3 when that's released later this year.

Perhaps more excitingly though, it has been heavily suggested that Xbox SmartGlass will be compatible with EA's Madden 13, with the ability to use a tablet or smartphone as a playbook. And as you can hook up to four SmartGlass-enabled devices to one Xbox 360, it means you can have a two or more player game where none of you gets to see your opponents' plays until they are enacted on screen.

Indeed, there is plenty of potential in Xbox SmartGlass, and it's up to developers, studios and TV companies to explore what that might be. For example, we were told that you will be able to watch a show or film on a TV and then just swipe it over to a tablet device to continue in another room, or vice versa. You can also save where you are on one device and continue on another at a later date - like Netflix but on a wider scale.

We feel like we've only just seen the tip of a much welcome iceberg here.

What do you think of Xbox SmartGlass? Would you use a second screen while gaming? Let us know in the comments below...