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Taking Advantage of Smart Glass with Xbox One

Smart Glass is an app that allows smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices to act as an Xbox One companion. In doing so, the device acts as a second screen for Xbox. The actual functionality depends on how the Xbox is being used, but Smart Glass might provide Kinect voice commands for the game that you are playing, trivia, and facts about the movie that you are watching. This article explains how Smart Glass can be used with the Xbox One.
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One of the most underrated and most easily overlooked utilities for Xbox One is the Smart Glass app. Smart Glass allows gamers to use their PC, tablet, or even smartphone as a second screen, thereby enhancing the Xbox experience. This article shows you how to take advantage of Smart Glass for Xbox One.

If you are currently using Xbox 360 and would like to know more about using Smart Glass, then I encourage you to check out my book “My Windows Phone 8.” There is an entire section that covers using Smart Glass on Windows Phone 8 devices.

Supported Devices

Although the Xbox One is capable of running various apps, the Smart Glass app does not run on the Xbox One console. Instead, it runs on the device that will act as the second screen. Supported devices include:

  • Windows Phone 8 devices
  • Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets
  • Windows 8 PCs
  • iPod Touch (4th and 5th generation)
  • iPhone (3GS, 4S, 5, 5C, and 5S)
  • iPad (2, 3, 4, and air)
  • iPad Mini (generation 1 and 2)
  • Android (4.x and higher, tablets require at least a seven inch screen)

Installing Smart Glass

The procedure for installing the Xbox Smart Glass app varies depending on the type of device that you are using. Generally speaking, the Smart Glass app is installed in the same way that you would install any other app. For example, if you wanted to install the Smart Glass app on a Windows 8 PC or on a Windows RT tablet, you would simply log into the device, open the Windows Store, search for and install the app.

In order to work correctly, the Smart Glass app does have to be connected to your Microsoft account. The interesting thing about this however, is that Smart Glass appears to work even when a different account is actively being used on the Xbox One console.

To give you a more concrete example, my wife and I both have profiles on our Xbox One console. Last night, my wife was playing Need for Speed Rivals while I was working on something on my Surface RT tablet. Out of curiosity, I opened the Smart Glass app. Even though it was my wife who was logged into the Xbox One console, a message saying “Hello Brien” popped up at the bottom of the screen (without disrupting the game) as soon as I opened the Smart Glass app. In other words, the Xbox One console was smart enough to realize that I have a profile on the console even though I was not the one who was actively logged into the console.

Incidentally, this behavior can be changed.  From the Home screen, click on Settings. When the Settings screen appears, go to Preferences. The Preferences screen allows you to choose which (if any) Smart Glass connections will be allowed. For instance, you can choose to accept Smart Glass connections only from profiles signed into the console.

Another thing that I noticed right away was that Smart Glass for Xbox One is a lot more responsive than the Xbox 360 version was. The Xbox 360 version of the Smart Glass communicates with a remote datacenter, which relays a signal to the Xbox console. In contrast, the Xbox One version of Smart Glass communicates directly with the Xbox One console without the need to relay the signal through a remote datacenter.

Using Smart Glass with Your Xbox One

Smart Glass has a variety of different uses. Its actual functionality is context sensitive, meaning that Smart Glass behaves differently depending on how you are currently using your Xbox One.

Home Screen Navigation

One of the most basic things that you can do with Smart Glass is navigate the Xbox One home screen. Smart Glass can display a set of controls that mimic those of an Xbox One controller. You can use these controls to navigate the Start screen, just as if you were using the controller. In case you are wondering, the Smart Glass controls cannot currently be used for playing games.

Browser Control

Xbox One includes Internet Explorer. The browser actually works surprisingly well, but entering long Web addresses through an Xbox controller can be a bit tedious. However, Smart Glass can augment the browsing experience by turning your mobile device into an on-screen keyboard. This makes browsing the Web or entering information into Web forms much easier.

Movies and Television

Although it does not work for every movie, Smart Glass provides timed synchronized content for some movies. For example, you might see facts about the movie or quotes from actors or from the director as you watch the movie.

The same basic concept also applies to television shows. HBO for example, provides Xbox Smart Glass enhancements for many of their shows.

Gaming and Offline Usage

When you are playing a game on your Xbox One console, Smart Glass displays the name of the game in its Now Playing section. Tapping on this game listing displays two options: Details and Help.

The actual content varies from game to game, but the Details option generally provides you with basic information about the game, links to game add-ons, and perhaps a few game related videos.

The Help section will normally show you what the controller buttons do within the game, as well as Kinect voice commands that you can use.

Another really cool thing about Xbox Smart Glass is that it lets you keep up with your friends even when you are away from the gaming console. The Smart Glass interface mimics the Xbox One home screen. As such, you can access your Xbox Live account from your mobile device, even when you aren’t playing Xbox.


The Xbox Smart Glass app is a handy add-on for Xbox One. While this app offers tremendous future potential, right now it is probably most useful for getting help with unfamiliar games. Don’t forget you can also use Smart Glass to pull up an on-screen keyboard to use with Internet Explorer.

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