SmartGlass makes Xbox gameplay a two-screen experience

SmartGlass, the new service for the Xbox 360, appears to steal a little thunder from the forthcoming Wii U. 

Microsoft reps today introduced a new Xbox 360 service called SmartGlass.

No, a new Xbox console is not inbound – not immediately, anyway.

But at a keynote address at E3 today, Microsoft engineers did introduce a new service called SmartGlass, which will allow users to control the on-TV action via a smartphone or tablet app. According to Reuters, SmartGlass will work with both TV shows and video games. A gamer playing Madden NFL, for instance, would be able to craft key strategy without giving away anything to his opponent. 

RELATED: 5 games to watch at E3 2012

And a viewer watching a TV show would be able to quickly access special information about the cast and crew. SmartGlass will reportedly work across a range of devices and mobile operating systems, including Windows 8, Android, and Apple's iOS. In a statement, Microsoft said SmartGlass should get a full roll-out by this fall. 

"Xbox is on a mission to make the entertainment that you love even more amazing," wrote Microsoft executive Don Mattrick. "With Xbox SmartGlass, we are lighting up entertainment across your phone, tablet, PC and TV in a completely new way. If you love to play games, watch TV and movies, surf the Web, or listen to music, there has never been a better time to be on Xbox."

The timing of the SmartGlass launch, of course, is not an accident. Later this year, Nintendo will almost certainly release the Wii U, its next generation console. Like SmartGlass, the Wii U which will ship with a touch-screen controller, opens a second portal onto the gaming experience, allowing users to toggle between the big screen and the small one. 

As Seth Schiesel of the New York Times notes, Microsoft also plans to double the amount of content available on the Xbox Live platform. The National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League have already signed up to provide additional programming, Microsoft says. 

In related news, the Xbox 360 is now the top-selling console in the world, beating out both the Sony PlayStation 3 and the aging Nintendo Wii. The sales figures are likely attributable to the success of the Kinect motion-sensing peripheral, TechCrunch notes

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

RELATED: 5 games to watch at E3 2012

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