I was having a hard time remembering whether or not Smart Glass is cool, because I feel like I haven’t been primed on the application since Microsoft’s E3 conference -- I’ve already forgotten most of the neat uses it was promised to have. Given how invested in the concept Microsoft seemed at the conference, I figured it’d be more prominently touted and already a part of the Xbox experience. After all, the company is getting better and better at pushing things that are not games on its platform.
During a Harmonix event last week, I was able to see how Smart Glass functionality works in concert with Dance Central 3 and was surprised to find it’s actually a useful augmentation to the embarrassingly fun Kinect savior.
Dance Central 3’s Smart Glass companion app can be used to usurp the Kinect for a host of functions. Most notably, it can be used, even while people are dancing, to queue up new songs to play. Playing these sorts of games in a busy, party-style environment is always a bit of a drag when you hit that lull between songs and the next person up is scrolling through every single title to find what they want to play, so this is a rather nice way to circumvent all of that.
Those stationed in front of the TV screen will see the next queued up song on and have the ability to play it or skip to the next track, so if a nefarious rabble-rouser decides to queue up twenty “Macarenas,” you’re not obligated to play through them all before finding where they hid the phone or tablet. Unless you want to. I hope it’s stuck in your head now.
Organizing playlists is the main draw, since it keeps people dancing and away from having to try and navigate the Kinect menus (particularly as nights wear on and that becomes more of a challenge in and of itself), but there are a few other functions the app can provide. You can alter certain gameplay parameters with it, choosing whether to play full or abridged versions of selected tracks.
Additionally, you can scroll through songs available for purchase and place them in your cart before buying them through the 360, as well as check out your progress on challenges, view leaderboards, and connect with Facebook to view and share the pictures the Kinect occasionally takes of you making a fool of yourself. You can also manage fitness goals, setting how many you are aiming to burn in a given stretch of time.
The free app works with existing Windows tablets and phones, formatting itself a bit differently on either, but effectively functioning the same. If you’re planning to play Dance Central 3 in the party-style environment it’s so good for, or even if you want to make playlist for yourself to keep your boogie flowing smoothly, this Smart Glass app has its uses.