Back in December of last year, Microsoft surprisingly released My Xbox LIVE, a companion app to its own Xbox 360 gaming console. The device mainly supported the console’s subscription service, Xbox LIVE, allowing you to view and manage things like your avatar and friends list.
In a recent update, the app received some pretty significant updates, introducing features to allow an Xbox to connect to an instance of My Xbox LIVE running on your iPad and consequently be able to control it. In this review, we’ll take a look at the app once more, especially the latest, console-controlling update.
The app runs right out of your Microsoft account, the same one you use for your Xbox LIVE account. Once signed in, the app will pull in your account information and will subsequently allow you to modify your account and connect to your Xbox.
The job that My Xbox LIVE has been doing from the very start is profile management, allowing you to edit your profile, avatar, friends list and messages all from within the app. It presents key details of your profile, like your Gamerscore and Gold status. You can also view all the games associated with your account and the achievements/Gamerscore you’ve earned from them.
Your avatar is a really nice part of the My Xbox LIVE and it’s presented, fully animated, in this companion app. You can edit your avatar easily too, including clothing and props that have been bought with Microsoft Points or earned as achievement items in games. Likewise, it’s really simple to find friends, respond to requests and manage existing relationships.
Connect to Xbox
The recent update brought a set of features that take My Xbox LIVE further than simply editing profile details. In fact, by signing in to Xbox LIVE on your console and enabling the companion app setting in the System > Console settings on the Xbox itself, you can connect the app as a remote control. Then, you can play movies, start games and launch apps, all from your iPad.
The quickplay section allows you to easily launch a game on your Xbox. That’s not a big deal because it’s an action that you can do with a traditional controller, a controller that you’ll need to play the game anyway. Where it’s especially useful is to launch video content.
Unfortunately, you can’t purchase new content from your iPad nor do everything that’s possible through Xbox.com. Hopefully those features get folded into the app in a future update.
You can also “discover” new content right from the app in the Home and Discover sections. The former shows featured content such as trailers of new games, special features and Gamer Spotlights, all of which can be loaded up and viewed in the app without needing to jump into the browser, as may be expected.
The Discover section features less topical or time-sensetitve features, but may still help you find new games, movies, TV shows and/or downloadable content.
Design and Interface
My Xbox LIVE is beautiful. Really, it’s absolutely gorgeous. Designed much like the Xbox itself, with Microsoft’s Windows 8-style UI (or Metro, as it used to be known) the app is one of the best looking apps on the iPad. It really encompasses the aesthetic qualities of Microsoft’s design language in addition to the animation and motion that contribute to a fluid experience, much like the Xbox itself.
Like other apps and products where the Windows 8-style UI is evident, My Xbox LIVE is a primarily typography-based app that means it looks fantastic on the new iPad’s Retina display.
Even thought it’s a great example of both UI and UX design on iOS, the app presents an instant resemblance to the Xbox dashboard utilising not only the same visual style but also the same set of sound effects. With few variants to the design over on your console, the companion app just feels “right.”
My Xbox LIVE is a nice, sleek companion to the Xbox and one all iPad owners should have in their arsenal. There’s still a few advancements that i’d like to see made and the usefulness of the remote features outside of video content are questionable, but it’s free, and is always good to have should a time come when you want it.
The app is also available for iPhone, and you can check our review from January of the mobile version should you fancy loading it up on your phone.