Xbox SmartGlass app turns your iOS device into a remote control

Xbox SmartGlass app turns your iOS device into a remote control

If you have an Xbox 360 and an iOS device, congratulations, Microsoft has offered you a free touchscreen remote control! Well, not literally, but the new Xbox SmartGlass app turns your iPad or iPhone into a do-it-all control center for your game console, and it's actually a pretty slick experience.

Once you've connected your SmartGlass app to your console -- by syncing the devices via the Internet using a short code -- you can do pretty much everything using your iOS device that you would normally do with your controller, aside from playing games. You can compose messages, browse your achievements and launch apps such as Netflix with just a tap.

But the most useful feature is linked with the recent addition of Internet Explorer to the Xbox dashboard. Using your phone as a virtual mouse, you can navigate web pages by moving your finger around on the screen. It works quite well and happens to be much more enjoyable than surfing your favorite sites using the Xbox controller.

Unfortunately, since the app is connected to your Xbox over the Internet rather than using Bluetooth there is a noticeable lag between your input and the on-screen action. It's not a dramatic delay, but it's enough that you might end up overshooting a tab you were aiming for or scrolling further on a web page than you would have liked.

There's also no way to turn on your console using the SmartGlass app, so if you're on the couch and want to browse the web on your TV, you're going to have to grab your controller anyway. This is perhaps the app's greatest weakness, since it's hard to argue that it's a good alternative to using your controller for non-gaming tasks when it can't even turn the console on. Still, it's a neat, free way to try out SmartGlass using your iPhone or iPad, and it elevates the Internet Explorer Xbox app to the realm of usability.