Control Your Xbox with your Windows Phone Using the Xbox Companion App

Control Your Xbox with your Windows Phone Using the Xbox Companion App

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Earlier today you probably spotted the big, big news from our pals over on the Xbox team. They’re bringing a new world of entertainment to your living room and making it faster, funner (yes, that’s right, funner) and easier to find. If you haven’t seen it already, I highly recommend checking out the killer video that shows all of the new things that will be possible with an Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE and Kinect in your living room.

Watch that video closely and you’ll notice that around the 1 minute mark, the girl in the striped shirt pulls out a Windows Phone and starts to search for content that magically appears on her Xbox. What she’s using is the insanely awesome (but still not quite available) Xbox Companion App. The app, which will be completely free for Windows Phone users, is an amazing little tool that will let you Find, Learn more about and Control content from Xbox LIVE Marketplace on your Xbox 360.

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I was lucky enough to get my hands on a beta copy of the app to try out with my Xbox and I have to say that it’s really impressive. Here’s an actual scenario I ran through with the app and my Xbox the other day:

  • Finding Content: Just like on your Xbox, the Xbox Companion gives you instant access to the Xbox LIVE Marketplace catalog of games, movies, music and TV shows. I used it to search “Featured Content” and pulled up the X-Men: First Class.
  • Learn more about what you’re watching, listening to, or playing: Once I found the movie and touched the movie tile, the Xbox companion app took me to an info page that has all the related details about. And the content is really rich, too – for example, when I swiped to the “cast” page and touched an actor’s name, like star James McAvoy, I was taken to other movies starring him. From there, I could easily learn more about the other movies, their cast, etc. It’s an infinite road of interactive content.
  • Control & Play: Once I selected the content and hit play, the Xbox Companion flips into “controller mode” in which I could navigate my Xbox, or control video playback of your video. The best part here is that controls are virtually instantaneous – easily as fast as using my controller or a TV remote.

By now, you probably want to know more and find out when the Xbox Companion app will become available. Rest assured that it’s coming soon and that when it gets here, it’ll be a free download for Windows Phone customers. You can be sure that when it’s baked, I’ll be back with a full video review of the app.  

Have a Windows Phone or Windows PC question? Find me on Twitter, like me on Facebook, or Ask Ben Anything over email.

45 Comments
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  • Love everything except the name.. for god's sake change the name...when you have such a cool app, dont kill it off with a lame name....

  • When will Microsoft enable me to simply plug the Windows Phone into my Xbox so I can listen to music stored on it?  I can do that with an iPhone and Android.

  • Is this application available for INDIA users???

    Iam from INDIA could not find it on the market palce...:(

  • riseagn
    28 Posts

    this is awesome news

    how about extend this app to control zune media player and media  center :D

  • tsrblke
    327 Posts

    @Tony Dedrick

    On the Kinect, I certainly understand your point. My wife wasn't interested in getting one until she saw the game that blew her away. We went to a friends house during our trip to PAX, she played fruit Ninja, Dance Central and Hole in the wall to the point that 3 weeks later we bought a new Kinect Bundle (we needed extra drive space on the 360 anyway, so a bundle just made sense).

    On the surface it seems like Kinect games aren't that great, but once you start playing their fun as hell.  But that's just my opinion (the coming "Better with Kinect" features for coming on future games like ME3 are just icing on the cake.)

  • Definitely interested in the controller aspect. I'm assuming this can be used for Netflix. So it will be nice to not use the standard 360 controllers I'm always hitting FF and Rewind by accident.

    As for the whole Kinect debate, I don't own one and probably won't until I see a game made for it that blows me away.  i know the upcoming dashboard update will be optimized for Kinect use and it looks neat. Just not enough for me to plunk down for one.

  • KR
    503 Posts

    Loving the Zune pass free trial.

  • @ Benjamin S ... That's why you should get a WPD. You won't have to pay for the app, it's most likely going to be free.

  • Awesome news, but I don't own a W7 phone.  My work provides me a phone (BlackBerry) so I don't bother with a second.  I could convince them to give me an Android however.  Either platform, I'd be willing to pay for the app (say - up to $5?) to be able to have the functionality.

    Wonderful news guys - don't forget the rest of us.

  • Nater
    147 Posts

    Quote: "Completely random question but when will we see calendar search on the Windows Phone? Also, how about duplicate calendar notifications getting fixed as when I dismiss on my phone/outlook it should dismiss the other way as well...Just curious!"

    Your notification gripe makes no sense.  That's the way it works, and that's the way it should work.  You get a notification at each location.  It's not hard to click dismiss when you get back to your computer, or on your other device.

    Calendar Search I agree that can be useful, but Microsoft doesn't seem to care about business users and that can be seen as a business feature.

    How about a decent notification system?  Toasts are borderline useless if you aren't at the phone.  Live Tiles give absolutely no context and every app doesn't support them.  There is no global Notification cache similar to WebOS, iOS5, Android, or the Windows System Tray.  They need to improve the Notification feature.  It makes the phone a PITA to use.

    Also, maybe Microsoft should upgrade their own Apps?  Facebook?  Last.FM?  etc.  Did they seriously think we valued an updated MSN Movies app over an updated Facebook App.

    And of course, the broken Message Hub/WLM/FB Chat functionality as displayed in the above video.

    I bought this phone thoroughly expecting to be disappointed, but this is borderlining on insult.

  • Nater
    147 Posts

    Can you fix Mango/WLM first?  This is useless compared to the broken IM functionality in WP7.

    www.youtube.com/watch

    Really, what kind of people work for Microsoft?

  • Completely random question but when will we see calendar search on the Windows Phone? Also, how about duplicate calendar notifications getting fixed as when I dismiss on my phone/outlook it should dismiss the other way as well...Just curious!

  • KR
    503 Posts

    @Rodney E,

    You've said it all man,completely agree

  • @ Kenny,

    You know our votes are being over looked because the users in foreign countries are lacking some basic support systems. They have jumped all over the forum and made it to where the people who do have the necessary support can't move on to the fun stuff. I feel that my vote to have the start screen run in landscape mode, for example, is being out shined by those wanting "Arabic support" or Zune services. I'm glad to see them get what that want, but what about US. It seems like the markets may be somewhat different, so why are we all using the same Forum?.It's to crowded in there guys, and a ni#$a can't get no air! Excuse that.

    Anyways,,,, the Idea is to keep the user experience constant, I know that know that, but Kenny, aren't you tired of hearing about issues that don't even effect us when we have our own set of needs and what's that we're trying to get addressed? With separate forums all they would have to do is combine the best of the best.

    Also, I just wanted to say that I'm glad to have our foreign friends here to help support WP, I just feel like my 10 votes didn't matter. Does anybody else agree?

  • @ Kenney....Yeah, they could name it "monkey mode"

  • cmwind
    71 Posts

    "Xbox Fuse" is something you could market... "Xbox Comapnion" is not. You have an Xbox experience on your phone and you have an Xbox experience on your console and this app is fusing those two experiences together. Xbox Fuse is even a brand that could be used as an AirPlay Competitor. MS Hardware (Mouse and Keyboard guys) could even create an MS equivalent to the AirPort Express (AirPort Express amongst other things allows you to turn any speaker with an auxillary input into an AirPlay device).

  • Saijo George

    BUT will it be available worldwide or only US ?

    ^^^^This

  • I wonder who started calling software development "baking"?

  • KR
    503 Posts

    @Rodney E,

    I also ran out of votes and was wondering on how to get some more,any idea?

    The feature I'll to suggest/vote for is portrait/landscape lock.its very important when manipulating the phone while laying down in bed or hanging upside down at times

  • qiziq
    23 Posts

    This is a bit tangential, but how cool would it be if we could name our Xbox?  I think that using Kinect to address our Xbox in a more personal manner would appeal to a lot of people.

  • I ran out of votes, so I will post my last next have feature here. The favorites section in IE9 is listed alphabetically, and I have tons of pages saved. I use alot of pages that start with the letter "W", and it takes forever to scroll down to the bottom of the list. I think you guys know what I'm getting at! The app menu and the people hub are also in alphabetical order and they have the quick jump blocks implemented into the list. Yes, I think the quick jump blocks, or whatever there're called, most definitely need to be added to the IE9 favorites tab.

    Does anybody else think so as well?

  • KR
    503 Posts

    I like the Xbox,but I went for a PS3 reason being the better graphics and bluray player,and also the free network play,so I'm wondering if there'll soon be a next generation Xbox (720) that will have amazing graphics and inbuilt blu ray?

    I'm an occasional gamer so I can forego the free network play(for sure I'll never pay for a XBL gold membership)

  • KR
    503 Posts

    Yeah,but I can't watch the video on my windows phone because it requires Silverlight plugins,either you go fully html 5 or just don't do it.i'm sure more than 90% of the visitors on the Microsoft news website use an html 5,capable browser,so what's the point still using Silverlight plugins?

    Get your stuff together Microsoft.

  • Sheeds
    205 Posts

    Saijo,

    If that App doesn't get global release by MS there will be a riot on this here Blog! ;)

    Sheeds.

  • tsrblke
    327 Posts

    @Shteevie

    Sorry, you're right it was 8 million in the first 60 days and 10 million by Mid March (ish) 2011.  (from Wikipedia) Sorry I started to type someththe 8 million figure, changed my mind, got my wires crossed it happens.

    That doesn't really change my point though, which was "There are a fair number of Kinects.  But, there are a lot of people with Xbox's and no kinect." (if anything my it only enhances it)  Is this a Killer app for WP7?  No, of course not. Is it going to cause people to run out an buy a WP7 right now? Obviously not.  Is this something MS can further use to differentiate the Windows Phone from other phones? Of course.  Is there a usage case out there that cares? Probably. Until we see the actual app we won't know, but I'll guess yes.  Might this push some people off the fence? [Repeate previous answer here]

    I will say this. I know a fair number of people who have sound systems wired throughout there house.  Many of them currently use an iPhone/iPod touch to control their computer hooked into said sound system.  For people with Xboxes, this could be a choice they like (as opposed to the iphone/computer hook up.)

  • BUT will it be available worldwide or only US ?

  • Tomorrow I will go to the att corporate store here in Arlington, TX and ask about Mango and their opinions on the new phones. I hope they know what I'm talking about.

  • This is great! I can't wait to see the huge amount of advertising that's going to be done for this. At least I hope it's advertised on a large scale this time. Mango is out, the app will be out soon, but no commercials are out. I guess I should be patient.

  • My two favorite gadgets combined for the best overall media experience!  I can't wait.

  • riseagn
    28 Posts

    this Something Heavy and Decent app

    pretty awesome work love it

  • @jmcpeak -- My point exactly.  I want to control my HTPC anywhere in the world with my Windows Phone and I want to watch MY TV on MY phone.  However, I'll accept just watching my recordings on my phone. :)

  • jmcpeak
    1 Posts

    Awesome. Where's the app to control Media Center on Windows 7?

  • Features I'd like to see this app have... ability to turn on & off the xbox, or do a "standby" turn on (for downloads only), often i'm at work and queue up a download from Xbox.com, but the download only starts when I turn my xbox on. Would be nice to turn the xbox on via the Phone app (probably not possible otherwise they would have added the ability to do this from xbox.com when adding a download)

    Ability to rate apps, movies, games and post comments as well from the phone app.

  • @Tsrblke "10 million kinects we sold in the first month" - it was more like 2.5M. Still a lot, but your guess was a little off target.

    I'm having a hard time seeing a use case outside of changing the music I'm playing behind the game without using the blade menu to do it. And in that case, I already have the controller in my hand.

    Yeah, it's neat that these devices can talk to one another, but in this case, it doesn't seem to actually provide new functionality. In that sense, it's about as good as buying a second corkscrew.

  • Not that this has anything to do with what he has put... but the iPhone 4S has speach recognition... which adapts with the user...! Do some Windows phone team!

  • tsrblke
    327 Posts

    @Sven

    First it's an L not an i

    second (and perhaps more importantly). I'm not taking that bet, it's pretty damn obvious, 10 million kinects we sold in the first month.  But I think it's still less than 50% of Xbox (world wide) owners have Kinects, so it's in no way ubiquitous. There is still potentially a market of people who own windows phones but don't have kinects (for whatever reason).  This feature is cool for them.  And I'm glad they'll get something cool to use.  Heck I only picked up a Kinect 3 weeks ago, and only because my wife got to play with it at PAX and loved it.  Otherwise I'd be in the "WP7 owner/No kinect" category.

    As for other OS I wouldn't expect it, at all.  MS has an incentive to put things like "Bing" on other OSes, but no real incentive to Put Xbox stuff on there.  Bing needs eyeballs to generate ad revenue, Xbox doesn't really.  And since they're trying (in part) to drive WP7 as the only "Xbox Phone." it'd be cannibalistic to take this feature and port it.

  • I was actually just thinking about this the other day when I was watching Doctor Who (bought a season pass on zune since I don't get BBCHD). My exact words were "Ok, Mango is out and the new dash is coming soon. When are we getting a remote app?" It's like you guys read my mind. Keep up the good work.

  • Sven
    54 Posts

    tsrbike says (Also, I realize not every Xbox owner has a Kinect, so for those who don't this is really freaken cool).

    Bet there are more with Kinect than Windows Phone. Wonder when XBox Companion is going to show up for iOS, like Bing and OneNote, or Android, like Live for Android?

    Zune doesn't need to buy Netfix, I already get Netflix on my XBox and Windows Phone.

    Sorry if I sound bitter, but still irritated by the Apple Keynote yesterday where they announced the invention of a bunch of stuff that MS used to do, failed to market, and abandoned.

  • cmwind
    71 Posts

    For your consideration I think "Xbox Fuse" would be a better name for the app (you would be "fusing" the Xbox phone experience with the Xbox console experience).

    Also is more marketable

  • fatson
    1 Posts

    Love it! I can't wait to get rid of my cable boxes! I'm on Verizon FiOS and I can channel surf with my phone. Amazing! I'm all in win Microsoft! Floating on the cloud ...

  • tsrblke
    327 Posts

    I love the idea, but how much of this is going to redundent with some of the new Dashboard features?  (Admittedly it seems a lot easier to navigate than the Dash could ever be as far as moving from Content page, to actors page to page of actors movies, so that's really cool.)

    But as a remote...hmmmm.  Part of the appeal of the kinect is being able to ditch the remote.  My wife and I love that, so we're unlikely to pick a remote back up....UNLESS, it can also be used to control music, then it's back in play (so I can fiddle with my music from the next room, where the kinect can't hear me.

    Also Netflix, it needs to be able to control Netflix.  Sorry guys, $5 is just too much for me to rent a movie on Zune still, so I'll either Redbox (thus using my Bluray player) or Netflix.

    (Also, I realize not every Xbox owner has a Kinect, so for those who don't this is really freaken cool).

  • Zartan
    22 Posts

    Just about a month ago I was sitting in front of my Xbox 360 with my Windows Phone thinking, why can't I control my Xbox 360 with this?

  • arrow22
    50 Posts

    AMAZING STUFF!

    I think you'll win over a good number of XBOx fans to Windows Phone! Well done!

  • efjay
    14 Posts

    Now that's the kind of thing we need to see more of, WP7 front and center of everything MS does. Nice!

  • frankwick
    37 Posts

    Cool steps in the right direction, but I want next from the Xbox team:

    1.  Subscription channels.  I don't wan't another cable provider giving me 100 channels that I won't watch.

    2.  Zune needs to buy Netflix (not Qwikster) and let me stream movies and music to my Xbox, Windows Phone, and PC.