Microsoft is the owner of Mojang, developer of the ultra-popular Minecraft sandbox building game. And at the E3 video game conference, they want everyone to know it. In between the usual slew of console exclusives and hype about the future, the company dedicated a little time to Minecraft exclusively. At least some of the new additions for Minecraft were released immediately for the Android version, most notably access to Realms servers and cross-platform play with the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
The Xbox Smartglass app has been available on Android for a while, letting users control the Xbox's media functions, such as play, pause, and menu navigation, directly through the app. Today, at Microsoft's E3 press conference, the app is getting a big update, being renamed to just 'Xbox' and with features comparable to the equivalent on Windows 10. With the app, you can use Xbox Live, buy games, or watch game content shared by other users, making it the ultimate companion to the Microsoft-made box sitting near your TV.
Updated home – The Activity Feed is the home of the Xbox app
Added Trending content – Find out what's popular on Xbox Live
Facebook friend finder – Add your Facebook friends who are also on Xbox
Contact list friend finder – Use your phones contact list to add friends to Xbox Live
Real name sharing – Be able to share your real name with your friends
Game hubs – Game Hubs now added to Xbox app
Updated profiles – Redesigned user profiles in Xbox app
The banner features of the update are mostly to do with Xbox Live, Microsoft's online gaming network.
Microsoft's SmartGlass app is a smartphone-based manager for the Xbox One, and it gets some surprisingly frequent love from the developers for a product intended for a direct Google competitor. The latest beta version is a significant bump, 2.4 to 3.16, though the changes aren't immediately obvious beyond a few cosmetic adjustments. The new user interface moves quite a few elements around, and if it isn't completely "material" then at least Microsoft is trying to make it look like an Android app instead of a tiny Xbox window.
Oddworld is a series of games in a variety of genres, all united by the core element of... well, oddness. If you played Stranger's Wrath, the last Oddworld port to reach Android about a year ago, you know what I mean: that game was a third-person action title in which you shot tiny adorably creatures out of a double-barrel crossbow. Munch's Oddysee is an even older game, originally released on the Xbox (the one that isn't the One) back in 2001. It's a sequel to Abe's Oddysee and Abe's Exodus, it's the first in the series to offer true 3D gameplay, and now it's on Android.
Microsoft has a music app. No, really, they do! It may have escaped your notice with the launch of a new service from a certain other company and the continuing dominance of Spotify, but the Xbox Music service is still going strong. Sort of - apparently Microsoft didn't think that brand name was strong enough, so they changed it to Groove. That name hasn't made it to the official Android app, for some reason.
But some other much-needed changes have been implemented in version 3.0, specifically the ability to access your Microsoft account and stream music stored on your OneDrive cloud.
Do you like Halo? I mean really like Halo, like you've got a little light-up Cortana on your desk and you actually know the names of the various rainbow color versions of the Master Chief? Can you write me a 20-page essay on the leadup to and fallout from the battle of Reach? Then today is your lucky day, because Halo has come to Android... in the form of a video app with clips and guides and stuff. OK, so maybe not especially lucky.
Since Microsoft seems oblivious to the fact that no one really expects the next installment of Halo to blow anyone away, they've decided to try and push it as a cultural nexus analogous to Call of Duty or League of Legends.
Microsoft has pushed out an update to the SmartGlass beta app that lets users turn their Xbox One consoles on and off from their Android devices. This way you can start streaming content directly to your tablet without having to reach for a separate controller beforehand.
Update: Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath has been released on the Play Store, and glory be, it looks like it's not exclusive to anything. You can download it now on any Android 4.0 or higher device, and the Play Store version has the same external controller support and $5.99 price tag. Thanks to commenters step_jac and Amarus Kh for letting us know.
Update again: It looks like Stranger's Wrath is compatible with Android TV as well. Nice.
The Oddworld series is one of the hidden gems of gaming: it's never been a blockbuster in terms of sales, but each game is utterly unique and brings innovative elements across setting, story, aesthetics, and gameplay.
A number of new and interesting features are headed towards the Xbox One, but I'm going to ignore most of them. What has caught out attention is the ability to stream TV to Android devices using the SmartGlass app. The feature will join the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner in coming to various European countries in the months ahead. It will allow users to stream TV to other smartphones and tablets while continuing to play games on the Xbox One.
Check out the video below to see a demo of the functionality in action. I've jumped ahead to the relevant part for you.
Microsoft may have its own smartphone platform, but when so many Xbox gamers walk around with Android phones in their pockets, it would be a shame to ignore them (or their wallets). So the company has rolled out another update to its Xbox One SmartGlass beta app, and this one introduces the ability to purchase games and add-ons for the console remotely. It's a nice feature for people who have run out to buy an Xbox One with or without Kinect.
This is perhaps the most substantial addition, but it's not alone. The update also provides users with the ability to like game clips and items in their activity feed like the social media addicts we've all been groomed to be.