Xbox SmartGlass to launch 10/26

Microsoft’s ambitious “second-screen” update for the Xbox 360 will go live this Friday.

Xbox SmartGlass will enable users to pair their smartphone, tablet, and computer to their Xbox experience, enabling a deeper and more customizable way of playing games and watching content.

Among the games that will have SmartGlass functionality enabled on day one are Forza Horizon, Dance Central 3, Halo Waypoint, and Ascend. The Xbox 360’s ESPN, NBA Game Time, and UFC apps will also support the feature.

And finally, numerous other video apps including HBO Go, NBC News, MSN, Univision, and the 2012 election app, will have second screen features available after the service launches.

This news comes just days after Microsoft updated the Xbox 360 Dashboard interface.     The new Dashboard incorporates a few of the enhancements that were announced at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in June, including an Internet Explorer app that finally brings Web browsing to the Microsoft console. The PS3 and Wii have had fully functional Internet browsers for years but Microsoft hopes this will be a more seamless experience.

The update also adds integration with Rotten Tomatoes so users can see social ratings for downloadable movies. A new recommendation feature also lets users rate all sorts of content from within the Xbox Marketplace. The Dashboard is also getting more personalized, with the ability to “pin” games, TV shows, and other content that is usually buried under layers of menu screens so that it is the first thing they see on the Dashboard.

The update also ushers in the newly branded Xbox Video platform, which at this point is effectively the same as the former Zune Video Marketplace, but without the “Zune” moniker. The update also improves voice search, integrates TV shows and movies into a new channel, and there is now a dedicated “Sports” channel as well.