Back in August, I wrote a piece on how Xbox LIVE needs to be a bigger focal point for Microsoft when Windows Phone 8 finally lands in people’s hands. I wrote mainly about the gaming aspect of LIVE, which makes sense because when someone talks about Xbox LIVE, they are usually talking about gaming in one way or another. I also compared Microsoft’s efforts to Apple’s growing emphasis in the mobile gaming space, and basically outlined why it’s so important that Xbox LIVE be a bigger feature for Microsoft’s mobile operating system this time around.
We’re now under two weeks from the official launch of Windows Phone 8, and more importantly the final reveal of all those new features that we’re still waiting to see in action. While there are obviously going to be some big additions to the platform itself, one thing that I haven’t seen rumored all that much is functionality within the Xbox LIVE area. I’m not talking about gaming specifically, because after being back on Windows Phone now for just over two weeks, I realize that my desire for Xbox LIVE features goes beyond just playing games.
Or Achievements, really.
While I initially sat down to write this article, I had a notification pop up on my TV that said I had received a message from a friend. Now, there are two “normal” responses: the first, to simply ignore it, and wait until I finished with this particular piece to look at it. Or, the other option would be to hit the Xbox Guide button and open the Messages section to see what this particular friend wants to tell me. I didn’t do either one of these options. Instead, I picked up the Lumia 900 sitting next to me, accessed the Xbox LIVE Games app, and opened the message there.
Then, I replied to it. But, right after I did, I received a Party invitation from another friend. I saw that it popped up as a message in my Inbox, so I activated it on the phone. I knew what it would tell me, but I guess I just wanted to hope that something had changed. An Easter egg, maybe. But, alas, nothing was different. The message told me to open it up on my Xbox 360, and that the Party invitation had fallen on deaf ears through my Xbox LIVE-enabled phone.
First, let me just say how awesome it is that I can access my Messages through my phone, and even reply or send new ones whenever I want. It’s a great way to stay connected with my gaming friends, even when I’m not near my Xbox 360 (or, apparently, when I am, too). The only bad part of this is that there are no notifications for the messages received, which means you have to access the app to find out if you have any messages waiting for you. That’s probably not a big deal, really, since if someone’s sending me a message on Xbox LIVE and I have to read it from my phone, I’m probably not in a position to play a game with them at that particular moment.
One feature that I want in Windows Phone 8 is to be able to access a Party through my phone. I want to be able to talk on my phone, and be able to have a conversation with my friends on Xbox LIVE. While this would be cool to see done with my unlimited voice minutes, I think it would probably make more sense embedded within an application, where Wi-Fi was necessary to make use of it. Still, being able to jump into an Xbox LIVE Party right from my phone would be pretty cool, and I think that’s something I’d actively use. And I’d definitely show that off to everyone around me at some point or another.
This is a reach, but I think it would be excellent, and may even be possible with the same technology being utilized for Xbox SmartGlass. But, how great would it be to be part of someone’s game, like Halo 4, right from your phone? Two players, one being the Master Chief, and the other being a connection to Cortana, with detailed information about the area that you’re in, or the enemies that you’re facing. As you play through the game, the universe is expanded while you play, without having to catch up to checkpoints, Terminals, or anything like that. As I said, through the SmartGlass functionality, I think this would be a great way to expand that, and make even more use of Xbox LIVE features on our Windows Phone devices.
But, I want to hear from you, Dear Reader. What Xbox LIVE unique features would you incorporate into your Windows Phone? Let me know!