My Xbox LIVE: A Handy Companion For Your Xbox

The Xbox 360 is a remarkable device, offering a vast number of entertainment options (be it video games, movies, music and apps). Another big part of the Xbox LIVE experience is the ability to interact with friends via multi-player gaming, chat or even watching a movie together with the Netflix app. While all these options may not be included, My Xbox LIVE offers the ability to keep in touch with your Xbox LIVE friends, and much more.

Find out exactly what My Xbox LIVE brings to your iPhone experience after the jump.

The Xbox Experience

If you’re hip to the new Metro UI that was released for the Xbox in December, the overall experience of My Xbox LIVE should feel quite familiar to you. The first thing you’ll need to do sign in by using your Windows Live ID, which is the same login you would use on the Windows or Xbox website. The app’s interface is spread out into three different pages: Home, Social and Games.

If you don't have a Windows Live ID connected to your Xbox LIVE account, you'll need to sign up for one.

If you don't have a Windows Live ID connected to your Xbox LIVE account, you'll need to sign up for one.

Home

Home features videos about games, news and Xbox tutorials. In addition, if you’re a fan of checking out the Gamer Spotlight, this page has you covered. On the Verizon Wireless network, these video streamed extremely well with no lag present.

Videos don't stream in HD quality, but they're still sharp.

Videos don't stream in HD quality, but they're still sharp.

Social

Social offer a lot of different features, the first being an animated version of your Xbox LIVE avatar. By tapping on your avatar, it will perform a series of different animations, ranging from happy to sad. To the left of your avatar is a list of your information, including gamer tag, first name (if provided in your bio), gamer score and your current Xbox LIVE membership type (Gold or Silver).

The Social page allows you to access the most features of the app.

The Social page allows you to access the most features of the app.

To the right of your avatar is a list of different features, including Friends, Messages and Beacons. The Friends page shows which of your LIVE friends are online. Tapping on a friend will bring up their profile (which includes their animated avatar), and you can also view their recent games, compare games you’ve both played and check out their bio.

My Xbox LIVE allows you to see which friends have (or don't have, in case of my example) similar taste in games.

My Xbox LIVE allows you to see which friends have (or don't have, in case of my example) similar taste in games.

The Messages page allows you to view/respond and write message to friends. I hate having to enter text via the Xbox because it’s so painfully slow, so when I’m interacting with friends on LIVE, I’ll send messages on my iPhone because it’s so much faster. The only downside to this feature is that the app does not send you a notification when you receive a message.

Sending a message is super fast with My Xbox LIVE.

Sending a message is super fast with My Xbox LIVE.

Beacons, a new feature that came with the recent dashboard update, allows you to passively inform friends that you’re interested in playing a game or watching a move via Netflix together. My Xbox LIVE allows you to set beacons, and will notify you when a friends responds.

Setting Beacons on the go is really convenient if you know you want to play at a later time.

Setting Beacons on the go is really convenient if you know you want to play at a later time.

Social also includes options to edit your profile and avatar. When editing your avatar, you can change your style or features, and even choose a brand spanking new avatar. Another nice features is the ability to turn your avatar 360 degrees by dragging it left or right on the screen. My only annoyance is the inability to purchase clothing from the Marketplace, but more on that later.

Changing your avatar via your phone is cool, as long as you don't want to buy clothes from the Marketplace.

Changing your avatar via your phone is cool, as long as you don't want to buy clothes from the Marketplace.

 

Games

From the Games page, you can view your most recently played titles, including disc based and downloaded games. From the main screen, the number of achievements and gamer score points are displayed for each game, and tapping on a game will take you to a secondary page that displays each achievement you’ve earned (you can tap on an achievement to see what actions were performed to earn it).

Achievement junkies will really love that deep level of information provided.

Achievement junkies will really love that deep level of information provided.

A Visual Treat

One of my favorite things about this app is the overall look and feel. As a fan of Microsoft’s Metro UI, it’s nice to get a taste of what Windows Phone 7 users see every day. The clean interface is extremely simple to navigate and the Xbox sound effects used when toggling in and out of different pages is a subtle but very enjoyable touch.

The Metro UI used in My Xbox LIVE is a visual treat.

The Metro UI used in My Xbox LIVE is a visual treat.

What’s Missing

While there are a lot of nice core features available in My Xbox LIVE, there are a number of features that are sorely lacking — the most obvious of which is the ability to access the Marketplace (including the ability to add Microsoft Points).

When I’m hanging out with my fellow gamer friends, I’m often informed of LIVE games and add-ons they highly recommend, but I tend to forget about their recommendations when I’ve eventually made my way back to my Xbox. If the ability was present in My Xbox LIVE, I’d be more apt to download the game or add-on from my phone.

Additionally, the Xbox Companion app available on Windows Phone 7 offers the ability to browse videos and music from the Zune Marketplace, which can then be activated from your phone and played on your Xbox 360 (similar to AirPlay between the iPad 2 and Apple TV). While this lack of functionality is to be expected in order to give Windows Phone 7 an advantage over its iOS counterpart, it’d be nice to see Microsoft share the love to those who aren’t ready to make the jump to their mobile platform.

Closing Comments

My Xbox LIVE is a definitely a very nice and sleek companion app that the most hardcore of Xbox 360 users will enjoy. The social features are particularly handy if you don’t own a ChatPad and get tired of taking over a minute just to write out a sentence. Additionally, it’s really nice to see which of my friends are online without having to boot up the system.

The lack of the Marketplace, though, really limits the amount of time I’ll really spend using the app. But, at the price of free, it’s definitely a good app to keep on your iPhone for when you need it.


Summary

My Xbox LIVE is a handy way to keep up with your Xbox LIVE endeavors on the go.

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