If you’re both an Android lover and an avid gamer, chances are you will been waiting for Microsoft to release it’s new My Xbox Live application on the Google Play Store. With the application hitting Apple’s App Store last month it was only a matter of time before we’d see it arrive on Android and the good news is that today is that day!
I’ve personally been a fan of both Android and Xbox for a few years now and have been searching for the ideal application to suit my needs. For me, one of the biggest attractions that keeps me coming back to the Xbox is the social aspect of online gaming. The majority of my close friends are on Xbox Live and from time to time one of my favourite means of winding down after a long week at work is spending a couple of hours playing capture-the-flag whilst chatting with my friends. I was always interested in the concept of being able to glance at your phone to see who’s online and what they’re playing before deciding whether to fire up the Xbox or watch a film. With a number of popular, third party applications on the Play Store, the biggest challenge was always finding an application that you could rely on.
Over the past couple of years I’ve switched between Spark 360, XBOX Live Statistics and the unfortunately titled 1337pwn.com each of which offered various pros and cons with none of them truly delivering a perfect solution. To begin with, none of them are particularly quick. Each time you sign in, the process of checking your credentials is laboured and worse yet any time Microsoft updates its servers it would send the applications haywire, often for weeks whilst we wait for the developer to push out a fix. Despite claiming to offer real-time updates more often than not I found that my friends list needed to be manually refreshed frequently in order to get an accurate picture, again manual refreshing is a slow process. You can also throw in clunky performance, untidy user interfaces and useless widgets and you will begin to understand the problem. Did I mention that most of the applications will cost you a few pennies for the privilege of downloading?
Cue Microsoft, will the official application finally provide the solution we’ve all been waiting for? For the most part yes. The sign-in process whilst not being instant is definitely the quickest I’ve experienced to date. I have encountered one or two issues with the spotlight screen where it fails to load any data however it seems to correct itself fairly promptly. The ability to check your friends list, read and respond to messages and view your activity beacon is accurate and quick. The other usual features you would expect to see such as comparing gamer scores and updating your bio screen are present and in a nice addition you can also fully customize your avatar straight from the app. It also has to be noted that Microsoft has done a great job with the UI. The menus are clean and intuitive, navigation is crisp and animations are as smooth as butter. Windows Phone Metro UI is present throughout the app and whilst for many it’s a bit of an acquired taste as the basis for an entire OS, it works great for the application. Naturally there are one or two improvements I’d hope to see in future updates. There are no widgets available at this point, a true at-a-glance overview of online friends would be great. Remote functionality is also notable in its absence although it’s possible that Microsoft is focussing on Xbox SmartGlass for Android which is due out any time now.
In conclusion, the official app will definitely be replacing the combination of third party applications I’ve been using up until now. There are one or two areas for improvements which I believe Microsoft will eventually address however the functionality it does have is superior to the alternatives. In case you were wondering, the application is completely free. Click the link below to grab the download and be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments.