It seems the ties that bind Windows Phones and Xbox 360 game machines together are growing tighter by the week.
At this week's Nokia World expo in England, Microsoft showed off some of the new ways that Windows Phones will work with Xbox 360 game machines in the near future. And there's definitely some intriguing stuff coming down the line.
We first heard about forthcoming WP7 Xbox Companion App earlier this month. But now, Microsoft's Windows Phone blog is giving us a look at how the app will turn your phone into a media controller for your Xbox 360. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
Microsoft blogger Ben Rudolph demonstrated how the app lets you use Bing to find, say, a movie, learn more about it, and then start up the movie on your TV via the Xbox 360. The app lets you use the phone much like you would a remote controller — pausing, fast-forwarding, etc. Take a look:
But as a gamer, what I've been most interested in is how Windows Phones can be used with Xbox 360s to impact and enhance gameplay.
Windows Phones have worked in conjunction with the Xbox Live online service since the phones first launched. Though the cross-over features started off fairly limited — you could build up your Xbox Live gamer score and add to your achievements list by playing certain games on your phone for example — they have been growing.
We've already seen how playing WP7 games "Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst," "Full House Poker" and "Fable Coin Golf" can have an impact on the related Xbox 360 games you're playing.
But ever since we were treated to this tech demo showing gamers using a Windows Phone to control an Xbox 360 Kinect game, we've known bigger things must be in the works.
It seems that giant kittens are at least one of the bigger things in the works. Rudolph posted the following video showing how the "Kinectimals" game app for Windows Phones (due to launch next week) will work in conjunction with the "Kinectimals" game for the Xbox 360.
As you can see, you'll be able to pass the virtual lion, tiger or bear that you're raising and training in the Windows Phone version of the game over to your Xbox version of the game and back again using a QR code, the Kinect camera and the new Kinectivity function:
While raising virtual animals on your phone may not be up your (grown-up) alley, it's easy to see how this cross-device gaming could be put to good use in other titles.
I'm just guessing here, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw Windows Phones get in on some "Halo 4" action.
For more game news, check out:
- Old-school 'Halo' gets new-school Kinect controls
- 'Fable Coin Golf' is a Windows Phone 7 win
- Halo Reclaimer Trilogy will go deep with Master Chief, Cortana
- Aye matey, pirates have plundered 'Modern Warfare 3'
Winda Benedetti writes about games for msnbc.com. You can follow her tweets about games and other things here on Twitter or join her in the stream here on Google+ . And be sure to check out the In-Game Facebook page here.