Microsoft has been developing "second screen" experiences for some time. The Xbox SmartGlass apps, which connect Windows 8, iOS and Android devices to the Xbox 360, have been downloaded a total of 17 million times since they launched in the fall of 2012. Today, Microsoft announced a new program that it claims will take that kind of second screen web application to the next level.
In a blog post, Microsoft announced what it calls the Companion Web Experience. The company points out that currently, a website might have to have multiple versions made to serve different types of devices, such as a tablet, smartphone, desktop PC or even a big screen TV. Microsoft says their idea of the Companion Web does away with this kind of website development.
The blog states:
Regardless of who makes the device or software that powers the device, the Companion Web enables the internet to bridge the gap between these devices. For developers, Companion Web represents an opportunity to reuse code that works across multiple scenarios, enabling greater reach and ways to engage an audience. For consumers, Companion Web means you’ll seamlessly move from one device to the next, interacting with your photos, videos, music, movies, television shows, files, and more.
Microsoft's Internet Explorer team has worked on their own second screen experiences such as the DailyBurn exercise and health service and more recently with the Nokia Music powered Mix Party music and social service. Today, Microsoft announced a new partnership with the app developer Polar; its iOS app is now available to download, but it can also link up to IE 10 on a Windows 8 tablet.
While a person watches a TV show on a Windows 8 tablet, such as Futurama as shown in the above video, the Polar iOS app connects to a snap view version of IE10. The app then lets users vote in polls based on what they are seeing on the screen; the user can see the overall results on the snapped view version of IE10 while still watching the TV show.
Microsoft says that this is just the beginning of their Companion Web plans and we can expect to see even more of these kinds of experiences over the coming months. It adds, "We’re going to keep spending time in front of our many screens, and the Companion Web emphasizes our ability to engage with the media we’re consuming."