Microsoft screens out Apple’s iPad Mini announcement

Apple TV owners will be able to watch a live stream of  the iPad Mini announcement later today, Apple confirmed this morning, but they may find themselves watching the wrong show. When it comes to integrated three-screen entertainment, Microsoft’s formal announcement this morning of SmartGlass and Internet Explorer for Xbox is a much bigger deal.

The free SmartGlass app lets any mobile device, whether running Android, iOS, or Windows, to communicate with and control a TV connected to an Xbox 360 console and to move video and music content seamlessly between them — in effect, co-opting non-Windows devices into the Xbox ecosystem. IE for Xbox lets users do the same with web content, bringing multitouch control to web TV. You can watch the demo video here.

Here’s  an infographic Microsoft released showing the projected growth in the number of devices capable of accessing Xbox entertainment content and services:

SmartGlass will become an even bigger deal if Microsoft adds a TV tuner to the next version of the Xbox, as Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter predicts its will in 2014. That would allow Microsoft to integrate live, linear TV content into the Xbox entertainment platform where it can strike deals with pay-TV providers, and turn any SmartGlass-enabled mobile device into a multitouch-driven remote navigation device for both linear and on-demand content.

For all of Steve Jobs’ boasting of having “finally cracked” the secret to improving the TV user experience, Apple needs to get cracking if it means to compete in the digital living room.