Microsoft releases Windows Phone-esque Xbox LIVE app for iOS

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Microsoft launched an official Xbox LIVE app in Apple's App Store that features some of the functionality found on the Xbox 360 console besides gameplay, brings look and feel of Windows Phone to iOS devices.

A day after the launch of a Dashboard update to Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming console on Tuesday, the company released its first iOS app that can access content from the Xbox LIVE service, named My Xbox LIVE.

The Xbox LIVE service has become a major part of Microsoft's bid for customers' living rooms, and leverages the console's processing power to stream movies, TV shows and other media rich content to HDTVs. Initially, LIVE was the platform's hub for multiplayer gaming, but has now grown into a digital content provider and aggregation system with partners like Hulu Plus and Netflix.

While an iOS client has been a long time coming, as the App Store has seen numerous workaround programs that access at least some LIVE content like friends lists, the official app is effectively a port of the built-in app for Windows Phone 7 right down to the fonts.

The overall layout and structure of My Xbox LIVE is user friendly, and incorporates familiar iOS swipe functionality with the tiled UI from Microsoft's smartphone platform. Icons and UI animations like fading in and out of menus smacks of Windows Phone, but is executed well with smooth transitions and seamless loading of graphics.

In the app, users can access friends lists, game data, messages and beacons through three main menus: "Home," "Social" and "Games."

"Home" highlights a handful of scrollable videos that, when clicked, will open in the iOS video player, as well as select interactive polls. The "Social" page features the only tiled selective menu, allowing users to see which friends are online, read messages or access the newly-created game beacon system. "Games" offers a list of recently played titles along with in-game achievements and points earned.

Screenshots of My Xbox LIVE for iOS on iPhone 4S

Microsoft's iPad version of the program is similar in layout, but is optimized to take advantage of the larger screen, showing more content and detail.

Released alongside the iOS app was an update to the native Windows Phone client, boasting increased functionality including an enhanced remote control system that allows users to select content via their smartphone and play it through the console.

Although not as robust as the Windows Phone version, the iOS app is meant for thoe who happen to own an Xbox 360 and an iPhone or iPad.