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A closer look at the My Xbox Live app for iOS

For a first effort, the My Xbox app is a great and free way to access some Xbox Live features from an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.

Now playing: Watch this: My Xbox Live (iOS)

The Xbox 360 dashboard's "most important update ever" hit consoles this week, merging the content search and gaming experience into a more streamlined interface.

To many people's surprise, following right up on the heels of the major update is Microsoft's first-ever iOS Xbox app simply called My Xbox Live.

While it doesn't emulate a lot of the functionality that the new dashboard boasts, the My Xbox Live app is still a solid complementary piece of software that gives Xbox Live members instant access to their friends list, messages, game history, profile, and even the ability to customize their Xbox Live avatar.

For me, I've instantly fallen in love with the ability to pop open my iPad to check which of my friends are online as opposed to booting up the console or checking the Xbox Web site.

The app is broken up into three pillars: home, social, and games. Home gives access to myriad spotlight videos such as "The Kinect Show" and other quick-hit features.

The social section holds the most functionality, and in my opinion, makes browsing through friend's profiles, comparing achievements, and the like much easier. Better yet, Microsoft included the new beacon feature here, allowing players to send out a universal call to play to their entire friends list.

Here, editing your avatar is much quicker since tapping moves the process along more fluidly than selecting various components with a controller. Players also have access to their profile, which can be edited as well.

Finally, the games section of the app allows players to revisit their game history and review personal achievement points. It's a great way to look back at what you've played, as it encompasses your entire Xbox 360 career.

Of course with such a new app there are few things I'm holding out on, like the ability to redeem marketplace codes, initiate downloads, and manage other items like my cloud game saves--especially since some of these already exist on the Xbox Web site.

Overall the app performs smoothly more often than not, and maintains the Metro-themed aesthetic that Microsoft is starting to roll out across its multiple platforms. It's logical to assume that the app will be updated with increased functionality over time, but for a first effort, the My Xbox Live app is a great and free way to access Xbox Live from an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.