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Use your mobile device with the Xbox One and PS4

Did you know that you can access various Xbox One and PS4 features from your smartphone or tablet? It's relatively simple to set up; here's what you need to know.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Xbox 360 was released in the fall of 2005 and the PlayStation 3 a year later. Back then smartphones weren't all that smart, the mobile market was dominated by players like BlackBerry and Nokia, and gaming was split between consoles and PCs.

Everything changed, however, when Apple released the iPhone; and once again with the release of the iPad. The mobile revolution has changed the way we share, consume media, and play games. You would be hard-pressed to find someone without a cell phone these days, let alone a smartphone.

To take advantage of the increased adoption rate of mobile devices, Microsoft and Sony fine-tuned their mobile apps that allow gamers to access various Xbox One and PlayStation 4 features from their smartphones and tablets.

Xbox One SmartGlass

If you owned an Xbox 360, then you are most likely familiar with Microsoft's SmartGlass app. From a mobile device gamers can navigate the user interface, launch apps and games, and access social features such as achievements, friends, and messages.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Xbox One SmartGlass app, which is separate from the Xbox 360 app, is faster and more stable than earlier versions. This is because, according to Microsoft, "the Xbox One was designed from the ground up with SmartGlass in mind."

The app is available for free for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Windows 8 and RT devices. It is compatible with Android smartphones and tablets running Android 4.0 or higher, Windows Phone devices running version 7.5 or higher, and also the iPhone 3GS, fourth-generation iPod Touch, and every iPad model.

Getting started
The first time you open the app you will be prompted to sign in to your Microsoft account. Once complete, you will notice four rows of tiles -- Now Playing, Recent, Featured, and My Pins.

The Now Playing tile displays information based on your current actions, while the Recent section displays your recent Xbox activity. Microsoft pins new movies, TV shows, and games in the Featured section, while the apps and games you've specifically pinned to the Xbox One's home screen are displayed under My Pins.

The Options menu gives you quick access to a variety of social features. Screenshot by Dan Graziano/CNET

A gesture swipe from left to right, or tapping the button with three horizontal lines on the top left-hand side of the screen, will open the Options menu. From here you can access your Xbox Live profile, friends list, achievements, pins, messages, and app settings.

Connecting to the Xbox One
Of course all these cool features aren't useful if you aren't connected to your console. This can be done by clicking the Connect button in the SmartGlass app, which should display your Xbox One.

If your console isn't displayed, make sure the Xbox One and your mobile device are connected to the same network and try clicking the Connect button again. If it still doesn't work, click on the "Enter IP address" option and manually enter the Xbox One's IP address, which can be found by going to the console's Settings, clicking on Network, and selecting Advanced Settings.

The SmartGlass remote can be a little awkward to use at first. Screenshot by Dan Graziano/CNET

Launching a live tile from the SmartGlass app will transform your mobile device into an Xbox One controller, complete with A, B, X, and Y buttons.

Select games and programs also include a companion feature that will display additional information on your device.

For example, at certain points in Dead Rising 3 your mobile device is transformed into a "Zombie Defense and Control Personal Digital Assistant," which allows you to interact with non-player characters, call for airstrikes, and more.

To keep the screen on your device from dimming or turning off while using SmartGlass, enter the app settings and check the "Stay Awake" box.

Use the search feature, which can be found next to the Connect button, to quickly find games, movies, TV shows, music, and apps.

PlayStation 4

Sony released the PlayStation app in North America to coincide with the launch of the PlayStation 4. Similar to Microsoft's SmartGlass, it can be used as a second screen while playing select games, in addition to providing access to the PlayStation Store, various social features, and tutorials, among other things.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The PlayStation companion app is available for free in Apple's App Store and Google's Play store. The app is compatible with Android smartphones and tablets running Android 4.0 or later, and the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch running iOS 6 or later.

Getting started
You must log in to your PlayStation account, which can be done in the settings menu on the app's home screen, before you can access the app's full features. The first thing you will notice on the app's interface is the What's New box, which shows recent games played and other updates from your PSN friends.

The app also gives you quick access to your profile, trophies, friends list, and the PlayStation Store, where you can purchase new games. The navigation bar on top of the screen is home to even more social features such as notifications, invitations, game alerts, and messages.

The Links tab on the bottom of the screen gives gamers access to the latest PlayStation news, tutorials, promotions, and events from Sony.

Connecting to the PS4
In order to connect to the PlayStation 4, you must register the smartphone or tablet you plan to use. Go to Settings on the console, select PlayStation App Connection Settings, and click on Add Device.

You will need to input the eight-digit code from your TV to your mobile device to connect to the PS4. Dan Graziano/CNET

Make sure your system and mobile device are connected to the same network, and then click on the "Connect to PS4" tab from the PlayStation app, select your console, and input the eight-digit code that was displayed on your HDTV.

The virtual PlayStation controller is just as confusing as the one on Microsoft's SmartGlass. Screenshot by Dan Graziano/CNET

Once the connection is complete, you will be presented with three options: to disconnect, power the system down, or use your mobile device as a second screen. Selecting the second screen option will reveal two additional features -- remote and keyboard.

The remote option transforms your smartphone or tablet into a PlayStation 4 controller (similar to Microsoft's SmartGlass remote) that can be used to navigate around the user interface.

The keyboard feature, which is incredibly handy, gives you the option to use your mobile device's on-screen keyboard for things like sending a message instead of the one on the PlayStation 4.

Similar to the Xbox One, the PlayStation 4 can also use your smartphone or tablet to display additional content while playing compatible games. For example, Need For Speed Rivals uses the second-screen feature to display a map that allows gamers to see other in-game drivers and nearby checkpoints.

The PlayStation 4 can also be linked up with a PlayStation Vita over a Wi-Fi network. To find out more about the PlayStation 4's Remote Play feature and to learn how to set it up, check out CNET's complete how-to guide.