Apple has long been known as a company that likes to seamlessly bring its products together through a series of tight in-house controls, similar interfaces, and even tethering its tablets/smartphones to a PC (which Apple hopes is a Mac), although that practice is changing a bit with iOS 5 which no longer requires you to use your PC to perform updates and other similar things.

There is no arguing that Apple has made certain that all its products have a similar look and feel, while also working together in unique ways. With the Apple TV there are functions that you can use a iPhone, iPad, or Touch with to add extra functionality to Apple TV.

Microsoft has recently been borrowing many pages out of Apple’s Handbook, with its rumored control over which vendors its W8 tablet ARM companies work with and bringing its Metro/Phone7 style interface to a variety of platforms including the PC and Xbox 360.

Microsoft isn’t stopping there and has now released an “Xbox Companion” app for its Phone 7 smartphones. This app has been expected for a while, and after an initial delay is finally available for download.

This free app allows you to use Bing-powered search to look through the Xbox catalog for movies, music, shows, games, and apps. You can even look through the Zune video catalog through the app as well.

The Companion app allows you to learn more details about movies, shows, and games that are playing on your console. The app even lets you track friend activity and achievements.

The coolest part is that the app will allow you to launch content from the app to the connected Xbox console. You can also use your phone as a sort of remote to pause, play, fast-forward, and rewind the content on your system.

This is just further testament to how Microsoft is changing its practices, in-house. While the connection between the new Phone 7 app and 360 might seem similar to the Apple TV/iPhone/iPad connection, there is certainly more power behind the hood of the 360 and so it allows many interesting new capabilities that I’m sure Microsoft is heavily at work on as we speak.

Additionally, a Metro conversion of this app geared towards tablets wouldn’t surprise me at all. Even the ability to use the tablet as controller for games (like the Nintendo Wii U) could be in the works in the future.

Right now is an exciting time to follow Microsoft because we are finally getting changes from the ‘same old’, that we’ve come to expect from them. Are the changes for the better or worse? This probably varies based on who you ask I’d say.

The truth is that the world of technology is changing and Microsoft knew that it needed to jump ahead and make a bold move in order to adapt to this new future. While its recent moves with its products like Windows 8 might be a bit of a gamble, sitting around and doing nothing while keeping ‘status quo’, as it has for over a decade, would certainly prove even more of a gamble.

What do you think of Microsoft’ recent changes? Are they just trying to piggyback off Apple’s recent success? What do you think of the new Phone 7 Xbox companion app? Share your thoughts below!

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