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In an unexpected move, Microsoft today came out with a free Xbox Live app for iPhone and iPad, coinciding with the rollout of the new Xbox Live dashboard for the company’s Xbox 360 game console.

But there’s a catch: The iOS app is not the same as the new Xbox Live Companion app for Windows Phone. In fact, it’s missing the feature from the Windows Phone app that has been generating a lot of attention — the ability to browse and launch media on the console using the app. For now, at least, that capability remains exclusive to Windows Phone.

Here’s the feature list for the new My Xbox Live iPhone app …

  • Read and send messages to friends
  • Manage your friends list, invite new friends
  • Read and Edit your full Xbox Live profile (name, bio, motto)
  • Change your avatar features/items with the avatar closet
  • View and compare your achievement progress with friends

In a lot of ways, it’s similar to the Xbox Live capabilities that Microsoft came out with for the original Windows Phone 7. The company isn’t saying whether it plans to ultimately upgrade the iPhone/iPad app to include Xbox Live media controls.

Here are a couple of screen shots from the iPhone app.

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