The promise of game streaming includes the ability to play games on almost any device but that promise falls a bit flat when you take into account Apple’s platform. Apple gave a big “no” to streaming services like Microsoft’s xCloud and Google Stadia, perhaps in favor of something it might launch itself later on. That said, there are other ways to play non-iOS games on iPhones and Microsoft’s latest beta of its Xbox app for iOS shows one way.
The new Xbox beta app that just launched for both Android and iOS included one key important feature. It allowed remote play and even remote installs, allowing users to play Xbox titles on their mobile devices. Unlike xCloud, however, this ability comes with one important requirement. You need to already own an Xbox console.
Remote Play has become the blanket term for a different kind of game streaming. Rather than streaming from the cloud, you’re streaming games you already own from a console or, in the case of Steam Link, computer in your house. It is pretty much a very specialized version of remote desktop access, just optimized for gaming.
One special ability of the Xbox app, however, is being able to connect to an Xbox even over cellular data. This means you can, in theory, stream from your Xbox at home while out and about. You can even install games remotely so you don’t have to worry about remembering to leave the console on and installing the right game before you leave.
Whether that last functionality will run afoul of Apple’s App Store policies remains to be seen. Valve faced such problems when it launched its Steam Link app on iOS, eventually conceding to disable certain features that allowed users to buy Steam games from their iPhones.