It's been a long time coming, but starting tomorrow, OnLive is really, truly bringing playable cloud games to tablets and smartphones with an app for iOS and Android. This week, the company showed us its cloud gaming service running not only on the HTC Flyer, iPad 2, and Motorola Xoom, but also Amazon's Kindle Fire and an HTC Rezound smartphone as well, and let us try out the first of many games to come with touchscreen-friendly controls. There isn't a huge list of touch games yet, mind you, but Defense Grid Gold and Split/Second worked well, the former a tower defense game that natively supports pinch-to-zoom and finger scrolling, and the latter a fast-paced arcade racing game which overlays virtual joysticks, buttons, and sliders on the screen to help you steer, and keep the gas petal firmly planted to the floor. Oh, and OnLive's working with some big names on touchscreen games, too. L.A. Noire will have touchscreen controls as well, and OnLive says you'll be able to manipulate criminal evidence with your fingers.
As always, you'll need a decent internet connection to play, and as far as connectivity is concerned, the service ran decently over 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and actually pretty well with a 5GHz connection, and OnLive CEO Steve Perlman says that you can literally drive up and down Highway 101 (between San Jose and San Francisco) with an LTE tablet and game all the while. We did notice a discrepancy between the Android and iOS versions, though. For whatever reason, the iPad 2 seems to stream higher quality images than the Android tablets right now.
Of course, you'll get an even more responsive experience if you pair an OnLive Universal Controller with your tablet or phone, which the company has now priced at $49.99, or £39.99 in the UK. It has a proprietary low-latency wireless technology to connect to a variety of handhelds (OnLive says the protocol is actually already built into some existing devices, and just needs to be woken up!) and comes with a USB dongle to connect four of the new controllers to a single OnLive Microconsole or PC, but also has Bluetooth for legacy devices like the tablets and phones you'll probably be using immediately. That said, you can't buy one right away. OnLive says the controller will be available "soon" from the company's online store, but couldn't provide a specific date.
Speaking of soon, the the app itself will roll out gradually. Perlman promised us it would arrive in the Android Market for most devices, but that certain handsets would need to be tested before the software is available, and both iOS and Kindle Fire versions are waiting on final publisher approval. There's also a Google TV version in the works. In case you're curious, OnLive does have a potential workaround for the iTunes App Store's subscription gaming problem — you won't be able to purchase games directly from the iOS version of the app.
While you wait to try it for yourself, take a peek at our video below.