Microsoft’s xCloud beta arrives on iOS and PC this week

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Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud) will officially arrive on iOS and PC tomorrow, April 20th. The service will arrive on devices via browsers, allowing Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to play Xbox games on iPhones, iPads, and PCs. Microsoft is keeping this beta rather limited, though, and requiring players to be invited to participate in the testing phase.

The service will be accessible at www.xbox.com/play, where Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers who have been invited to the beta will be able to play Xbox games through Edge, Chrome, or Safari browsers. More than 100 games will be available, and testers will be able to use a compatible Bluetooth or USB-connected controller or simply use custom touch controls.

“The limited beta is our time to test and learn; we’ll send out more invites on a continuous basis to players in all 22 supported countries, evaluate feedback, continue to improve the experience, and add support for more devices,” says Catherine Gluckstein, Microsoft’s head of xCloud. “Our plan is to iterate quickly and open up to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members in the coming months so more people have the opportunity to play Xbox in all-new ways.”

It’s the first time Xbox Game Streaming has been available on iOS devices after the service launched exclusively on Android phones and tablets last year. Microsoft wasn’t able to offer xCloud on iPhones or iPads during the initial launch phase of the service back in September due to Apple’s restrictions on cloud gaming apps.

Both Apple and Microsoft got into a public war of words over xCloud, and Apple initially insisted that Microsoft would have to submit individual games for review. Apple eventually offered a compromise to allow cloud gaming apps to run on iOS with individually reviewed games, but Microsoft branded it a “bad experience for consumers.”

Comments

I am embarrassed to say it, but I am looking forward to xCloud on PC. I have been playing a lot of xCloud games on my Pixel phone. I like it but I dislike the small screen. So, I bought a Samsung Tab on Black Fri from the Microsoft Store for xCloud. This is my first non-stock android device. It is a lot better but I would prefer it on PC. I have to be honest, I really hate how much I am liking xCloud. I have over 800 digital XB1 games on my console (not counting BC games) and I prefer playing games on xCloud instead of turning on my console. I feel guilty supporting xCloud because I know it will eventually replace direct purchase. I do not support a subscription based cloud gaming future. But, xCloud is just so easy to use. I am literally playing the same games I already bought digitally on my XB1. If Luna was included in Prime, Stadia was included in Premium, and Now was included in Plus, I may use them too. I am only using xCloud because it is included in Game Pass.

I hope I get send an invite tomorrow!

P.s. if it is in the browser, can’t it work on Mac also?

Dumb question: if you own an XB1, why are you streaming from Microsoft’s servers rather than your home console? I’ve used XCloud a handful of times, but generally to play a game that isn’t available on PC (my last Xbox was a 360) or where the PC install is enormous and I’m not going to use it enough to justify the space (looking at you, Sea of Thieves).

I could either…turn on my XB1 to play my game or I can just plug in my controller in my mobile device to play a game. The latter is easier and faster even if I am home. And when I get access on PC, that will be even faster than my phone. Plus, this leaves my TV free to watch things.

Yep, it doesn’t make sense. Hence, why I hate how much I am using xCloud.

I see my sentence above wasn’t totally clear. I didn’t mean "why are you playing on your phone / tablet, instead of your XB1?" — I have a PS4, and use Remote Play to stream to my phone. I thought, if I had an XB1 / XSX, I could do the same thing, instead of using XCloud. Am I wrong?

If I’m right, you could be streaming "in-home", presumably with better performance / startup time / resolution, rather than from the cloud. And in that case, why not?

Sorry I misunderstood. Yes, XB1 does have a "remote play" feature. I think it is called console streaming. That also requires my XB1 to be on. I tried it before. It reminded me of Microsoft Remote Desktop but for consoles.

I do not know what it is but xCloud is just so easy to use. I use it in my living room, which the xb1 is, and in the bedroom. I bought one of those razer controller case.

I feel bad even thinking about how much I use it.

I recently got an Xbox Series S, and the resume/load time on it is so fast that I’ve started doing remote play (or whatever) out of the vanilla Xbox app on my phone since it actually launches waaaaaaaay faster than xCloud.

For Game Pass games, I’ll stick with xCloud so I don’t have to clutter the small hard drive on my Series S, but for game I own outside of Game Pass (which, I admit is dwindling), I’ll just stream it off my console.

You can’t play your purchased games through xCloud, only some Game Pass games are available. Are you confusing this with console streaming?

It’s limited to only 720p though It’s sad, but Stadia’s performance (when it works, which isn’t all the time) is significantly better.

Btw if it’s in a browser, it could work on a Samsung Smart Fridge too.

Honestly, if you can, get a Series console. I remember my One taking 2-3 minutes from turning on to be loaded into a game. My Series turns on and quick resumes into a game in about 20s now, and that’s with it being in power saving mode. Total game changer!

It’s a little crazy to me that they aren’t also simultaneously starting the beta of the UWP version, for things like the Surface.

Yes, the browser would work too, but it just seems like a no-brainer (especially on Windows ARM devices) to have the native app for this. The leaked beta works fine, why are they not just making it official?

But still, it’s really cool that this sort of thing can work through a browser these days.

It’s insane that Apple holds back competition so much that they need to resort to a web app to release this.

Yeah, I don’t really understand this one especially since Apple’s review process isn’t as ironclad as they make it out to be. Apple takes two steps forward, three back when it comes to stuff like this. Just let MS make a native app and be done.

For what it’s worth, the Geforce Now web app works great and I don’t see any difference between it and a native app. So I expect xCloud to work just as well.

But I still think it’s awful Apple won’t let them release a native app. Some of Apple’s App Store policies are actually quite good for consumers – but this one really isn’t.

Oh I have nothing against web apps, they work great! It’s more just the fact that Apple holds iOS back with it’s stupid restrictions on the app store. They claim it’s to avoid it becoming a flea market, but the truth is that it’s to protect its profit.

Can Apple do anything to stop the Web app working on ios?

I don’t think so, I think they’ve made it very clear they are working closely with game streaming services to work on Safari.

Still 720p? I’m all for the web app but hopefully a resolution bump to at least 1080p and an app for Series S/X aren’t far behind.

The server hardware is still based on the XB1, so yeah 720p.

The XBSX version is coming this year apparently, who should mean 1080p, fast load times and (fingers crossed) quick resume.

My biggest complaint about my limited time with XCloud is the startup time, so I really hope you’re right. If I could get into an XCloud session faster than I could start a game on my Switch, I might use it more than I do today.

sounds like the Xbox head confirmed the Series X blades are already in use internally. Should be coming out to the consumer side for xcloud performance improvements hopefully soon.

My biggest complaint about my limited time with XCloud is the startup time

It would be beyond amazing if they work out quick resume in xcloud. Being able to just pause a game at any stage, then simply pick it up again on any device within 10-15 seconds would be a game changer.

However… logistically I can see how that would be a nightmare.

In any case just the SSD load times based on XBSX hardware will still make a huge difference.

they would have to sync you paused session state (quick resume) from your console to cloud and back in real-time. While it’s possible, no way they can do it with 10-15 seconds. More like 10-15 minutes if your console is on good internet connection.

from your console to cloud and back in real-time

Yeah that’s impossible. I was just thinking more from one cloud session to another (will make more sense when they have apps for PC, Android, and ios/Web)

We’re talking about XCloud, not local play. That means that you’d suspend a game, and its memory state would go over a local connection from the blade where you’re playing to "hot storage" somewhere in the next rack (certainly in the same data center). It would be pretty common to see 10G network rates for that configuration, so moving a full snapshot in a few seconds wouldn’t be crazy.

The server hardware is not why the stream is limited to 720p. The Xbox One S is capable of 4K after all. It’s most likely for bandwidth and latency reasons while they work out the kinks. 1080p streaming is apparently already being tested.

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