Xbox game streaming confirmed for Apple iOS and Windows

Microsoft is bringing its cloud game-streaming service to Apple’s iOS and Windows PCs in spring 2021.

Previously known as xCloud, until now it has been available on Xbox consoles and Android smartphones only.

Microsoft tried to launch the service on iPhones too but the move was blocked by Apple, prompting a public row between the two technology giants.

And now Microsoft says a new web-browser-based version will bypass Apple’s App Store restrictions.

Another way
The game-streaming service is now part of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription plan, which gives gamers access to more than 100 games for £10.99 a month.

On PCs, the browser-based streaming will be available alongside a version that uses the Windows Xbox app.

Microsoft felt that was not feasible and previously hinted it would find another way to bring the service to iPhones and iPads.

The workaround is to not use the App Store at all, by letting people access the service through a web browser, just like any other website.

The same approach has been adopted by streaming service GeForce Now, which recently announced its own web-browser solution for iOS.

And that has the knock-on effect of bringing back Fortnite to iPhones through cloud streaming, despite Apple banning the game from the App Store amid a row over payment fees.

Amazon’s forthcoming service, Luna, is also pursuing the same workarounds.

‘Easy path’
The move to other platforms is part of Microsoft’s drive towards subscription services, whether or not the customer owns an Xbox console.

It estimates the changes in spring will mean an extra billion devices capable of connecting to its cloud gaming service.

“Expanding Xbox to new players is central to our ambition of helping games and developers find an easy path to the world’s three billion gamers”, the company said.

“We are doing this by embracing multiple devices and providing a consistent Xbox experience wherever you log in.”

Microsoft’s strategy appears to be working – it said user engagement with the Game Pass system had doubled year-on-year and it was now expanding the game-streaming programme to new countries, including Australia, Brazil, Japan and Mexico.