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Apple clears way for Xbox Cloud Gaming app for iPhone and iPad

 Xbox Cloud Gaming on Backbone controller.
Xbox Cloud Gaming on Backbone controller.

What you need to know

  • Apple just announced that developers "can now submit a single app with the capability to stream all of the games offered in their catalog."

  • This change clears the path for Xbox Cloud Gaming and NVIDIA GeForce Now to have dedicated apps available through Apple's App Store.

  • Up to this point, Xbox Cloud Gaming has only been accessible through a browser, which provided a worse experience when compared to a dedicated app.

Apple just announced a major change that will have a monumental effect when it comes to gaming on the iPhone and iPad. Developers can now submit apps to the App Store that can stream games. That means Xbox Cloud Gaming, NVIDIA GeForce Now, and other services should soon have dedicated apps available for iOS and iPadOS.

Up until this point, Xbox Cloud Gaming and game streaming have been limited to the web browser on iOS and iPadOS. While that made games playable, it was not as good of an experience as a dedicated app. For example, the popular game Palworld is only available on the iPhone or iPad if you use a browser.

"Today, Apple is introducing new options for how apps globally can deliver in-app experiences to users, including streaming games and mini-programs. Developers can now submit a single app with the capability to stream all of the games offered in their catalog," explained Apple in a post for developers.

"Apps will also be able to provide enhanced discovery opportunities for streaming games, mini-apps, mini-games, chatbots, and plug-ins that are found within their apps."

The latter part of that quote is interesting because it indicates the move was also made to make game discovery easier when using an iPhone or iPad. A dedicated app for Microsoft's games could provide a streamlined way to browse titles available through Xbox Game Pass that you could then play directly within an Xbox Cloud Gaming app.

While the change in policy comes after a European Commission antitrust investigation, Apple's changes to the App Store will take effect worldwide.

This is a developing story and we will add more details as they become available.

Xbox Cloud Gaming everywhere

Microsoft is eager to get Xbox Cloud Gaming into the hands of more users. Support for streaming games has rolled out to a variety of platforms and devices over the years. Of course, you can stream Xbox Cloud Gaming through an Android smartphone or tablet, but game streaming is also available on select Samsung TVs.

Devices like the Logitech G Cloud were made with streaming games in mind, including through Xbox Cloud Gaming. Meta Quest added support for Xbox Cloud Gaming late last year — and you thought the headset was just for Microsoft Office. You can even buy a projector that has Xbox Cloud Gaming built in.

While the list of supported devices is impressive, Apple's mobile hardware has been a glaring hole in the Xbox Cloud Gaming lineup, at least when it comes to dedicated apps. While streaming games through a browser is fine, it's not the same as using an app developed by Microsoft with game streaming in mind. That wasn't Microsoft's fault, of course, but it still left iPhone and iPad users left out.

Microsoft hasn't announced an Xbox Cloud Gaming app for iPhone or iPad yet, but I assume that will come quickly. Apple just announced its new App Store policies, so Microsoft will need some time to make dedicated apps.