Microsoft’s cloud gaming service is finally making its way to iOS. The company announced a Project xCloud beta is launching on Apple’s mobile operating system beginning today. This enables iPhone owners to stream Halo: The Master Chief Collection to their phone from the cloud. Microsoft has spent the last several months running an xCloud test on Android with more than 50 games you can play at no cost. Apple devotees are only getting the one game for now due to Apple’s App Store policies.
“We’ve been testing an iOS client internally, and today, we’re taking the next step by making the Project xCloud preview available for iOS users through the TestFlight program,” Xbox evangelist Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb wrote in a blog post. “To comply with App Store policies, the preview experience on iOS may look and feel different for those who have been testing on Android.”
Major Nelson listed many of the differences that iOS users will encounter. The biggest difference, of course, is that it only has one game. But it also doesn’t include the option to stream from your own Xbox hardware at home using Xbox Console Streaming.
While Microsoft is still only testing its technology, Project xCloud is already running into some of the constraints of Apple’s walled garden. It doesn’t want any competing store-like platforms on the App Store. In 2018, Apple blocked Valve from releasing the Steam Link app on the App Store. It took a year for Valve to eventually work something out to release a version of the in-home PC-streaming program for iOS devices.
Microsoft, Google, and Nvidia are all going to have this same issue with their cloud services on Apple devices. Stadia does not currently stream games to iOS, and Nvidia has no plans for iOS version of GeForce Now.
How to get into Project xCloud beta on iOS
To get into xCloud on iOS, you’ll need to jump through some hoops. First, make sure you have a Microsoft account connected to your Xbox gamertag. And then you’ll need iOS 13.0 or higher, and you’ll probably want a gamepad.
Then follow these steps to sing up:
Go to the Project xCloud registration site.
Run through the steps to register and select iOS as your mobile device.
You will then receive an email to get the app through Apple’s TestFlight service.
Open that email on your iOS device.
Go through the TestFlight process.
Install Xbox Game Streaming (Preview) inside of TestFlight.
Sign in with your Microsoft account.
Unlike the Android version, Apple puts a hard limit on TestFlight users.
“Up to 10,000 testers will be invited into the preview, but we anticipate that demand will exceed our capacity and we will be unable to accommodate all applicants,” writes Major Nelson. “We’ll distribute invitations to participate on a first-come, first-served basis.”