Xbox Game Pass now works on Android TV — sort of

Xbox Game Pass
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Xbox Game Pass games are now available to stream on PCs, Android and iOS — but there’s still no easy way to stream games to a TV. That could be about to change, however, as the latest version of the Xbox Game Pass Android app includes official support for Android TV.

Before you run to sync up your Xbox controller with your Chromecast with Google TV, however, take note: there’s essentially no functionality on the Xbox Game Pass for Android TV app just yet. How long we’ll have to wait for full support is also something of a mystery.

Information comes from 9to5Google, where writer Ben Schoon investigated the latest updates to the Xbox Game Pass for Android app. A deep dive into version 2017 of the app confirms that it includes a stable channel for Android TV updates, and that features support for an icon on the Android TV home screen.

In other words: Microsoft has not officially released the Xbox Game Pass app on Android TV just yet. But all the infrastructure is in place, which suggests that we may see an update that makes the whole project viable sooner rather than later.

Some clever readers have no doubt remembered that Android TV, like the Android phone OS, allows users to side-load content. As such, it is indeed possible to add an Xbox Game Pass icon to your Android TV home screen, if you’re willing to hunt down an APK and work a little magic with a thumb drive.

However, it’s not really worth going through the trouble at the moment. Schoon tested this method, and discovered that the app runs slowly, doesn’t play nicely with non-touch controls and freezes as soon as you try to load a game. If you really, really want an Xbox Game Pass icon on your Android TV, you can have it, but it won’t do you much good at the moment.

Still, the news is encouraging, for anyone who’s dreamed of playing Xbox games on a TV without buying an expensive gaming console. While it’s entirely possible that Android TV functionality could prove unworkable, having a stable release channel is often a sign of imminent updates. Furthermore, Microsoft has gone on record, saying that it plans to incorporate Xbox streaming apps into existing ecosystems:

“Xbox is working with global TV manufacturers to embed the Xbox experience directly into internet-connected televisions with no extra hardware required except a controller,” the company said in a June blog post. Since many TVs run on an Android TV OS, it’s easy to see how the two ideas could work in harmony.

At present, we know that Microsoft is also planning to expand streaming capabilities to Xbox consoles, as well as its own upcoming streaming hardware. If you have a gaming PC, Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S, those are probably still the best places to play Xbox games at the moment — but perhaps they won’t be forever.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.