iPhone owners can finally stream Xbox games — but there's a catch

Project xCloud
(Image credit: Bloomberg / Getty)

While Microsoft has integrated Xbox functionality beautifully with both Windows 10 and Android, iOS has been sort of an outlier. Until now, the Xbox app on iOS was more or less just a way to communicate with your friends and view your achievements. 

Compare and contrast to the Android app, which lets you stream Xbox Game Pass titles directly to your phone, or the Windows app, which lets you stream any game you want from your console. In its next update, however, the Xbox app on iOS will get full Remote Play capabilities — even though you won’t be able to stream Game Pass titles from the cloud just yet.

Information comes from The Verge, where senior editor Tom Warren got his hands on an early version of the soon-to-be-released Xbox iOS app update. For those of you who have already upgraded the Xbox Android app, you’ll find that the iOS version has largely the same feature set. You can view your games library, communicate with friends and view short gameplay clips, but the big new feature is the Console Connect option.

Warren showed the process off in a video that he shared on Twitter:

Android and Windows 10 fans already know the drill. As long as your Xbox One console is turned on, and on the same network as your phone (or computer), you can stream your whole Xbox experience over Wi-Fi. After you click “Connect,” you can hook up an Xbox controller to your iOS device, then play games just as you would on an Xbox console. (PS4 has a nearly identical feature on Android, iOS and Windows called Remote Play.)

Windows 10 users have been able to stream Xbox content for years, and Android users received the feature about a week ago. While Warren didn’t discuss the release date of the new iOS Xbox app, he mentioned that it would be “soon,” so fans shouldn’t have to wait too long.

One interesting thing to keep in mind, however, is that iOS will not be receiving Android’s recent Project xCloud functionality. As of two weeks ago (or last month, if you count the open beta), Xbox Game Pass subscribers can stream more than 100 titles from the cloud directly to their Android devices. These games include Gears of War 5, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Ori and the Blind Forest, Sea of Thieves, Untitled Goose Game and a whole lot of other Xbox favorites. While iOS users have clamored for this feature (and were able to test it during closed beta last year), there’s no indication of when — or if — it will come to iOS publicly.

As such, there’s good news and bad news for Xbox owners who use iOS. You’ll finally be able to stream games directly from your Xbox to your phone, which is good. But you won’t be able to stream games directly from the cloud, which could be a bummer if you often play away from home. There’s no hard time frame for the Xbox app update, but keep your apps up to date over the next week or so, and you should get it.

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.