Microsoft today extends its Project xCloud service to the iPhone. The software giant is launching a beta version of xCloud via Apple's TestFlight service, with which xCloud testers can test the service on an iPhone or iPad. It's the first time since OnLive's days that a cloud game streaming service appears on iOS – and OnLive's iOS app was pending when Apple didn't approve it. Google's Stadia and Nvidia's GeForce Now are also not yet available on Apple devices, and neither company has been able to tell us when this could change.
Microsoft apparently had to make some changes to appease Apple. "To comply with the App Store guidelines, the preview on iOS may look different than on Android," said Larry Hryb of Microsoft in a blog post.
Due to Apple's guidelines, which Microsoft neither discloses nor explains, only one title works with iOS devices. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is available to 10,000 testers who, according to Microsoft, invite you to preview. The app is also limited to xCloud and does not include the Xbox Game Streaming feature, which allows games to be streamed from an Xbox console.
It is not clear where Apple's limits are or why the iPhone manufacturer is repeatedly restricting the launch of cloud-based game streaming services on its iOS devices. Google started its Stadia service with a simple iOS app that doesn't support streaming, and Microsoft seems to be pushing ahead with the tests in the hope that Apple will finally approve these types of apps. It took almost a year for Apple to release Valve's Steam Link app, although mostly games were streamed from your home PC.
Similar apps like Remotr and Rainway also made it to the App Store, but no curated streaming services. The closest is the Blade for Shadow iOS app, which gives you access to a gaming PC that's in a server farm, but doesn't include a game catalog itself.
If you are lucky enough to receive an invitation to the xCloud iOS test, it will appear in your email inbox. You must register (or re-register) using this link and select "iOS" as the make or model of your phone for Microsoft to select you as the iOS tester. Microsoft says the participants will be exchanged due to the limitations of the test restrictions. Hopefully more games will be added if Apple allows it.
Update, 13:38 ET: Added more context to OnLive, Shadow, Remotr, Rainway.