Microsoft Has a Plan for Cloud Streaming on Apple Devices

Posted on October 9, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in iOS, iPadOS, Mobile gaming, Project xCloud, Xbox with 29 Comments

Apple infamously decided to block Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming on iPhones and iPads. But Microsoft has a plan to work around that.

“We absolutely will end up on iOS,” Microsoft Xbox chief Phil Spencer told employees at an all-hands meeting on Wednesday ahead of the launch of the Xbox Series X|S consoles. “We’ll end up on iPhones, and iPads with Game Pass.”

News of the plan was first leaked by Business Insider, but it’s been corroborated and expanded by multiple sources, who note that Mr. Spencer “feels good” about the solution, which involves using a web app that can bypass Apple’s App Store and its unfair business practices. Amazon revealed that it will use a similar solution to get its own gaming service, called Luna, on Apple’s devices too.

Microsoft began testing its Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming service—previously codenamed Project xCloud—back in February, but it was available only in a limited preview, with just one game, because of Apple’s restrictive policies. But when the firm was ready to launch the service, it revealed that it would have to skip iOS/iPadOS because Apple required it to offer each of the 200+ games that it will have at launch as separate apps in its store so that it could hoover up a 30 percent fee on each. Microsoft has then launched a campaign complaining about Apple’s business practices and recently altered its own app store rules to show Apple a fairer approach to dealing with developers.

Game streaming is currently available only on Android phones and tablets and Xbox consoles. But Microsoft plans to expand the service to Windows PCs in early 2021. And, based on this new information, to iPhones and iPads as well.

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Comments (32)

32 responses to “Microsoft Has a Plan for Cloud Streaming on Apple Devices”

  1. Avatar

    nbplopes

    Personally I believe MS could pressure by leaving out iOS and keep on attributing Apple the responsibility for doing so. If others did this I wonder if Apple would think a 30% shared revenue is down to the value theirApp Store delivers.


    One interesting Apple exit from this would be to endorsing PWAs like no other.

    • Avatar

      toukale

      In reply to nbplopes:

      Who do you think the average Joe/Jane would blame more? The average users don't care about B to B backroom dealings, just like they don't care about the 30% some are fighting about no matter what some on forums and twitter may want you to believe. For the average joe, software have never been cheaper or more abundant and its all thanks to the appstore. Apple is not going to let some bad press deter them from their current stand, they are prepared to go all the way to the Supreme court. If some are hoping they will cave before that because of a few bad press, then they are not reading the room correctly.

      • Avatar

        nbplopes

        In reply to toukale:


        The average Joe does not care for the App Store either. They care for the use of their device.


        MS can always say that XCloud is available when Apple puts it in the App Store, by they just don’t let is. Which is true, they do not. As they don’t want any entity doing business on devices made by them without a first party 30/15 cut over all and any digital deals.


        PS: When is comes to digital services there just not iOS vs Windows vs Android users ... just users. They choose whatever devices they like the most. The problem is that a company is blocking access to the best experience to some of your users, if not access entirely, if you don’t give them a 30% cut over the deals done in your app, your house, your store.


        Developer app or service should be theirs to commercialize and no one else. Apple is stealing the devs property with such practice.


    • Avatar

      scovious

      In reply to nbplopes:

      and just hand over game streaming to Amazon?

    • Avatar

      lvthunder

      In reply to nbplopes:

      Why would they do this? They think iOS users want to become XCloud users. Why would you cut off users when you can create a good alternative?

  2. Avatar

    winner

    Ballmer, 2007: "500 dollars? Fully subsidized? With a plan? I said that is the most expensive phone in the world."

    Microsoft, 2020: Tries to break into Apple ecosystem

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      Ballmer was right about the iPhone. Which, we forget, was a failure until Apple lowered the price dramatically. https://www.thurrott.com/mobile/ios/84810/steve-ballmer-right-iphone-premium
      • Avatar

        winner

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Except that it wasn't a failure. It was expensive, but certainly not a failure. Millions of people saw how revolutionary the design was. I never bought one, but I certainly saw that it was going to be huge.


        Ballmer admitted that he was too dismissive: https://www.macrumors.com/2016/11/07/former-microsoft-ceo-steve-ballmer-wrong-iphone/

  3. Avatar

    Daniel Shissler

    I've seen multiple times on this site that game streaming is available on an Xbox One but I don't see this option. Or maybe I'm missing something.

  4. Avatar

    luis3007

    In reply to RM:

    It's already done, go to office.com

  5. Avatar

    waethorn

    So they're taking the advice of 2007 Steve Jobs: "Third-party apps are HTML5 web apps in Safari".

    • Avatar

      oscar1

      In reply to Waethorn:

      Which was an excellent idea and a precursor to todays PWA, called web 2.0 back then. But no, the massive complaints from the developer community forced Apple to release an native SDK for iPhone OS as it was called then.

  6. Avatar

    lezmaka

    Even if Microsoft did what Apple said and created 200+ apps for each game, the actual apps would be free and you'd sign in with your xbox account that has your game pass attached to it right? Apple would be getting 30 percent of nothing since all the billing happened outside of Apple's control.

  7. Avatar

    geekwithkids

    Can you stream on the X-Box console?


    I'd love to be able to do, but I don't see how.

  8. Avatar

    SRLRacing

    The implementation of this will be interesting since at least in my understanding PWA's are something of second class citizens on iOS. Speaking as an enthusiast of tech and by no means an expert I could see them tying it into Edge on iOS as a hybrid PWA to maintain any advantages running code locally may have like notifications or performance. It would also boost their Edge install base doing it that way so it would be a win win situation for Microsoft.

    • Avatar

      Calibr21

      In reply to SRLRacing:


      I wonder if Apple will change Safari to somehow handicap game streaming PWAs, such as adding in a bit more processing latency to "ensure a smooth and safe user experience."


      Google used to make changes to their websites to subtly handicap legacy Edge, Apple could do the same here.


      Amazon stated they had to work with the Safari team to get Luna working right. Those optimizations can be rolled back or changed once word comes down from up top.



      • Avatar

        SRLRacing

        In reply to Calibr21:

        That's why I'm thinking they make it a part of Edge to avoid such issues. The only major hard mandate I know of is Safari as the rendering engine which provides the possibility to build the tools needed for an excellent Xcloud experience in the browser itself.

  9. Avatar

    lvthunder

    In reply to RM:

    Why? How would that benefit Microsoft?

  10. Avatar

    Chris_Kez

    Assuming this works, Apple is going to look short-sighted. They could have worked with Microsoft to provide a great experience at a reasonable fee, to the benefit of themselves, Microsoft and consumers. Instead, they'll get nothing, they'll be completely out of the loop, and one of their primary developers will be that much more committed to PWA's, taking another nibble out of native app development; talk about dopey.

  11. Avatar

    will

    A web app is a good solution. There have been some web apps that work just like regular apps on the App Store, less some iOS functions, but the core functionality is there.

  12. Avatar

    Jester

    I'm bet PC streaming via the browser will come at the same time.

  13. Avatar

    toukale

    Lol at some of the comments from yesterday's article. Like I have been saying and Apple have pointed out multiple times you don't need an app or to be in the appstore to reach iOS users if you don't want to give Apple a dime. Some don't like it because of discovery (got to pay to play). This is a proven path, Netflix have gone down that path for a few years now and it has worked for them. Big companies like Netflix, Microsoft, Amazon etc... don't need the AppStore for that, their brand is big enough users will find them and at the same time won't have to deal with the Appstore policies. It's the best compromise for all involved, Apple can keep in place their store policies (no matter how one feel about them) and Microsoft can still reach those iOS users and also don't have to give a dime to Apple.


    I know Apple did a fantastic job in 2008 advertising "There is an app for that" campaign. It seems since then, we have all falling victim of the idea we need apps to access services when a web browser will work just as well. We don't need apps for every single thing (frankly I stopped downloading more apps unless its absolutely necessary I have Facebook to thank for that). Welcome back folks the web is a beautiful thing.

    • Avatar

      scovious

      In reply to toukale:

      Oh good idea, let me just open my internet browser of choice - oh wait I only have webkit.

      • Avatar

        ontariopundit

        In reply to scovious:

        And what percentage of Android users install and use another rendering engine? Less than 1%.


        And, Microsoft users cannot replace the rendering engine at all since Microsoft has no mobile OS:).


        Ultimately we all lost when Microsoft Mobile was destroyed by legal competition by Google and by Apple. Sadly there has been no Linux to fill the void the way Linux became a viable third operating system (family) to the hegemony of Mac and Windows in the early 2000's.


        No. Distros like Lineage OS are not the third party we need since most Android phones can't support Lineage OS.

        • Avatar

          Greg Green

          In reply to OntarioPundit:

          I think MS mobile was destroyed more by MS bumbling, thinking their customers (and developers) would follow where ever MS led.


          primarily, didn’t MS have 3 or 4 generations of phone oses that were not backward compatible, requiring new apps by developers and new phones by customers? That’s enough to turn anyone off.

      • Avatar

        toukale

        In reply to scovious:

        Isn't that the case for every mobile OS, even on windows 10S?

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