Microsoft have launched their new Xbox app for iOS and iPadOS overnight, introducing a number of major new features such as Remote Play from your home console and adopting the new visual design that the company are rolling out across all their gaming platforms. However, as a complete rethink of the app’s functionality and layout, it also loses some features along the way.
The update notes for the app include:
- Set up new consoles and queue games
- Play remotely from your console
- View and share game clips and screenshots
- Party chat with friends across devices
In truth a lot of that list was already possible in previous versions of the app. You could already set up an Xbox One using the app while the console works to download updates, you could already manage game clips and screenshots, and you could already message and join party chats.
The biggest additions are the new visual style, which adopts the Fluent Design that will feature across all Xbox platforms and apps, and Remote Play, which finally matches th long-standing feature on PlayStation 4. This is a parallel feature to Xbox Game Streaming via Game Pass Ultimate, streaming games directly from your console as opposed to from Microsoft’s servers. That distinction is also why it’s possible on iOS, where Apple’s strict (and nonsensical) policy on game streaming platforms has prevented Microsoft and others from launching game streaming via a dedicated app. Microsoft will introduce a web app similar to Amazon Luna in order to work around this restriction.
You can also use the app to install games, whether you own them or not – I’m currently installing Rainbow Six Siege ahead of its arrival on Xbox Game Pass on Thursday, and this could let users pre-order a disc version of a game and pre-install all the data and updates it needs to run immediately once it arrives.
Strangely, Remote Play and installing un-owned games only works with Xbox One titles, and not backward compatible games.
The app has also lost some areas and functions. You can no longer access Clubs, whether to interact with them or set up new ones, and you can’t see or track your Achievements anymore either. The OneGuide for TV viewing is dead and buried, and the Activity Feed for shared content and game news is also gone. The Microsoft Store is also no longer present, which was available in the previous app as a web view that let you buy games directly in the app.
However, on the whole, it’s worth recognising that this is the start of a new mobile app platform and will grown and expand alongside the next generation consoles.
Sony are in a similar position, announcing last week that the PS Messages app would be discontinued, ditching support for companion apps for the PS4, and promising a new PlayStation App that will surely tap into some of the new features and functionality of the PlayStation 5.
Source: App Store