Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud) is now available for all iOS and Windows 10 users, after a few months of invite-only access. Any subscriber to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is now able to start streaming Game Pass games to iPhone, iPad and Windows 10 PCs via a web browser, and the experience should be better than ever, as Microsoft has confirmed that the Xbox Series X upgrade to their servers has gone live.
In order to start playing, you need to visit xbox.com/play through Safari on iPhone or iPad, or using Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome on Windows. On Apple’s devices, you then need to follow the steps to create a ‘web app’ that will be added to your home screen. Later this year, Xbox Cloud Gaming will be built into the Xbox app in Windows 11.
Aside from that, you will ideally connect a compatible Bluetooth controller –the Xbox controllers will surely provide the best experience, but you can also connect a v2 DualShock 4, though there’s also more dedicated devices like the Razer Kishi or the new Backbone One, which adds controller elements around the phone screen. There are 50 games on Game Pass that support touch controls as another option, and apparently one-in-six Cloud Gaming users play exclusively using touch controls.
In terms of device compatibility, Windows 10 users will want to make sure they are well up to date with the October 2020 update installed. iOS devices need to be running iOS 14.4 or newer. Microsoft has currently certified the following devices as being compatible – not all phones capable of iOS 14.4 can play.
Xbox Cloud Gaming verified iPhones
iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max
Xbox Cloud Gaming verified iPads
iPad Air (3rd Gen), iPad Air (4th Gen), iPad Pro 11 2nd Gen, iPad Mini 5th Gen, iPad 8th Gen
Xbox Cloud Gaming verified Windows 10 devices
Surface Go, Surface Go 2, Surface Pro 6, Surface Pro X, Surface Pro 7+, Surface Laptop, Surface Laptop 3, Surface Book 2
As we found in our hands-on testing with the service a couple months ago, an iPhone 8 using the same chipset as the iPhone XR and iPhone XS struggled to maintain a decent level of performance. However, Microsoft could have optimised the service since then, both through the coding of their website and through the Xbox Series X server upgrade. We’ll be trying it out soon.
Microsoft had always planned to upgrade their servers from the original Xbox One S hardware that it launched with, and has spent the last six or more months to fill their server farms with the exact same chipset and hardware that you see in the Xbox Series X itself – this could potentially have fed some of the new console shortages we’ve seen.
Having announced that the upgrade was imminent just before E3 2021, users of Xbox Cloud Gaming spotted a few days ago that the Xbox Series X upgrade was already taking effect. Jumping into Series X|S enhanced games like Gears 5 or Yakuza Like A Dragon brought dramatically faster load times and also exposed some of the performance options in the game settings. Where the Xbox One S servers were limited in frame rate of both game and stream, Xbox Series X should improve the responsiveness of Xbox Cloud Gaming just by running at higher frame rates and reducing latency in the video encoding.