A big draw for video game streaming services is the ability to play on any device, any time. There’s just one problem: many of them aren’t available on iOS. (Not without a fan-made workaround, anyway.) Thankfully, that period of incompatibility is coming to an end. Starting today, you can play any Google Stadia game on an iPhone or iPad. The service is accessible through Chrome, Safari or a progressive web app (PWA). If you want to use the latter, simply open Stadia in Safari (https://stadia.google.com), hit the Share shortcut and then select ‘Add to Home Screen.’ You’ll then have an ‘app’ that functions almost identically to the native Android application.
I have few complaints with Google’s approach and implementation. Yes, a native app would be preferable, but it’s impossible to deliver in a way that would make players and service providers happy. (Apple’s policy states that all streamable games must be listed individually in the App Store.) For now, all of Google’s competitors, including Microsoft and NVIDIA, are circumventing the App Store and operating through the browser instead.
My only nitpicks are the Apple-centric UI elements that occasionally hang around. If you’re accessing Stadia via the browser, you’ll see the iOS status bar — the one that shows the time, connectivity and remaining charge on your device — and browser URL field while navigating the store and homepage. When you launch a game, it goes ‘full screen’ and the browser UI disappears. In my pre-release testing, however, the status bar was strangely stubborn. It would occasionally disappear on my iPad Pro, but most of the time it stayed visible at the top of the display. Not a deal-breaker, but a tad annoying, especially when you’re trying to immerse yourself in a game like Cyberpunk 2077 or Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
I asked Google whether there was a hidden toggle in the settings, or any plans to hide these system-level UI elements. A spokesperson merely said that I was part of “the first phase of iOS testing” and that the team would “continue to update the iOS experience with user feedback.” Notably, the fan-made Stadium app doesn’t have this problem. For now, therefore, I’ll be sticking with the unofficial client developed by Zachary Knox. But if Google can fix this tiny issue, I’ll be adopting its PWA full-time. Stadia’s debut on iOS is generally a strong one and leaves me excited for xCloud next year. These two, along with NVIDIA’s GeForce Now, will make the iPhone and iPad an even more capable and versatile hardware duo.
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