Xbox Cloud Gaming users rejoice as Apple backtracks on controversial web app policy

Xbox Cloud Gaming on Backbone controller
(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • Apple will no longer disable the installation of Progressive Web Apps on iOS.
  • The tech giant planned to stop supporting the installation of PWAs in the EU, which would have broken some services, such as Xbox Cloud Gaming.
  • Backlash followed Apple's initial announcement, and the company has since backtracked on the change.

Users of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) on iPhones had a bit of a scare recently. Apple planned to stop supporting the installation of PWAs onto iOS, but the company has since changed its stance. That's good news for those who enjoy streaming games through Xbox Cloud Gaming, as a PWA is the best way to use that service on iOS.

"Developers and users who may have been impacted by the removal of Home Screen web apps in the beta release of iOS in the EU can expect the return of the existing functionality for Home Screen web apps with the availability of iOS 17.4 in early March," said Apple.

In what likely does not come as a surprise Apple's support of Progressive Web Apps is not as open as what's seen by competitors. While it is now possible to use third-party browser engines to power Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers, PWAs will use Safari's engine.

The Verge's Tom Warren noted on X (formerly Twitter) that Apple's initial plan to disable web apps on iPhone would have broken Xbox Cloud Gaming and other PWAs. That's no longer the case, and iPhone users can continue streaming games through Xbox Cloud Gaming.

Why isn't there an Xbox Cloud Gaming app on iOS?

Backbone One Controller

(Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

Xbox Cloud Gaming on iOS has had a strange journey that looks like it will continue to involve a web browser rather than a dedicated app. For a long time, Microsoft could not ship a single app that could provide access to multiple games. That limit was due to Apple's policies, though the situation has changed.

Due to the Digital Markets Act, Apple announced a change earlier this year that will allow developers to "submit a single app with the capability to stream all of the games offered in their catalog." Surely, that should pave the way for Xbox Cloud Gaming to have a dedicated app for iPhone and iPad, right? Not exactly.

While it is now possible for Microsoft to release an Xbox Cloud Gaming app or potentially have an Xbox app that includes Xbox Cloud Gaming, the tech giant doesn't appear keen to do so. Apple's move makes it possible to put the app in the App Store, but Apple would take a cut of the profits. Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer said that there isn't a path to monetization with the current setup in an interview with The Verge:

"There's not room for us to monetize Xbox Cloud Gaming on iOS. I think the proposal that Apple put forward—and I thought Sarah Bond's comments on this were right on—doesn't go far enough to open up. In fact, you might even say they go the opposite direction in some way, but they definitely don't go far enough to open up competition on the world's largest gaming platform."

This profit sharing isn't an exclusive problem for Microsoft. Other tech giants battle with Apple regularly about monetization and how much of a cut Apple takes. Specifics, such as if it's okay to advertise other ways to subscribe to a service, have also been a sticking point.

Spencer added in his interview that he prefers how Windows works. That may seem unsurprising given that Spencer's company makes Windows, but the operating system is much more open than Apple's iOS (and all of Apple's other operating systems). It's easy to purchase games through various stores and play them using different launchers. While Microsoft is often criticized for pushing its services and apps through Windows, the company does allow people to install just about anything on a PC.

That leaves iPhone users with a web app for Xbox Cloud Gaming, which isn't the perfect setup but is better than Apple breaking the functionality altogether, which was a possibility.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at