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Xbox Project xCloud on iPad is my dream come true, but it's just a start

Xcloud Ipad
Xcloud Ipad (Image credit: Dan Thorp-Lancaster/Windows Central)

Xcloud Ipad

Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster/Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster/Windows Central)

Ever since it was announced, I've been excited about the promise of Xbox's Project xCloud game streaming platform. I made the switch from a primarily PC gamer to Xbox around 2014, and the idea of tapping into my lengthy backlog no matter where I am is tantalizing. However, even as Microsoft began testing xCloud on Android in 2019, I was left wanting for what I see as my perfect xCloud platform: iPad.

This week, my wish was granted: Microsoft began accepting iOS testers for xCloud. There are a fair few caveats with the start of testing on iPhone and iPad, however. The biggest glaring issue is that, at least for now, there's only one game available — Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Microsoft says this limitation is due to an App Store policy, which makes sense; Apple is notoriously finicky with its App Store rules. Unlike on Android, the iOS preview is strictly limited to 10,000 users through Apple's TestFlight program as well. Finally, Microsoft limited this initial preview to just the U.S., UK, and Canada.

The iPad represents my perfect platform for mobile gaming.

Despite all of the restrictions, Microsoft says it quickly filled spots for the preview program, and it's not hard to see why. While Android phones outnumber Apple's worldwide, iPhones and iPads have a massive presence in western countries. There was bound to be a pent up desire for xCloud on the Venn Diagram of Xbox fans who have an iPad or iPhone.

As for the iPad experience, it's been as fun as I expected, and framerates feel suitably smooth (around 30 fps if I had to guess), but there's still a long way to go. I've been in the xCloud beta on Android since shortly after it launched, and the iOS program feels just as polished. There are some of the same minor streaming hiccups as well, but it's a fun experience overall.

However, no matter how much I like setting my iPad up wherever and getting some gaming in, there's no doubt that Microsoft is going to have to expand the number of games available on iOS soon if it wants to hold testers' attention. It's not that I hate Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Rather, I had my fill of the game a long time ago.

Still, the iPad represents the perfect platform for mobile gaming for me, and I'm excited to finally be able to get some quick gameplay in on the go. The screen on my iPad Pro is the perfect size for a personal little gaming display, it's easy to carry around in a backpack, and I don't have to fumble with any cumbersome phone clips on my controller. It's a happy medium between the big screen in my living room and the one in my pocket.

So what's the platform I have my eye on next? Windows. Let's get it going, Microsoft.

Xbox Game Streaming


Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to

  • I think I just threw up in my mouth...
  • I know how you feel.
  • Lol, dam that's harsh but I agree!
  • I totally agree. People treat these apple slabs like they're something special. They're not.
  • You didn't even read it did you? What should he do? Go out and buy a different fucking device? People like you who are negative for the sake of negative really suck the fun out of life.
  • Exactly. How DARE Microsoft support THE most popular tablet on the planet.
  • I used to think the same way and then got an iPad. It is a great device. Fast, good sound, all the apps, great display and good battery life. Microsoft would be foolish not to have xCloud on iDevices
  • Ugh I can’t wait to play on the iPad. I can’t stand being stuck using my old pixel 2xl. It’s way to small. I’m perfectly happy with master chief collections that’s like 6 games all in one. I hope they approve my request to switch to the iOS insider program soon!
  • Sooooo this isn't on Surface Pro X, Surface Pro 7 etc....? Why! Smh 🤦🏾‍♂️
  • It will be, calm down
  • But he wants to rage now!
  • Perfectly valid request. This should come to PC first, it should be the easiest platform. It's not fun to be always relegated by Microsoft if you have a PC.
  • How entitled do you have to be in order to complain about a completely free service in preview?
  • No but many popular xbox games area already playable on the PC, not only that but you can stream your xbox games to the PC. I totally understand this being the last device system to get something meant for mobile setups.
  • Yeah, I agree. If you look at most Xbox advertisements, you'll see Windows 10 right next to it. Windows 10 users have had some of the same access that XCloud subscribers are only now getting. Every move MSFT does is well calculated. I don't feel the need for XCloud as I own two Xbox's and a Surface Pro 6, so I don't really have a need for it, unless I want to play it on my phone. What I'm interested in is how XCloud will work with the Neo and Duo.
  • Well you can't play outside the home those Xbox games and you have to actually download those Xbox games on your PC which takes up alot of storage. With the phone it's streaming. So that's a big difference.
  • First World problems, people. This guy's got some serious First World problems, we need a donation tin, stat.
  • This is all great...but, I will feel again like a low level human being only because I live in Croatia.
    If I don't have a friend in Austria, I wouldn't be able to have Surface Laptop 3 today...
  • This must have been how General Washington felt when Benedict Arnold betrayed the Colonial Army.
  • Everybody needs to settle the **** down.
  • I'm surprised Apple would even allow a single XCloud game to be on the same devices as their own (snicker) gaming subscripion plan...
  • Yeah, because a subscription service with over a hundred exclusive games is terrible, right? As an aside, Apple Arcade and xCloud are different things, Apple Arcade is comparable to Game Pass.
  • I'm not excited at all for any cloud game streaming. When I'm at home I have a proper gaming device. When I'm on the go, the internet is horrible. Just like with the Google streaming, and the many game streaming services before it, who is there s actually useful for?