Google Stadia finally makes its way to iOS via web app
Google Stadia subscribers can finally officially access the service on their iPhone or iPad — although the experience isn’t quite as seamless as it is on Android. That’s because due to Apple’s App Store restrictions, users are required to go through the Safari web browser and not a dedicated app.
Apple’s App Store has strict restrictions on monetization and how cloud gaming apps can be distributed, preventing companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon from releasing their apps on iOS in the same manner as they’re available on Android. That means that Stadia can only run in Safari or by adding a home screen shortcut, which installs the page as a progressive web app.
Google said that Stadia on iOS is still in development, but it’s a start. “Some Stadia features may not be available on iOS, or may not function properly.”
Many see Apple’s restrictions as user-hostile and anti-competitive, especially when Apple offers its own game service for mobile titles. The difference is Apple lets users download these games rather than stream them from the cloud. It’s unfortunate, and there’s no indication Apple will ever compromise and let services like Stadia, xCloud, or Luna live in their intended forms on the App Store. Apple has proposed that each service split up their catalogs into multiple independent App Store listings, which means users would have to install a separate app for every game they wanted to play.
The arrival of Stadia on iOS through Safari comes at a time when Google’s service is beginning to take a foothold in the game streaming market. After a shaky launch, the service has become a great alternative to console gaming, offering AAA titles like Destiny 2 and Cyberpunk 2077, the latter of which provides users with an experience that’s superior to what’s available on last-generation consoles.
With a $9.99 monthly subscription, customers can stream certain titles for free and get discounts on titles and stream them to their phone, tablet, or computer. A subscription isn’t fully required, however, to enjoy the catalog of games available on Stadia. On the iPhone and iPad, you can play games with built-in touch controls, but you won’t get the full experience until you connect a Stadia controller or a Bluetooth gamepad.
iPhone owners might not find Stadia to be the most compelling experience on such a small screen. But on the iPad, it’s a different story. You might not use an iOS device as your preferred way to play Cyberpunk 2077, but it sure is cool that’s even possible in the first place.
To add a web shortcut to Stadia on your iPhone or iPad’s home screen, launch the Safari app and then navigate to stadia.com. Once you’re signed in, hit the Share icon and “Add to home screen.” Google said iOS users will need to be updated to iOS 14.3, which was released earlier this week.
Until Apple adopts a more sensible policy towards cloud gaming services, this is the next best option.