Stadia’s “Phone Link” turns your smartphone into a Stadia controller
Google Stadia has announced a new feature called “Phone Link”. When Stadia first came out, the only controller that you could use for a long time was the Google Stadia controller. Later came support for third-party controllers like an Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo Switch controller, or touch controls when playing on your smartphone. Phone Link lets you use your phone’s display as a touch gamepad to play Stadia Games on any TV endpoint for Stadia — be it Chromecast Ultra, Android TV, or Chromecast with Google TV.
Another big part of Phone Link (via 9to5Google) is that you can use your smartphone not as a touch controller itself, but as a bridge to connect unsupported controllers to your TV for playing. You can plug in a lot of older controllers when playing on a computer, but if you’re on a TV, then you’re out of luck unless you’re using the official Stadia Controller. With Phone Link, you can connect third-party controllers to your smartphone that can’t connect via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and then have those controllers work when playing on your TV.
As 9to5Google notes, it’s a rather simplistic process. Connect a controller to your smartphone, click the “controller” icon in the Stadia app, and you can tan tap the “phone touch gamepad” to launch a menu confirming you’re using your phone as a controller. You’ll get a pairing code from your Stadia instance that, when entered into your smartphone, will connect you if you’re on the same Wi-Fi network. Once a controller is connected, the on-screen controls disappear and are instead replaced with a “playing on TV” warning screen.
One of the most useful things that this feature can be used for is multiple controllers in couch co-op games. You mightn’t have enough controllers for multiplayer, but with Stadia’s Phone Link, anyone can have a controller so long as they have their smartphone. You can also use any wired controllers so long as you have a USB-C to USB-A adapter, though your mileage may vary. Phone Link is beginning to roll out to Stadia users from today.