The best console shooter of all time is now free on iPhones
Microsoft's xCloud service is expanding to iOS. Here's how to sign up for the beta.
Have you ever wanted to take on the Covenant on your iPhone? Now you can, if you're one of the lucky 10,000 invited to do so. On Wednesday, Microsoft expanded the beta for its game streaming service xCloud for iOS devices. Previously only available for Android users, Microsoft is now letting those with iPhones and iPads to give Xbox game streaming a whirl.
If you're lucky, you're probably already playing Halo (and only Halo — more on that in a bit) on your iPhone. For everyone else, you're not and getting serious FOMO. Fret not. Here's how you can get started with xCloud as an iOS user, along with a quick checklist of what you'll need and exactly what to expect.
Keep in mind that xCloud on iOS is being rolled out to 10,000 users (for now). So even if you successfully have and do everything we explain below, you probably still won't get to play for some time. Still, might as well shoot your shot.
Wait, what is xCloud?
xCloud is Microsoft's experimental game streaming service that will allow users to play Xbox games on any compatible device using an internet connection. No discs, no downloads (for the most part). Like a Netflix for Xbox, you can simply access the games you want to play via the cloud and play wherever you are.
On its main website, Microsoft is touting two ways to enjoy xCloud.
- Stream from the cloud — xCloud's main feature is playing games through Microsoft's xCloud service, much like Netflix or Hulu but for games. At the moment, Microsoft has a selection of 50-ish games, including big ones like Devil May Cry 5, Destiny 2, Forza Horizon 4, Gears 5, Tekken 7, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
- Stream from your console — If you have games downloaded on your Xbox One's hard drive, you can also stream those games via xCloud.
The service is still in beta and not a final product. In fact, Microsoft rolled it out for public testing precisely so it can fine-tune hiccups that users encounter in their time playing it.
What you need
First, here's a quick rundown of what you'll need in order to join xCloud.
- iPhone or iPad running iOS 13.0 or greater and Bluetooth 4.0
- An active Microsoft account with an active Xbox Live subscription
- An Xbox One controller that supports Bluetooth. To check if your controller is Bluetooth enabled, Microsoft has a helpful guide here.
- Access to decent wi-fi. Microsoft says 10 Mbps-down bandwidth and 5Ghz connection.
- If you're playing on a phone, Microsoft recommends picking up this "Mobile Gaming Clip" from PowerA for $15.
Now that's settled, here's what you need to do to sign up.
How to sign up for xCloud
- Visit this page.
- Enter your appropriate information.
- Wait! Microsoft will email you when you're granted access to the beta. Monitor your emails from now on. You might get an email today, you might get it tomorrow, you might get it months from now.
- That email will contain a download for the TestFlight app for your iOS device. This is how you'll play xCloud on iPhones and iPads, via a specific app released by Microsoft. The app is not available on the App Store. The two official Xbox apps, Xbox and Xbox Game Pass, are not for xCloud.
- Sign in with your Microsoft account and start playing.
What can I play?
Unfortunately, as Xbox's Larry Hryb explained in a blog post, the only game available to play on xCloud for iOS at the moment is Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
But that ain't a bad thing. Released in 2014, The Master Chief Collection is a package of the first four games in the epic Halo saga, plus spin-off games Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach. That's five and a half games for almost nothing! And on your iPhone!
Even cooler is that the collection comes with a remastered version of Halo 2 with updated cutscenes and overhauled visuals. So it won't feel like you're stuck in 2004 when you play that one. Because you're streaming, baby. You're in the future!