Google launched Stadia just over one year ago with support for select Android phones and the Chromecast. Google promised iPhone support, but Apple’s App Store policies got in the way. Now, there’s finally a way to play Stadia on iOS — just fire up Safari and go to the Stadia site to use the new progressive web app.
Stadia is a cloud gaming service like the dearly departed OnLive or current competitors like Nvidia GeForce Now and Amazon Luna. That means Google’s servers do all the heavy lifting to render the games, and a video of the game streams to your device. That’s why you can play Cyberpunk 2077 on a Chromecast dongle at 4K — even an RTX 3090 has trouble with that game at 4K.
Apple initially denied all cloud gaming apps but then updated its policies to allow them in the App Store under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, those circumstances would require completely redesigning current game streaming platforms. Apple demanded, among other things, that it gets to review all games before they are available and that each game would get its own page on the App Store.
Google understandably opted to skip the App Store and work on a web app. It promised this just a few weeks ago, and now it’s available. In the Safari browser, you can head to the Stadia site and log in. The site won’t direct you to the app as it does on Android. Instead, you’ll see something akin to the app interface in your browser. Just pick a game and play.
Stadia is now available on iOS devices! Yes, you read that right. Starting today, you can sign into https://t.co/AoYhdVnzGu on your Safari iOS browser and begin playing your favorite games. Try it for yourself today! pic.twitter.com/iQhoAu8NtX
— Stadia (@GoogleStadia) December 16, 2020
Stadia on iOS works with the Stadia controller without any additional tweaking. Simply pair it with your phone inside Stadia, and the controller links directly to the cloud over Wi-Fi. You can also use a Bluetooth controller paired with the phone over Bluetooth.
Google stresses this feature is still experimental, but so is the Stadia app on all but the approved Android phones. It has been my experience that even unsupported phones work as well as the supported ones, so the web app should work as well as it does on Android. Whether or not that experience is objectively good depends on your connection speed. Stadia needs at least 10Mbps to run at 720p, and a full HD stream is closer to 20Mbps. This might seem a bit high, but Stadia needs a little headroom to remain playable — there’s no such thing as buffering in a game that’s rendering live as you play.
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