Archive for August 5, 2020

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Microsoft’s xCloud Unavailable on iOS

Hartley Charlton:

Project xCloud is Microsoft’s “vision for game-streaming technology that will complement our console hardware and give gamers more choices in how and where they play.” xCloud will be bundled as part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription for $14.99 per month, with more than 100 games available.

App Store guidelines ban services that rely on streaming games from the cloud. Cloud gaming services, where users stream games live via an internet connection, are growing in popularity.


Steam Link and Sony’s PS4 Remote Play was approved only because the App Store allows remote desktop technology, but it is limited to devices on the same network.

Similar game streaming services Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now are still unavailable on iOS.

Good thing Apple is there to protect us from these…games. One upon a time, Halo made its debut at Macworld Expo. Now, Microsoft is blocked from making it available for Apple’s platform.


Update (2020-08-07): Benjamin Mayo:

Now, let’s assume Apple never released Arcade. This rule is still unsustainable on its own. xCloud and PS Now are going to be popular. xCloud is bundled for free with Game Pass, meaning millions of iPhone owners are going to be frustrated they can’t take advantage of it.


I can’t grasp what the motivation behind the rule is even meant to be. An app that offers a streaming library of music is allowed, like Spotify. An app that offers a streaming library of videos is allowed, like Netflix. What’s different about a streaming library of games?

Jody Sweeton:

They also don’t screen every Citrix, Horizon or Microsoft Remote Desktop app.


And Citrix and Horizon charge user based subscription fees to stream apps that line up with what Microsoft and Google are doing. I am not sure what Apple are worried about. Surely native apps can differentiate against streaming ones.

Nick Statt (Hacker News):

But Apple has finally come out and said, in a statement to Business Insider, that these kinds of cloud services are in violation of App Store guidelines and cannot, in their current forms, ever exist on iOS. The primary reason: they offer access to apps Apple can’t individually review.

Apple then reminds us that customers always have the option of the sweet solution.


Absurd reasoning from Apple since they approved the Steam Link app after requiring Valve remove the ability to purchase games from it. This is a business decision through and through.

Juli Clover:

Microsoft said[…]:

Apple stands alone as the only general purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. And it consistently treats gaming apps differently, applying more lenient rules to non-gaming apps even when they include interactive content.

Peter (via Hacker News):

The upside of a game streaming service is that you don’t need an Xbox or a gaming PC to play them. And you can play on the go. Well, not if you have an Apple device.

Dan Moren:

There’s a lot to unpack there, but let’s just start by noting that the requirement to vet all individual games is, let me be frank, a load of hooey. Apple doesn’t review all the titles available on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or any of the myriad of streaming services that have apps on the App Store. Nor does it check every book title available on the Kindle, Nook, or Kobo apps.

Ryan Jones:

They can’t ship their product. Even if they agreed to pay 30%, Apple wants them to sell GamePass as 100 separate games, that’s ridiculous.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

It’s particularly ironic because Apple already did review all those awful micro-transaction slot machine games that the App Store is packed full of! It’s not like the walled garden is full of roses. It’s full of weeds and thorns. Apple has already failed to be curator-in-chief.

Jared Nelson:

As someone who loves his Xbox and is a big believer in things like Game Pass being the future for gaming, this is incredibly disappointing news. I’ve accepted Apple’s strict and often strange restrictions in a number of situations over the years, whether I agreed with them or not, but this decision is really hitting too close to home. Game Pass is going to be a service I subscribe to for a long time, and being able to play all those Game Pass games via xCloud on my iPhone was a huge selling point to me. It’s even harder to swallow in light of the very enticing partnership Microsoft has announced with Samsung during Samsung’s Unpacked event today which sees the new Galaxy Note 20 devices get a special version of the Game Pass app and a bunch of cool additional features.

Update (2020-08-10): Peter Steinberger:

Is Apple blocking VPN and remote terminals next? They also run apps that Apple can’t approve......

John Gruber:

Running this statement through my Applespeak-to-English decoder ring, what I hear is not that they won’t allow Xbox Game Pass because they can’t review each game separately. What I hear is that game streaming services are not allowed in the iOS App Store. Period, full stop.


The point is that streaming video and music services are allowed in the App Store; streaming software (games or otherwise) is not, unless it works over the web. Apple just doesn’t want to say that.

Ryan Jones:

This is so simple. It’s about owning and controlling.

If GamePass joins and becomes popular, then they don’t own or control gaming on iOS.

They don’t want to compete. And they can’t kill it later after it gets popular.

David Barnard:

The xCloud on iOS situation is a perfect encapsulation of the antitrust argument for and against Apple.


I personally think switching costs are high enough to justify antitrust regulation, but I also think there are ways Apple can side-step the switching cost arguments and reduce the scope/likelihood of regulation.

Web-based app distribution as done on macOS (with a certificate signed by Apple) would be one of the most obvious things Apple could do. And they could even limit certain system-level features like Apple Pay for security and competitive reasons.

This would open a pretty big can of worms (like Microsoft/Steam/Facebook creating their own game stores), but at some point Apple needs to put its big person pants on and figure out how to compete on customer/developer experience, not lock-in.

Update (2020-08-11): Marc Palmer (tweet):

I think the whole Apple and MSFT xCloud spat is not really much about MSFT and games and content review. It’s about preventing alternative app stores, which is a longstanding App Store rule.


Once this kind of cloud streaming of games is allowed, it’s not a stretch to think someone else will do this with other kinds of apps.


We all love to complain about how even very large companies don’t bother making native Mac client apps, so we know this “well we can compromise on X to launch quicker and cheaper” attitude is common.


Update (2020-08-17): See also: Rene Ritchie.

Microsoft’s Catalyst

Tom Warren:

Microsoft is now allowing Windows 10 users to run Android apps side by side with Windows applications on a PC. It’s part of a new feature in Your Phone, and it builds upon the mirroring that Microsoft’s Your Phone app already provides. You can now access a list of Android apps in Microsoft’s Your Phone app and launch these mobile apps accordingly. These will run in a separate window outside of the Your Phone app, mirrored from your phone.

This new Android app support also allows Windows 10 users to multitask with other Windows apps with alt+tab support, and you’ll even be able to pin these Android apps to the Windows 10 taskbar or Start menu.

The apps are still running on your phone, but you can interact with them on your computer.

SoundSource 5

Paul Kafasis:

With version 5, it’s no longer necessary to manage the applications SoundSource keeps in its list. Instead, SoundSource automatically adds applications to its list whenever they produce audio. That way, everything is always ready for you to make any adjustments you desire.

Of course, SoundSource also keeps this list tidy. It removes applications when they stop producing audio, while storing your settings for the future.


These meters also provide a ridiculously handy mute control for anything audio related. With a fast click in the menu bar, you now can mute your microphone or silence a bothersome app.

Making an iOS Default Browser or E-mail Client

Apple (MacRumors):

In iOS 14 and later, users can select an app to be their default web browser or email app. To make your app a choice, confirm that your app meets the requirements below, then request a managed entitlement.


Apps that have the managed entitlement may not claim to respond to Universal Links for specific domains. The system will ignore any such claims. Apps with the entitlement can still open Universal Links to other apps as usual.

Because of their privileged position in a user’s web browsing, browser apps should avoid unnecessary access to personal data. Apps that use any of the following Info.plist keys while using the managed entitlement will be rejected[…]