Stream Xbox Games To Your Phone Or Tablet
For on-the-go Xbox gaming, download the Xbox app for your Android or iOS device, sign in, and connect a controller to your phone. An Xbox One controller will do nicely, especially paired with a foldable clip, though you can also use mobile controllers designed for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices like the Gamevice.
From the Xbox app on your phone or tablet, tap the Connection icon in the upper-right cornerit’s the one that looks like an Xbox with radio waves coming out of it . Tap the console in question, then choose Remote Play on This Device to start a remote session. Remember, the closer you are to the router, the better your experience will be over Wi-Fi.
Note that the Series X may have one or two quirks at this time as well, though in my experience it can vary from game to game. Forza Horizon 4, for example, currently has a bug when streaming from the the Series X where moving the joystick also presses the corresponding D-Pad button. Other users report audio crackling when streaming with the latest Xboxes.
While it is now physically possible to stream from your new console to a mobile device, it hasnt been perfected yet. Hopefully, Microsoft and developers will continue to improve the experience as they roll out more streaming support for the Series X and S.
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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more…
Xbox One games can be massive in size, and take hours to download. Rather than waiting for games to download when youre ready to play them, you can remotely start game downloads on your Xbox One from a smartphone or web browser. Theyll automatically download to your Xbox and be ready when you get home, so you can play them instantly.
This only works with digital games. If you have a physical game, you have to insert it into your Xbox Ones disc drive before the console will begin installing it and downloading any necessary updates.
What You Need To Know
- Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership $1 for the first month, $14.99/month after that
- iPhone/iPad running iOS 14.4/iPadOS 14.4 or later
- Bluetooth 4.0 or later
- iPad Air 3rd and 4th Gen
- iPad Pro 11 2nd Gen and above
- iPad 8th Gen
- Currently, in its Beta version, Xbox Cloud Gaming is available in limited regions. Check the status of your location.
- Only supports one account and controller at a time.
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How To Configure Your Xbox One For Remote Game Downloads
This will only work if your Xbox One is suspended and set to automatically downloaded game updates and stay in Instant-on mode. These are the default settings, so everything should just work. However, if youve modified these settings in the past, you may need to re-enable them.
If youre away from your Xbox One at the moment, feel free to skip this section and just try using the app or website to download a game. It will work if you havent modified these default settings in the past.
First, head to Settings > All Settings > System > Updates. Ensure the Keep my games & apps up to date setting is enabled here. If it isnt, your Xbox One wont download new games or updates automatically.
Second, head to Settings > All Settings > Power & startup > Power mode & startup. Ensure your Xbox One is set to Instant-on power mode. This means the Xbox One will go into a sort of sleep mode where some functions remain active, including background downloads of games and updates. Dont set it to Energy-saving mode or it will shut down completely, and you wont be able to use the remote game download feature.
You should also ensure that youve signed into the Xbox One with the Microsoft account you plan on using on your phone. You can check this from Settings > All Settings > Sign-in, security & passkey.
Cloud Gaming With Xbox Pass Ultimate
Once its officially launched, one way you can enjoy Xbox Remote Play is through cloud gaming. For this, youll need the Xbox Game Pass app and an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, which costs $1 in the first month and $14.99 per month afterward. With an Ultimate subscription, you dont need to have a game installed on your Xbox console to play it you can play any game available with Game Pass, including Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Gears 5, and Destiny 2. On top of that, you get Xbox Live Gold and EA Play.
However, not everyone can enjoy cloud gaming with Xbox just yet. Currently, iOS devices dont support cloud gaming, so youll need an Android device to enjoy this service.
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Setting Up Xbox Cloud Gaming
To set up cloud gaming for Xbox, youll need to first sign up for a Game Pass Ultimate subscription, which costs $1 on the first month and $14.99 on every succeeding month. Then, download the Xbox Game Pass app from the Google Play Store or the Samsung Galaxy Store. Youll see two versions of this app: one that has a green backdrop and the other that has a white backdrop . Youll want to download the one with the green backdrop because this is the more stable version.
After all thats done, pair your Bluetooth-enabled controller with your smartphone, and youre all set to stream Xbox games from the cloud.
Xbox Cloud Gaming Requirements
Most mobile devices are capable of streaming Xbox games. You simply need to be on a device that supports Android 6.0 or later or iOS 14.4 or later. You can check out a list of confirmed compatible Android and iOS devices on the Xbox Insiders subreddit. We’d recommend the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate, because they both have large screens that are ideal for gaming.
What really matters here is your internet connection. Microsoft recommends using 5GHz Wi-Fi networks, as Xbox Cloud Gaming isn’t optimized for 2.4GHz networks just yet. On Android, you need a 7Mbps speed or better, whereas on iOS Microsoft recommends 10Mbps or better . You also need Bluetooth 4.0 or later on both Android and iOS devices.
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Pair Your Controller To Your Iphone Or Ipad
Your iPhone or iPad is now paired to your Xbox controller. If you are having trouble connecting, take a look at our extensive guide on the matter.
How To Use Xbox Game Pass On Your Android Device
If you use your Android device for gaming, then it may help you to know how to use Xbox Game Pass on Android.
After spending some time in beta as xCloud, Microsoft finally released Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming on Android. This lets you play a range of Xbox titles on your smartphone, and you don’t even need a console or PC to do so. Making it an excellent entry point to gaming.
As long as you have an Android smartphone or tablet, a Game Pass Ultimate subscription, and a decent internet connection, youll be able to enjoy everything Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming has to offer.
In this article, we explain how to get Xbox Game Pass up and running on your Android device.
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Boot The App And Launch A Game
Once youre signed in with your Microsoft account, youll should tap or select the cloud option beneath the top section of the app where it shows a highlighted game.
After thats selected, every game you see below should be eligible for you to play right from your phone or tablet. Go ahead and click one, then hit Play on the next screen as seen below. Itll take a few moments for your device to boot into the game, but once it does, your save data will automatically sync with your progress on your Xbox One and PC, if youve already started the game there.
Update, September 15th: Added more context now that xCloud has officially launched today.
Prepping Your Xbox Series X/s
There is one setting on your Xbox Series X or S that youll need to switch on in order to do anything remote with the console. This setting is called, quite fittingly, Enable Remote Features, and it will allow you to connect to your console via your phone.
To turn this on, go to your Xboxs settings app and find the Devices & Connections menu. From there, find the Remote Features submenu. You will need to enter your six-digit passkey if you have the security feature enabled.
From this menu, youll see a description of the remote features, which include the ability to install new games, among other things. Press X on your controller with this option highlighted to turn it on. A checkmark will appear in the box when its enabled.
While youre in this menu, go to the option on the side that says Power Mode and switch it to Instant-On. If this option isnt enabled, remote features wont work. This feature essentially lets your Xbox Series X or S function even if youre not present to turn it on.
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Important Notes On Game Streaming
Now that you know how to play Xbox video games on a phone, here are a few things to keep in mind before you dive into the vast catalog of Game Pass titles.
First of all, cloud streaming is still not available worldwide. Unlike consoles and even Game Pass, Microsoft is yet to open up streaming to a broader audience. Visit the list of currently supported countries to check whether cloud streaming is available in your region or the country youre planning to travel to. You may need to get a good VPN for your phone if the service isnt available where you live.
It should go without saying, but when you stream Xbox games on the phone, you can quickly spend your entire monthly mobile plan. Unlike Netflix, the stream both receives and sends the data at a high refresh rate.
Lastly, the platform is still in beta, according to Microsoft. There are still some unironed kinks here and there, so you may run it some stuttering, lose your connection, or the app can even crash. Microsoft is constantly improving the app, so all the problems we ran into may very well be gone by the time your read this. In any case, its a great way to play Xbox games remotely, especially since you dont even need to own any dedicated gaming hardware.
Xbox Cloud Gaming Is Better With Controllers
Many of the games included with Xbox Cloud Gaming support touch controls. Make sure to check the thumbnail for each game, as titles that support touch controls will be accompanied by an icon of a finger. But you will likely want a controller to play most games, either because they don’t support touch or are just too demanding to be played effectively without one. A standard Xbox wireless controller can be connected to your phone via Bluetooth , but there are other dedicated options like the Backbone for iOS and the Razer Kishi for Android and iOS that turn your phone into a Switch-like device. For more great picks, check out our list of the best controllers for mobile gaming.
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Getting Started With Xbox Game Pass
In order to stream Xbox games, you will need a subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. If you’re unfamiliar with the service, Xbox Game Pass is Microsofts take on a Netflix-like model for games. You pay one monthly price and gain access to hundreds of games at no additional cost. Game Pass is available for console and PC. By subscribing to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, you get the full catalog of games across PC and console, including all of Microsofts first-party releases on launch day a host of EA games like the Mass Effect trilogy, Dead Space, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order through EA Play and the ability to stream many of these games to your phone through Xbox Cloud Gaming. In short, its a lot of game for your buck, and the ability to play via streaming is one of the best perks.
Plus, Game Pass subscribers who opt to purchase a game while it’s available on the service get a discount. However, there is no way to purchase streaming access to a game. If the game leaves Game Pass, you can no longer stream it on your phone.
Its important to note that purchasing an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription is the only way to gain access to Xbox Cloud Gaming. You cannot subscribe to Xbox Cloud Gaming separately.
Unique Option: Surface Duo
Thanks to a deluge of price drops, the Surface Duo might actually be a contender in the Xbox Game Pass space now, for a single good reason: foldability!
The Surface Duo, as a phone, has a ton of problems. The software isn’t particularly great, the camera is poor, and the battery life is average at best. Where the Duo shines, however, is in its unique form factor. Two fully reversible displays make up the Surface Duo, and thanks to a unique feature for owners, Xbox Game Pass cloud players can turn it into a Nintendo 3DS-like experience with a touch gamepad, right on the lower screen.
This is awesome for several reasons. Number one, you don’t need to carry around an additional controller. Two, the touch controls don’t obscure the actual game with their overlays. And three, the display also lets you put it into an upright tent mode, ideal for connecting a controller if you want more tactility.
The main downsides here are the lack of 5G, the general phone experience, and, well, the price. It’s still a pretty expensive boi, despite several price drops in the U.S. and other territories. However, despite the issues, there’s something a bit magical about this option. If you fancy yourself a bit of an early adopter, you could consider this one instead of the more tried-and-tested options above.
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It’s Not Time To Toss Your Console Yet
While it’s great to see more games available in more places, testing the Xbox Cloud Gaming beta also reminded me that we’re not quite there yet on game streaming. On both iPads and PCs, performance was often stuttery and slow, the visuals would break up into digital noise and my controller inputs felt thrown off by too much delay. Even with a solid internet connection, the experience varied wildly. The most disappointing thing is just how much loading screen wait time there was within games. It often felt slower to load game levels than playing locally.
In other words, the same problems you can have with GeForce Now, Stadia or other cloud gaming services. At their best, you can forget you’re not playing on a gaming PC or console. But the consistency of experience isn’t there yet, especially for twitch-based games like first-person shooters or competitive esports games.
Which Is The Best Option For Me
If youve already got an Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S and youre not interested in playing retro Xbox games or online PC games, the Xbox app is probably the best option for you. Its also the most simple option to set up plus its the only option if youve got an iPhone.
For those that want to play Xbox classics and PC games as well as current Xbox games, the cloud may be worth trying. If you havent got an Xbox, it could be cheaper than buying a console while the Game Pass Ultimate will cost you $14.99 per month, it will take you years before you make up the cost of a Xbox Series X/S. Just remember that you need an Android device in order to pursue this option.
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How To Tell If Your Xbox Controller Is Bluetooth Ready
Plastic around the Xbox button is connected to the main body of the controller
Xbox Wireless Controllers accompanying the Xbox Series X and Xbox One X, Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, or Xbox Design Lab controller.
Plastic surrounding the Xbox button continues around the top of the controller
Original controller accompanying the Xbox One console or the original Xbox Elite Wireless Controller