Today Apple announced some massive changes coming to the iOS operating system, with the most significant stuff applying only to those in the EU in order to comply with regulations there, but also some interesting things coming to iOS users worldwide. Most significant to our interests here at TouchArcade, being that we’re based in the US and focused on mobile gaming, is that Apple has finally decided to allow game streaming apps into the App Store across the globe.
You may recall that back in 2018 Microsoft announced their intentions to bring a portion of the Game Pass catalog to users basically anywhere via a new cloud streaming service, called Project xCloud at the time. Later it was revealed that Apple would not allow Microsoft to release a standalone app with access to a library of streaming games like that, as it violated App Store guidelines.
So instead Android users got to benefit from the Project xCloud service for a long time first, until around the spring of 2021 when Microsoft decided to offer the service, now rebranded as Xbox Cloud Gaming, to iOS users via a web app that ran in Safari. It certainly wasn’t the best solution, but it was something, and honestly Xbox Cloud Gaming runs pretty well through that web app and it feels in many ways close to a native app experience. But… it’s NOT a native app experience, and I imagine it would be a whole lot better if it was, and now it looks like it will be thanks to Apple relaxing the regulations around game streaming apps.
Of course, the bigger news, and the one getting all the headline space following Apple’s announcements this morning, is that the iPhone maker is gearing up to allow third-party app stores on iOS, among many other changes, in order to comply with the EU’s Digital Markets Act or DMA. If you read the announcement itself you’ll see that Apple is very begrudgingly making these changes, and takes every opportunity it can to remind those reading what a bad idea the DMA is for security and privacy. Maybe they’re right? I don’t live in the EU and don’t follow this sort of thing closely enough to really comment, but I would be interested to see if this will be the first domino falling in what will lead to iOS allowing alternative app stores across the globe. So far Apple says they have zero plans of doing such a thing.
Be sure to check out our sister site Macrumors for much more info on all the non-gaming related changes coming to iOS in the EU, including allowing non-WebKit default browsers, opening up the iPhone’s NFC capabilities to 3rd-party apps, changes to the percentages Apple collects from apps sold in the App Store, and more. I’m hoping it won’t be long at all before we see the Xbox Game Pass app or the GeForce Now app updated with native game streaming functionality, as that’s what I’m looking forward to most out of all this news coming out of Apple today.