Browser-based Xbox Cloud Gaming leaves the limited beta it's been in since the end of April and formally rolls out an open beta for iPhone, iPad and Windows 10 (or Windows 11!) PCs, Microsoft announced Monday.
At the same time, the Backbone One -- my favorite of the iPhone controllers that mimic the physical experience of the Nintendo Switch, such as the Razer Kishi -- joins the Designed for Xbox program, with specific features designed to make you feel more like you're playing on an Xbox or standalone device.
Read more: Xbox Cloud Gaming beta hands-on: How to play Xbox games on your iPad or laptop
Xbox Cloud Gaming, nee Project xCloud, lets you play a subset of Xbox Game Pass games on a device other than a console by streaming them from the cloud, a la Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now. It, like others, follows Amazon Luna's lead of using a web app to circumvent Apple's App Store policies, which effectively shut out cloud gaming apps. For Windows PCs, it lets you play games your system might not otherwise have the power or space to run locally via Game Pass for PC.
The Backbone One will come with three free months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (saving $1 over Microsoft's own current promo of three months for $1).
The Backbone One gamepad uses a layout similar to, though slightly different from, that of Microsoft's own Xbox controllers. But Backbone's software is one of the keys to its success, and which makes the controller an easy update for current owners to get the new features. It's compatible with all iPhones running iOS 13 or later.
For instance, it already has a dedicated gameplay capture button, it can tag gameplay and share as a link, incorporates a dynamic feed, and because it's designed for use with all mobile games, can serve as a central hub for those titles.