Microsoft’s Xbox mobile apps will soon let you remote play with just touch controls

Xbox touch controls
Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

Microsoft is adding touch controls to its Xbox apps for iOS and Android devices. The software maker started testing the touch controls in beta versions of the Xbox mobile apps this week, allowing Xbox owners to remotely control their consoles and play games on phones and tablets without a Bluetooth controller.

The touch controls are identical to the ones found on Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming service, providing an on-screen overlay to let you remotely navigate around the Xbox UI and open up games and stream them all from your own console without needing to use a controller.

Screenshot by Tom Warren / The Verge
The Xbox touch controls work on any game.

The touch controls are surprisingly good in a pinch, especially as previously you had to use a Bluetooth controller for this remote play experience. Obviously a dedicated controller will still be a far better experience. That said, Microsoft did reveal a couple of years ago that 20 percent of Xbox Cloud Gaming players only use touch controls. Microsoft has been adding custom Xbox touch controls to hundreds of Xbox games, and they’ve been particularly popular in titles like Hades, Minecraft Dungeons, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon in the past.

Microsoft has also been using Xbox touch controls for its dual-screen Surface Duo handset, which looks more like a Nintendo 3DS running Xbox games when the controls are enabled. That was limited to the small amount of people who purchased a Surface Duo, so it’s good to see that millions more will now have access to Xbox touch controls on Android and iOS devices. Now that Microsoft is clear to make a dedicated Xbox Cloud Gaming app for iOS, we’re bound to see them there, too.