Stadium browser returns to bring Stadia to iOS again for now

While Apple continues to ban streaming game services from settling on iPhones and iPads, some are finding ways around these limitations. A rather ingenious attempt to bring Google Stadia to iOS was, as expected, short-lived. Stadium, that browser-based workaround, was removed from the App Store last month after being available there for a month. Now the Stadium is back, but in a slightly different way and with an important limitation.

Apple’s objection to game streaming services like Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud is, at least in principle, based on the security, privacy and security risks it poses for Apple customers. In practice, this means that Apple would have very little control over what is sold or offered on these third-party platforms, let alone charge them some juicy taxes. It is no surprise that Apple’s proposed commitment would be to force game streaming platforms to submit all games for approval, as well as regular iOS apps and games.

The unofficial workaround for Stadium’s Web browser was to mask itself as a browser that is officially compatible with Stadia and run it in full screen, with no distracting browser UI. Apple removed it for violating an app store policy not directly related to game streaming. Instead, the sin was to connect iOS’s GameController APIs with WebKit, something that was not prescribed by Apple.

Stadium 1.2 corrects this by introducing a feature that replaces the browser’s User Agent to circumvent this policy. The rest of the browser works as before, which means that you must use a special authentication step to log in to Stadia. This workaround, however, has an unfortunate consequence. Only the Stadia Controller is guaranteed to function.

More than that, the Stadia Controller will only work if the gamepad and the iPhone or iPad are on the same wi-fi network. Bluetooth controllers may work, but it’s a hit or miss situation given iOS’s own unreliable support for third-party controllers. It remains to be seen, however, how long this workaround will last until Apple finds other reasons to remove Stadium again.

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