Review: OneCast - Xbox Streaming App

Is this the third-party alternative that Xbox owners who want to stream games to their iOS devices need?

With the advent of streaming gaming services along with the migration of Apple Silicon-powered laptops to run iOS applications, the ability to play high-end, graphically intense games on iOS devices has arrived. PlayStation 4 owners have had the ability to stream their PS4 games to their iPads or iPhones ever since Sony released its free PS4 Remote app. Unfortunately, even though Microsoft has provided Android users the ability to do the same for Xbox owners, iOS users are still waiting for official support. Given the ongoing public battles between Apple and Microsoft on being allowed to stream games via Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass service, Xbox owners wanting to stream games to their iOS devices need a third-party alternative. 

OneCast - Xbox Game Streaming ($11.99) created by talented developer Owen Stanley, is an unofficial Xbox streaming app for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV (and presumably Apple Silicon devices, even though a Mac version of OneCast also exists). The app actually goes beyond the official Android Xbox streaming app from Microsoft, since it overlays a controller on the play screen. This is mainly useful for navigating the streamed Xbox interface and playing turn-based strategy games with minimal precision character placements. The elements of the overlay can also be custom-positioned so that they don't cover critical gameplay elements. Otherwise, iOS users can pair either an MDI-compatible gamepad or a native Xbox One or even PlayStation DualShock controller to their iPhone, iPad or Apple TV for a much easier interactive experience.

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OneCast Title Screen

A Good Wi-Fi Connection Is Essential

The quality of the game stream is dependent on several important factors, the most notable being that your home Wi-Fi router supports a 5 Ghz connection. Most newer Wi-Fi routers do so, but units running the older 2.4 Ghz will simply be too slow to conduct any meaningful streaming experience. Even with the faster Wi-Fi speeds, the Xbox being streamed should ideally be connected via a wired Ethernet connection directly into your Wi-Fi router. I tested using both wireless and wired configurations, and the wired definitely improves the connection quality, since the Xbox and iOS device it's streaming to are not vying for available Wi-Fi bandwidth. Good-quality streams use a considerable amount of bandwidth, so any optimizations made to improve connectivity speed and stability go a long way toward a more enjoyable interactive streaming and playing experience.

OneCast Xbox Screen

Set Up & Go

Once the network requirements have been met, setting up is straightforward. In order for your Xbox to allow itself to be connected to by this third-party app, a permission change must be made on the Xbox. After that's done, OneCast should be able to identify your Xbox and connect to it via your Xbox Live gamertag account login credentials. Pairing the app with my Xbox only took a few seconds. After that, I was able to play anything on my Xbox from my connected iPad. This freedom allowed me to play my Xbox games anywhere I had good Wi-Fi signal in my home (great for getting a few gaming rounds lying in my bed before calling it a night). OneCast essentially turned my iPhone into a Nintendo Switch with a superior screen and better choice of games to play on it.

OneCast Game Screen

Pros

  • Converts an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV into a local Xbox console streaming endpoint
  • Fulfills what Microsoft should have included on the Xbox app for iOS

Cons

  • Requires a fast 5 Ghz wireless and Xbox wired Ethernet connection to consistently work well
  • Even with the stringent network requirements, lag occasionally impacts action gaming

Final Verdict

Gaming via OneCast was mostly a seamless experience, though I did encounter a rare occasional hiccup now and then. Yet that's par for the course when it comes to in-home game streaming, as I've had similar issues with Valve's free Steam Link for PC gaming and even Microsoft's own streaming client for PC and Android.

While it's unfortunate that Microsoft doesn't extend its in-home streaming to officially support iOS devices, OneCast will satisfy for now. And while it's not free like other game-streaming clients and might even be discontinued at some time in the future should Microsoft block its use (highly unlikely), Xbox owners who want to stream their Xbox library of games to their iPad or Apple TV have a stable, easy, and actively supported way of doing so.

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Author Details

Mike Riley's picture

Author Details

Mike Riley

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.