Microsoft begins Xbox Console Streaming previews

Earlier this month, Microsoft launched the beta testing for it's Project xCloud, a cloud-based game streaming service. On Wednesday, the company revealed that all UK and US-based Xbox beta testers in the Alpha and Alpha Skip-Ahead programs would be able to preview their Console Streaming feature, which allows you to play Xbox games on your Android device. 

Console Streaming might sound similar to the Project xCloud, but while xCloud presently only streams 4 games, Console Streaming converts your Xbox One console into a streaming server, giving you access to your entire game library on the go. Jonathan Hildebrandt, Principal Program Manager at Xbox, said, “We set out on this vision for game streaming earlier this month by beginning the public preview of Project xCloud, allowing you to play games directly from the cloud. And now we’re delivering on our second streaming option by kicking off the preview of Console Streaming so you can remotely play your full Xbox One library from your own Xbox.” 

Console Streaming has more hardware requirements than the Cloud service but offers more versatility. To be able to stream, users will need a smartphone or tablet with Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) or higher and supports Bluetooth 4.0, as well as Xbox's Bluetooth,  enabled Wireless Controller.  Microsoft also recommends an open or moderate NAT type, an Internet connection with an upload speed of at least 4.75Mb per second (with 9 Mbps preferred), network latency of 125 ms or less (60 ms or less preferred) and the console to be set to instant-on in the power options. 

As the service operates using your Xbox to render and stream games, the console can be switched on remotely when you're outdoors. The necessity of carrying around the controller might not appeal to some, but outdoor usability gives Xbox One users a lot more to look forward to, as they can now play anything from their games library while commuting, at a coffee shop, or during breaks at work and school. Xbox 360 titles and iOS devices are, however, not supported as of now, although future support for the former has been announced. 

Microsoft's Xbox Console Streaming seems to be positioned as a direct competitor to Sony's PS4 Remote Play, which functions in exactly the same way. The service also seems to be an alternative to Nintendo's Switch, with its similar capabilities of offering playable console titles on the go. However, with the imminent release Sony and Xbox's streaming services, and Google's Stadia on the horizon, it looks like game streaming, not handheld consoles, are the future. 

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