We will soon be able to play remotely with an Xbox console simply using the smartphone's touch screen, without the need for a Bluetooth controller as was the case previously: the Redmond giant has updated the official Xbox app for Android and iOS in the last few hours, in beta form, implementing a sort of virtual controller superimposed on the screen showing the console interface.
To recap: Microsoft has been allowing you to mirror the console on your smartphone for some time. You use your smartphone as a “wireless monitor” for the Xbox to play wherever you want, as long as you are in the same local network; but until now you needed to use a Bluetooth gamepad to control the game.
The use of a controller not only adds latency to a system that is already inevitably less reactive by nature but forces you to have another gadget at hand. It is clear that the gamepad remains the ideal solution for a well-structured and planned game/session, but the touch screen is a fantastic option to have in case of a gaming “emergency”, perhaps for an “on the fly” check of some passive progress /timer.
After all, touch gaming on smartphones remains a highly appreciated solution, regardless of the game being played. Research by Microsoft itself from a couple of years ago highlighted that 20% of Cloud Gaming users use touch exclusively.
And they are not an absolute novelty for Microsoft either: not only has it implemented them in a large number of its games, but it also offers them to users who play with Surface Duos, for a setup that vaguely resembles foldable portable consoles such as the glorious Nintendo DS.