OnLive bringing games, Windows apps to tablets and smartphones


— 11:19 AM on December 8, 2010

The OnLive cloud gaming service is coming to tablets. As GamesBeat reports, an iPad app has already been released, and a beta version for Android devices is coming soon. Don't get too excited about actually playing games, though. The current app is merely a viewer, which means you're limited to living vicariously through others using the service. I suppose that might appeal to voyeurs interested in watching others play games, but OnLive is also promising to let tablet users take a more active role once games are optimized for touch-based input. The current catalog of titles is designed to be played with either a gamepad or a keyboard and mouse, neither of which are easy options for current slates.

Gamers aren't the only ones OnLive is eying with its tablet apps, though. The company has demoed the service running desktop applications in a Windows 7 environment. I'd expect the window to those applications to suffer from the same YouTubesque picture quality that afflicts the service's game catalog, but latency will probably be less of an issue. Dealing with the touch-based interfaces available on modern tablets will remain challenging, as few desktop apps, let alone Windows 7, are optimized for finger taps and swipes.

OnLive isn't stopping at tablets, either. An app for the iPhone and iPod touch is in the works, and with the company bullish on Android's potential, I suspect we'll see other smartphones tapping into the cloud before long. Being able to harness the power of a desktop PC from one's tablet or smartphone is certainly appealing, and I like the idea of playing games on OnLive's servers. However, if I'm going to dip into standard desktop applications, odds are I'm going to want to access the ones living on my own PC rather than using whatever generic Windows environment OnLive cooks up for its users.

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