OnLive's cloud gaming service has finally come to tablets and smartphones. Released first for the PC and then on a separate, TV-friendly console, OnLive apps can now be downloaded for iOS and Android devices. Tablets and smartphones have been a part of OnLive's plans for more than a year now, so it's nice to see the apps finally rolling out.
Obviously, the touchscreen input offered by smartphones and tablets is less than ideal for the vast majority of games in OnLive's catalog. The company has been working with developers to incorporate touch-friendly controls, and CEO Steve Perlman cites L.A. Noire as one example of a game that's been completely infused with touch controls. Other titles will rely on buttons and joysticks that have been superimposed on the screen, although OnLive also has a separate controller up its sleeve. The controller will cost $50 and will support a variety of different wireless technologies to ensure smooth pairing with your mobile device.
While you'll have to shell out for the controller, the OnLive apps are supposed to be free. If you download now, OnLive will throw in free access to Lego Batman, too. Other games will have to be purchased through the app on Android or on a separate PC for iOS devices; OnLive doesn't want Apple taking a cut of in-app game purchases, it seems.
Having spent some time with OnLive a year ago on my notebook, I fired up my Eee Pad Transformer to check out how the service translates to tablets. Alas, the Android app isn't available in Canada just yet. The premise certainly has promise, though. Provided latencies aren't too high and the image quality looks better than a standard-definition YouTube feed, OnLive could be a compelling solution for mobile gamers—just keep in mind that streaming the game is going to eat up a fair amount of bandwidth.