Shadow is releasing for iOS in the App Store

Shadow is preparing to release Shadow for iOS in the App Store. Their iOS App was previously only available to select testers. It’s about to become available to all Shadow subscribers, so is it any good?

iOS needs this

I’ve said it before, and it’s worth saying again. iOS needs more support from Cloud Gaming developers. Until recently, there were very few Cloud Gaming or Game Streaming Apps available in the App Store. That’s still true, but with the addition of Shadow, there’s now one more.

How does it work?

Note: We were granted access to a pre-release build of the Shadow App for iOS. This build may not reflect the final feature set that will be implemented upon release.

When you think about mobile game streaming Apps, launchers often come to mind. That’s not the case with Shadow. When you fire up the Shadow iOS App, you’re granted access to your full Cloud Desktop.

Shadow desktop through iOS App

Shadow doesn’t make you move a virtual mouse cursor. Instead you can tap with one or two fingers just like you would on a Windows tablet. If you tap at the top of the screen, you’ll reveal a hidden Shadow menu that allows you to trigger special key combinations and enable various settings.

Shadow Settings Menu

Currently Shadow does not include any sort of virtual controller. You won’t find an option for touch joysticks or buttons. For most games this means that you’ll need to connect a MFi controller to your iOS device. The good news is that Shadow detects your MFi controller quickly and reliably. You won’t need to jump through any hoops to get things working.


I had fairly low expectations as I prepared to test Shadow on iOS. In 2018 when we reviewed Shadow on Android, the performance was unimpressive. We encountered frequent stuttering and artifacting.

Thankfully you’ll find none of that in their iOS App. Performance is quick and responsive. Video quality is excellent with virtually no artifacting. The sound quality is also fantastic.

It’s important to point out that we tested Shadow’s iOS App on an iPhone XS Max running the latest version of iOS 12. We were also using 5 Ghz Wifi from a newer Linksys Router. Your experience may be slightly different if you use a lower-powered iPhone or test it over LTE. Wifi is definitely recommended for the best experience.

There are a few opportunities

Although Shadow performs well on iOS, there are still a few opportunities that are worth noting. As we mentioned earlier, you’ll really need a MFi controller to get the most out of Shadow on iOS. Most MFi controllers lack physical R3/L3 and Select buttons. These buttons are generally used for actions like Sprinting, Crouching, and toggling the Map in many games.

Other iOS Streaming Apps (like Moonlight) address this problem by allowing you to display virtual buttons on the screen that replace these functions. Shadow does not currently include a solution for these missing buttons.

We reached out to Shadow to find out if they are aware of this problem. The good news is that they are aware, and they plan to release a solution in the near future. So hopefully this particular shortcoming is very temporary.

Outside of the missing MFi buttons, Shadow also does not include any sort of virtual controller. This isn’t a huge deal, and we’ve generally found virtual controllers to be ineffective in most games. However I know that some of you appreciate them, so this detail is worth noting.

Public release

Shadow announced through Discord that their iOS App will be available in the iOS App Store sometime during the week of January 15th 2019.

“A major event in Shadow’s life will take place this week: It’s the official release of the iOS application in the App Store (finally!)”

Shadow Discord

EDIT: Shadow for iOS is now available! Grab it here.

If you’re interested in seeing Shadow’s iOS App in action, take a look at the video below:

Also published on Medium.

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