Undoubtedly, one of the best features of Google Stadia is the ability to play AAA games on pretty much any device you own without the need for expensive equipment. Another great feature is that, for the most part, you don’t actually need to use a Stadia controller. Any modern controller will work fine. Connect a PS4 or Xbox controller to your phone/tablet/computer via Bluetooth or wired, boot up Stadia and you’re good to go. Stadia will even change the iconography to match the controller you are using. Magic. Until recently, if you wanted to play Stadia on your big 4K HDR TV, you did need to use the Stadia controller with a CCU or Android/Google TV. Well, that’s now changed.
This was first discovered by 9to5Google in their APK Insights a while back, but it’s finally becoming available on a rolling basis. The Stadia team have just released an update called “Phone Link”. You can either use your phone as a touchpad OR use your phone as a “bridge” and plug a controller into it. With this you can play Stadia on your TV with a wide range of controllers. Obviously, this is great if you don’t have a Stadia controller or prefer your Xbox controller. But if you still want to experience games on your TV with minimal outlay now you can. The touch screen controls may be no good for fast paced games, but 2D platformers or more basic games are ideal.
This may seem like a convoluted solution, but it is very clever. A lot of TV’s don’t have Bluetooth built in. But many have a ChromeCast Ultra or ChromeCast with Google TV to give it smart features. This feature now turns that TV into a games console.
Things are improving
This feature is still in its infancy so there are a few issues. Whilst you are using your phone as a bridge the phone screen needs to stay on the Stadia screen. This means opening another app or checking that last message will cause the controller to disconnect. Stadia will automatically pause the game if this happens. But it is a minor inconvenience. Of course the other downside to having your screen on all the time is the issue of battery life. Luckily it is a dark screen so that should mitigate the battery loss some what, but each phone will be different.