The Hills Are Greener: Why Android Has OnLive and iOS Doesn’t.

The Hills Are Greener: Why Android Has OnLive and iOS Doesn’t.

Dec 26, 2011

So, here we are, two weeks later, and OnLive is still only on Android. It was announced to be released for iOS along with the Android version, but no real reason has been given as to the delay of the iOS version, beyond that Apple is still examining it for approval.

Without firsthand knowledge of the process, I can only assume that Apple is not likely to approve it because it will not fit their policies. See, OnLive’s client is all cloud-based; even the interface and menus to choose games are streamed from their servers. This also means that buying new games comes from operations occuring on their servers.

Apple likely has two problems with this. First is the fact that the OnLive could feature content that they themselves did not specifically approve; this may have been the ultimate issue with Big Fish’s subscription app that was available for a short while on the App Store before being pulled. The second, and more telling issue, is that Apple would not get their cut. See, Apple policies are as such where apps can now no longer sell content inside of an app unless they go through Apple’s in-app payment service, and Apple takes their 30% cut. For virtual currency, developers and publishers are willing to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but for sellers of subscription and physical goods, this is too large of a cut to surrender to Apple. As such, apps can now offer access to purchased content from outside the app, but they cannot specifically sell it inside the app. Kindle can’t sell books from within the app; Netflix can’t sell subscriptions from within their app. Likely, the issue here is that Apple doesn’t want to let OnLive sell games without them taking their pound of flesh.

Frankly, this is bunk. This is anti-consumer policy at its worst. This only benefits Apple, as this is holding up an app that many iPad owners would likely use, and one that Android owners are already getting to use, solely because of Apple’s policies. Presumably. This reasoning makes too much sense to not be true. The technology likely isn’t an issue; it’s largely just streaming video with occasional touch elements, with support for on-screen controls as well as an external wireless gamepad. Apple just wants control, and to make extra pennies off of anyone trying to do business on their store, not to provide the best experience to the user in this case.

The likely solution, if payment processing is an issue, would likely be that the iOS version of OnLive would only allow access to already-purchased games and trials of them. This would be a degraded user experience, especially compared to the fully-functional Android version (which supports Xbox controllers on devices with USB host functionality), for what are likely reasons only relating to Apple’s ham-handed control of the App Store.

Of course, I could be completely wrong and there was some other issue that kept it from being approved alongside the Android version. But this stinks of Apple’s anti-consumer App Store policies. It’s times like this when I truly appreciate the openness of Android – services can be free to operate properly without any interference from Google. It has its drawbacks at times, but it is times like these when it is a great strength. OnLive on, Androids!

Carter Dotson
Carter Dotson, editor of Android Rundown, has been covering Android since late 2010, and the mobile industry as a whole since 2009. Originally from Texas, he has recently moved to Chicago. He loves both iOS and Android for what they are - we can all get along!
Connect with Carter Dotson // email // www
  • “Without firsthand knowledge of the process”, you just eliminated the whole point of this article and destroyed your credibility. Writing opinions as journalistic content regarding a rival platform makes you look extremely unwise.

    Netflix is available on iOS, as is Kindle. Do you want to know why it is taking so long? The first application was declined then resubmitted, the process takes two weeks, but Apple Inc. is interested in licensing the software to their hardware like the Apple TV and Netflix thus further discussions are required.

    “I could be completely wrong”, yes you are completely wrong, expect the iOS app within the next few days, there is also a slight delay with it being Christmas vacation for the majority of employees who review the applications submitted over at Apple Inc., this is a very biased article and seems like ‘Fandroid’ nonsense. You should really embrace the fact that cross-platform gaming has finally arrived rather than making gross assumptions regarding the status of an application because you make both OnLive Inc. and yourselves look bad.

  • 1. The Hills Are Greener is an opinion column with analysis of Android’s interactions with iOS. It has always been this.

    2. App approvals vary wildly in time – I know developers who have had applications approved on the App Store in days. Obviously, it varies from app to app, but the app having not been approved at this point indicates clearly that there is some issue with it on Apple’s end.

    3. Apple has historically had issue with apps featuring outside gaming content that they cannot control. The recent Big Fish subscription app being pulled is one, and we’ve seen issues with emulators like iDOS and iMAME being pulled because of the ability to load ROMs. Video and books they appear to be fine with, but it seems to be executing code that runs into issues.

    4. As such, I have my doubts that OnLive will actually appear on iOS in the form identical to the Android app. I am using my analysis as a journalist who has covered mobile gaming for almost 3 years now – if it is approved in a form identical to the Android app, then obviously my analysis will have been off, but with new information, future analysis should hopefully be more prescient. As I said, I do believe that an Apple-friendly version of the OnLive app will happen, but that doing so will take work on OnLive’s end to change their interface for iOS users, based on how I’ve operated it working on Android.

    5. I take offense to your accusations of bias. Accusations of me being a ‘Fandroid’ seem silly considering that I own and regularly use an iPad and iPod touch, having been an Android owner for about the past year – and I write about iOS regularly for sister site 148Apps. I have written multiple reviews for both sites covering cross-platform releases (INC, Sonic CD, Blood & Glory, and Muffin Knight off the top of my head) – I have plenty of experience covering and using both platforms. 

  • Great article and very well written.  One interesting component to this is: Android and OnLive come from the same hatchery.  Not only did Rearden nurture OnLive into a full company, but Rearden also provided seed money for Android.  As for the iOS situation, perhaps OnLive should have announced this differently.

  • Unsure aboutthis

    expect the iOS app within the next few days, there is also a slight delay with it being Christmas vacation for the majority of employees who review the applications submitted over at Apple Inc., this is a very biased article and seems like ‘Fandroid’ nonsense.”

    So its 7 months later… who looks like the idiot now?