The latest update to the Stadia app for Android points to Google’s game streaming service gaining motion controls, a revamped touch gamepad, and more.
About APK Insight: In this “APK Insight” post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.
“Device Motion” controls for Stadia
At the start, Stadia only offered two core input options: the traditional keyboard and mouse for PC-style gamers and controller for console-style players. Last year, these options were expanded with “Direct Touch,” a handy way to play games like Humankind with only your device’s touchscreen.
In Stadia 4.6, we find a significant amount of work being done on a new control scheme called “Device Motion.” From what we can piece together, the Stadia app on Android will look at the way that you move your phone and report that to the game accordingly. Under the hood, your physical movements are translated to specific controller inputs like pulling down a trigger or moving a joystick.
The most obvious use for this would be for a casual racing game, where you could lean your phone forward to accelerate, back to brake, and side to side to steer. It could also be possible for these motion controls to be useful for a game like Just Dance, though that series has its own dedicated mobile app for motion controls.
Unsurprisingly, given the many different ways a game developer could choose to enable motion controls for their Stadia game, there is code in the app to prepare for “game-specific” motion controls.
From that same file name, we also learn that Stadia’s phone-based motion controls will be rooted in the app’s touch gamepad which lets players jump into a Stadia game happening on a nearby screen using only their phone as a controller.
Touch gamepad V2
Speaking of the touch gamepad, Stadia 4.6 also includes numerous mentions of a “V2” (or version 2) of the app’s touch controls. There are new assets in place for each version of Stadia’s touch controls, including the simplified controls for pairing to a screen, the transparent ones for playing on your phone, and the controls for using your phone as a controller for another screen.
Overall, the changes don’t seem too significant, mostly tweaks to font size and a few minor shape changes, but it’s still nice to see Google actively putting in work to make the touch controls better.
More importantly, we find that Stadia may be preparing a way for developers to customize the touch controls that appear for their game. This sort of thing has been a key feature of Xbox Game Pass’s mobile app for some time now and would make a fantastic addition to Stadia.
“Broadcaster” and “spectators”
One of the interesting benefits of Stadia is that since your gameplay is already being streamed from Google’s server to your device, it’s not difficult for your video feed to stream elsewhere too. This possibility is what makes Stadia’s built-in YouTube streaming possible along with Stadia exclusive features like Stream Connect.
In Stadia 4.6, we find a few bits of code that suggest that Google is continuing to expand its streaming features, with mentions about “spectators” and being a “broadcaster.” It’s not clear at this point whether this is simply related to viewing your YouTube live streaming viewer account or if Stadia is preparing a way to share your gameplay directly with friends.
Lastly, while digging, we found multiple mentions of “enterprise” features for Stadia, including “enterprise game IDs.” It’s likely these are simply settings for game development companies to manage the use of Stadia’s servers during the development process.
Thanks to JEB Decompiler, from which some APK Insight teardowns benefit.
More on Stadia:
- Stadia Changelog: ‘Deliver Us the Moon’ arrives in April, a few other games incoming
- Google Stadia works with the Steam Deck, but waiting on an update to use game pad [U]
- [Update: Claim now] Google adds five Stadia Pro games for March 2022, including Darksiders Genesis
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