As we near Stadia’s imminent launch, more is becoming clear about how it will work and what we can expect on the first day. Yesterday saw the release of the Stadia mobile app on the Play Store, and since then we’ve been digging into it for info on the highly anticipated cloud gaming platform. Google has commented on what we’ll be able to do with Stadia, but info on what Stadia features aren’t ready for launch is scarce. Here is a collection of evidence we found in the Stadia app that tells us what could come after November 19th’s launch.
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.
Google Assistant functionality
The Google Assistant is one of the core features of Stadia, making its home right on the controller with its own dedicated button. Three strings we found suggest that it won’t be available immediately at launch, and that if it is, in-game functionality for the Assistant will come even later.
Label indicating that the Google Assistant during gameplay is coming soon
Label indicating that the Google Assistant feature is coming soon
Google Assistant on Stadia is coming soon
It’s important to note that the first two strings are meant for the developers and people who localize the app, so that they can create appropriate language for the context and character limit that the text’s placement in the app may be restricted by. We see many of these strings around the app, so bear in mind that these strings will most likely not be seen by users.
Stadia’s Buddy Pass feature is a way for Founders to share the Stadia Pro experience with their friend for a period of 3 months. It was expected not to be immediately available on launch, but the app now confirms it.
Body text telling the user that they should think about who to send their Buddy Pass to. This is shown before the Buddy Pass is actually available for sending.
Header on the “coming soon” information page for the section describing what the buddy pass is.
Title for the “coming soon” information page for buddy pass.
Captures (screenshots, video clips)
Game capture is essential for anyone who wants to share their in-game experiences with the world. We’ve known that captures will be part of the Stadia experience for a while, but they may not be available on the first day.
Label indicating that captures is coming soon
It also turns out that Capture functionality will be exclusive to mobile and unsupported on mobile, meaning you can’t capture screenshots or video clips in the mobile app, but it’s the only place you can view and manage them. This seems like an odd implementation to have early in Stadia’s life, but we hope it will be sorted out before Stadia is in the hands of everyone.
A toast notification informing the user that Capture functionality is unavailable on Mobile, and suggests playing on a television or computer, where capture functionality works. Shown when the user presses the Capture button on a Stadia Controller.
Can’t save captures in the app yet. Try on a TV or computer.
See your captures in the mobile app
Manage your captures in the mobile app
Similar to other platforms, Stadia will have a feature to create group text and voice chats to use while playing a game with your friends. There are many references to Parties and invitations in the app, but one string in particular suggests that this Stadia feature won’t be ready for Founders at launch.
Parties are for playing games and chatting together. This is the text on the banner informing that we will soon release Parties feature.
We also found this “party_invite” image within the app, most likely the background for an invitation to join:
This functionality is crucial to any multiplayer experience, so it makes sense that it’s very close to being ready, but it seems the Stadia team might just miss the deadline. We hope to see this within a week or two after launch, if not on launch day.
Voice chat on mobile
Perhaps related to the Parties feature, chatting via microphone will not be available on mobile devices at launch. This could be a big loss for mobile Founders, who may only have their phone to play with friends on. It is understandable, however, because the Stadia controller would have to transmit both audio and commands through USB. Only one of the launch-supported Stadia phones has a dedicated headphone jack: the Pixel 3a.
Game voice is not supported on Mobile right now, the user can still listen to their friends though.
No mic support yet in game chats, coming soon to the app
Wireless Stadia Controller pairing
It recently became known that the Stadia Controller would only support wired gameplay on non-Chromecast Ultra devices at launch. The following strings reaffirm that wireless support for the controller on other platforms will come eventually. How “soon” it is, we don’t exactly know.
Use a USB cable to link your Stadia Controller with a computer, or supported phone or tablet. Wireless linking for these devices is coming soon.
To link with a computer or supported phone or tablet, use a USB cable to connect your Stadia Controller. Wireless linking for these devices is coming soon.
‘Enhanced’ accessibility features
As with any product designed for the masses, accessibility is important. Solutions for users with disabilities and/or impairments have existed on other gaming platforms for a while, and it seems Stadia is making them a priority as well. At launch, basic accessibility tools will be available, but these strings tell us that ‘enhanced’ versions will be available later.
Enhanced screen reader capability coming soon!
Enhanced text-to-speech capability is coming soon.
Take what we’ve said here with a grain of salt. Some of these strings may reflect older versions of the app which were tested internally, and could have changed since then. Many of these Stadia features are arguably major for the platform, and we hope to see them either at launch or very soon after. For Founders, this might mean a period of limited functionality from the get-go that will gradually improve over time. We’re hoping that Stadia can still make a good impression during launch week, even if it’s missing the extra features.
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