You can now completely control your Playstation 4 with an iOS device anywhere there’s internet thanks to a free, new PS4 Remote Play app. The new feature comes through a system software update for PS4, which is also free. After spending a few minutes acquiring said software updates and apps, I was able to control my PS4 with my iPhone which is undeniably awesome. Playing Spider-Man on my phone without a controller, however, really sucks.
But hey, in my opinion, most games with screen controls are terrible. The only thing that made my new iOS-powered Spider-Man worthwhile was the fact that I was revisiting my childhood dream of playing the full version of a console game on a random mobile device, no new hardware required. It’s also possible to use a controller with the new PS4 Remote Play app. However, you cannot use your standard PS4 Dualshock Remote. You’ll need an Apple-certified MFi controller that connects to your iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth, which I do not have but will now consider buying.
I’m getting ahead of myself, though. If you’re interested in swinging an axe in God of War while you’re sitting at an airport, you’ll first need to make sure you update your system software to 6.50. This is the one that unlocks Remote Play for iOS. Then, download the PS4 Remote Play app from the App Store and open it up.
When you open it, you’ll be prompted to connect your phone to your PS4 which can take a few minutes and—at least in my case—will fail two or three times before it works. One of those times the app informed me that my internet connection wasn’t strong enough to support the connection, which left me wondering how much bandwidth this thing actually requires. (I’ve asked Sony for these details and will update this post, when I hear back.) Then, there was an issue where my PS4 would not connect to the internet but told me that it had connected to my phone. And nothing worked. After restarting the console and my iPhone, I tried again, and everything worked like magic.
Magic is almost too strong a word. I did notice some freezing and glitching in my few minutes of Spider-Man play, but it’s unclear to me if this is because of my internet connection or the app itself. It’s probably perfectly fine for single player games, but I’d be wary of risking your ranking in Overwatch this way. I should also point out here that both my iPhone and my PS4 were connected to the same Verizon FiOS network via wifi. I have not yet tested this using an ethernet connection or with an iOS device and a PS4 on different networks. The former should theoretically improve performance, while it’s likely playing your home PS4 from the office on your phone will be a less than stellar experience.
It’s possible this neat new feature is a little buggy. Remote Play launched on the Android-powered Sony Experia Z3 way back in 2014 and existed in various forms for Sony’s handheld consoles, like the PSP and PS Vita for years before that. The app has also come to Windows and macOS as well as other Sony smartphones in recent years. There are also some apps that offer some of this remote access functionality, but you have to pay for them. Now that it’s coming to iOS, a big new group of gamers can get in on the fun.
Is it fun to play PS4 games on your iPhone? Hard to say. I struggled to swing from my web just a single time in the few minutes that I awkwardly rubbed my iPhone screen while playing Spider-Man. I’m also eager to see what the experience is like with an MFi controller. What was really cool, though, is the fact that the iOS and my PS4 stayed in sync the whole time. After I tested the app on my iPhone, and I reopened Spider-Man on my PS4 and found myself at the exact same spot in the game. I’d also add that accessing your PS4 using the Remote Play app leaves your TV free to do anything else. So if your roommate or loved one is watching a movie and you want to fight crime in a video game, you can do it through an iOS device without interruption.
Both the PS4 software update and the PS4 Remote Play are available now, and both are free. If this is your kind of thing, I’d definitely recommend giving it a try. At the very least, it’s a trip playing PS4 games on an iPhone.