According to the latest APK Insights report from 9to5Google of the Stadia app, Google may soon implement a few new features into its game streaming service that should get fans excited. There’s also an interesting super-secret code that we’ll discuss today which could be big news. Before we get started though, it’s important to understand that APK Insights means that the app is decompiled and its code is inspected. It doesn’t mean that these features will ever see the light of day, but it does mean that Google is testing them internally and they have a high likelihood to exist publicly since they’ve already made their way into a build.
First, several strings point to a new Couch Multiplayer mode potentially being added, which would allow the Stadia host to connect extra controllers for additional players, though those extra players wouldn’t be able to synchronize their profiles – meaning they can’t gain achievements or save their progress to their account. This could be good for pick up and play games like Cake Bash, but definitely not for more involved games. Joining players may be able to jump in the game by visiting stadia.com/couch to get connected. Ever since “couch co-op” died in the early 2000s, I’ve had a longing for more games to utilize it, so I hope this comes to fruition.
Next up, the basically useless “Explore” tab that Stadia has had since its inception may soon feature more interactive content like posts from Stadia Community, recommended players to add to your friend’s list, and more. I’ve always felt that this could use some more work and had always agreed when people told me it felt cobbled together to get the service launched. I’d love to see State Shares and slices of games appear here, but we’ll see.
One code string mentions something about “56k modems”, but these are basically slower than dirt and couldn’t possibly run Stadia, so as 9to5Google points out, we’re inclined to agree that this is probably an April Fool’s joke being cooked up. Okay, let’s get to the show stopper here – Project Hailstorm. What exactly is this and why is it appearing in the app’s source code? Two simply lines of code leave us with more questions than answers:
A Hailstorm is coming soon.
Introducing Project Hailstorm from Stadia
A hailstorm consists of pellets of frozen rain that fall in unrelenting showers from the sky. My guess is that Project Hailstorm is Stadia’s Google TV and Android TV apps. An unrelenting and overwhelming amount of users would immediately have access to the service when it rolls out across all Televisions, so it seems to be the most likely explanation. LG’s new TVs will have a native Stadia app later this year, and Sony and TCL are integrating Google TV into the core of their respective user experiences.
With the release of these native Stadia apps and of course Google’s very own Stadia app for Google TV (which would immediately be available on all other TVs that have Google TV built-in or a Chromecast connected) they could get an overwhelming amount of new sign-ups to the service, especially with free to play games coming to the cloud console! I mean, there are a mind-blowing amount of televisions globally – Statista.com estimates that there were 1.7 billion TVs in households worldwide, so even if you only account for devices in the countries which have access to Stadia, this could very well be the service’s moment to shine!
Also, Hailstorm is the name for a Netflix-created program that would help the company to reduce integration effort for partners on Android TV, thus allowing them to become ‘Netflix certified devices’ more quickly. If Google has created something that was inspired by Netflix Hailstorm, or if they’re able to utilize the same technology, they could be in talks to let TV partners (not just those aforementioned) utilize it to speed up the integration process for Stadia. I don’t know enough about Netflix’s efforts in this space, but it all makes sense to me.
What do you think Project Hailstorm is? Of course, my thoughts are mine alone, but the evidence seems to stack up so far, but we’ll have to keep an eye on it as it develops. Let’s have a discussion about this in the comments. If you’re interested in viewing the full APK Insights report, we’ll redirect you to 9to5Google since they put so much hard work into it each time.