Ever wanted to stream iOS games but couldn’t figure out a way to do so without having to spend money on a capture card and a Lightning to HDMI cable? Elgato has a solution that doesn’t require any additional hardware. All you need is the Screen Link application from the App Store and a computer capable of streaming.
You may have heard about similar apps to this one that have been available for a while now. These applications use Apple’s AirPlay system in an unconventional way to allow the screen mirroring process. Elgato has built their Screen Link app around Apple’s ReplayKit API which they believe to be much better. Elgato claim their solution is superior to the other applications as Screen Link can dynamically adjust to network conditions, ensuring no dropped frames while preserving video quality. In addition to this, Screen Link behaves similarly to web cams and capture cards when using streaming programs unlike the AirPlay alternatives which lack this feature.
All of our testing has been through the free version of the application and a 10.5” iPad. There is a Pro version which allows you to record more than fifteen minutes at one time, however that is the only advertised difference between the free and paid apps. The price for the Pro version is listed to be $10, though at the time we post this currently there is no way to purchase the full version.
Setting up the app is simple. On your iOS device you’ll need to download the app and ensure you have screen capturing enabled in iOS 12. At this point, all you need to do send your screen recording to the Screen Link instead of Camera Roll where it usually goes. From your PC or Mac, make sure you have the most recent version of the Elgato 4K Capture or Game Capture software. This will allow you to use Elgato’s plugin on popular streaming programs like OBS and XSplit. Displaying your iOS device is exactly the same as adding a normal capture card, except instead of clicking on a capture card you scroll down to Elgato Screen Link.
There are two things the Screen Link app promises that we couldn’t figure out how to get to work: audio and 60FPS capture. The whole setup process was so easy that it seemed like we must’ve skipped a step. Playing around with the options in OBS yielded no results, hopefully this is just a bug that randomly occurred on our end.
When this app was first revealed, we immediately thought something like this could be very useful for creative streamers who want to stream their work. While something like this could work well for games, there aren’t too many games out there that don’t already have a PC/console counterpart which already work better when streaming.
Just as we expected, when using drawing apps like Procreate, Screen Link does an excellent job at what it promises to do. 60FPS when drawing isn’t crucial and neither is audio as you will most likely have other audio sources running through your streaming program. There is noticeable lag when using the Screen Link app, however, if you are drawing this shouldn’t be much of a problem as you will be focused on the iPad rather than what your viewers can see. The lag can last anywhere between three to five seconds, making it awkward for use when attempting to livestream games or use the camera.
When compared to Apple’s own Lightning Digital AV Adapter, it’s no surprise to see that the Screen Link app is nowhere near as good. No matter how good Elgato’s wireless solution is, it is practically impossible to beat a wired connection. That being said, when you consider the price and the lack of effort needed to set this up, this is a very good option for those who are looking to getting into streaming from their iOS devices.