How to Pair Console Gamepads to Apple or Android Devices
One of the greatest announces of iOS 13 (along with tvOS 13) was compatibility with the Xbox and DualShock 4 controllers. Integrating the most popular gamepads makes iOS even more attractive as a gaming platform. Also, these gamepads are now supported by Android 10. Connecting a gamepad to your phone or tablet is easy if you know how.
It only takes an Android smartphone or tablet with Android 10, or an iPhone or iPad with the latest iOS 13, or Apple TV with tvOS 13, and one of the compatible gamepads. Neither Apple nor Google makes any differences: Microsoft and Sony devices are supported well and get connected in the same manner. So now, you can just connect a gamepad to your Apple TV or Android TV box (if it’s updated) to get the experience similar to that with a fully-fledged console.
Mobile gaming is big now; in 2018, it made about 45% of the total gaming industry income. Now it’s about to go even bigger, as both Apple and Google launch their subscription services, with access to enormous number of games for reasonable money. No matter if you prefer Google Play Pass or Apple Arcade, as well as no matter what gamepad you connect.
So, let the pairing begin! And let’s get ready for big gaming on smaller devices. After Fortnite, it’s no more a surprise, but rather a mainstream. More and more games now start supporting traditional gamepad layouts in their mobile versions, and soon it may become a must.
Setting Up the Gamepad
The procedure of connecting Bluetooth devices is unified (unless it’s a smartwatch or fitness tracker that needs a special companion app). There may be some details regarding the compatibility of certain devices, but the procedure is similar.
Get Your Gamepad Pairable
So, you have a DualShock or an Xbox gamepad that needs to be paired. Let’s assume you have a Bluetooth-ready Xbox controller (DualShock is always Bluetooth-ready, so there won’t be any issues). Then make sure the batteries are alright, and then turn the gamepad on.
If you have a DualShock 4, first press and hold “Share” button (to the left of the touchpad). Then, without letting it go, hold “PlayStation” button in the middle. Hold both buttons until you see the light bar blink at the top of the gamepad. This blinking indicated the gamepad is ready to be found and paired.
If you use an Xbox controller, turn it on by long-pressing the “Xbox” button. Then release it and press and hold the Share button on the top of the gamepad. When the Xbox logo starts blinking, it means that the gamepad is ready to be connected.
It doesn’t matter so far whether you use an iPhone or an iPad. The device just needs to have the 13 version of the OS, regardless of whether it’s iOS or iPad OS. The procedure is the same.
- Open “Settings” (the familiar gear-shaped icon).
- Select “Bluetooth” section and let it search for available devices.
- Tap your controller’s name when you see it listed among available devices. Usually, it’s detected as “DUALSHOCK 4 Wireless Controller” or “Xbox Wireless Controller”.
- Wait until the devices are paired successfully. After that, your gamepad will be displayed in your Bluetooth section as “Connected”. You can also tell whether the connection is successful by the indicators on the gamepad. On DualShock it will turn pink. On Xbox gamepad, it switches from blinking to constant light.
On Apple TV
No exaggeration: connecting a controller to Apple TV is the most exciting idea if you have an option. It hasn’t been taken seriously as a gaming device before, but connected gamepads and Apple Arcade can upgrade it and make quite a “lite” alternative to mainstream consoles. We assume your gamepad is in pairing mode already, and the box is updated to tvOS 13.
- Turn on your Apple TV and open Settings
- Select “Remotes and Devices” in the right section with your remote and tap it
- Open “Bluetooth” section by clicking on it
- Find your controller in “Other Devices” section and click it
If you are still not sure about the procedure, there is a native instruction named “How to pair game controllers” on top of the list. Beware: after you connect the controller, it becomes a versatile remote for your Apple TV, as well as it is for the original consoles. You will be able to navigate the menu with it, use on-screen keyboard, and do all the operations you regularly do. It is handy, if you are into gaming, or in case you misplace the original remote. But it also has some negative effect: you won’t be able to wake the console with its remote until you forget the gamepad on it.
Not that it necessarily took the latest Android version: it was possible to connect controllers before, and not only those by famous manufacturers but even noname ones made in China as well (these started flourishing on mobile Battle Royale games). The latest version of Android, though, handles controllers more correctly and connects them faster.
If you are lucky enough to have a Google Pixel phone, do the following:
- Go to Settings.
- Select “Connected Devices”.
- Tap “Pair New Device” and wait for them to appear on the list. While Xbox controllers are recognized as “Xbox Wireless Controller”, DualShock will simply introduce itself as a “Wireless Controller”. That’s Sony’s ambition to be the gaming default.
- When your controller is displayed, tap it and wait until the connection is established.
When connected, DualShock’s lightbar shines blue (instead of pink it uses to indicate a connection to iOS), and Xbox gamepad behaves the same, with its button illuminated constantly.
It’s done similarly on older version of Android, though you may have to connect the gamepad like an ordinary Bluetooth device. It doesn’t show later when you use it in games. But the process itself is one step longer.
NB for PS4 Players
There is a bonus for DualShock owners on Android: as they connect their Sony controller to the tablet or phone, they can start using it as a mouse, controlling the pointer with a touchpad. That’s cool for those who prefer to treat the tablet as a mini laptop, despite a bit bizarre.
NB for Xbox Players
Turn on your Bluetooth if you want your Xbox wireless controller to be ready. Just look at the surrounding the Xbox button. Glossy plastic surrounding means it doesn’t work. But it will work if this is made of the same plastic matte as the face of the controller.