Using Game Controllers in iPadOS 14

In a new feature for iPadOS 14, you can now pair a wider range of controllers with your Apple tablet. The iPad is at last becoming a serious games machine.

Apple introduced controller support with iPadOS 13.4, which launched along with the Apple Arcade gaming subscription service. iPadOS 14 takes things a step further. The range of joypads has been increased, with support for Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 and Adaptive Controller being added. New controller features added for iPadOS 14 include custom button mapping, force feedback and specialty features like motion sensors, lights, and battery level.

Mouse and trackpad support is no longer a throwaway feature tucked away in the Accessibility options. The new operating systems bring support for the mouse and trackpad to the fore, with better, more highly integrated options. The iPad can, for the first time, register multiple key presses. This is essential for some games. In first-person shooters, for example, it means you can move and shoot at the same time, and in platform games, you couldn’t previously tap the Jump button without letting go of the direction key first.

To make use of these exciting features, you must first pair your controller or keyboard with your iPad. This is achieved in the following ways:

Pairing a Sony PlayStation 4 Controller

• On your PlayStation 4 controller, press and hold both the PS Button and the Share button. After a few seconds, the controller’s light flashes white, showing it’s in pairing mode.

• On your iPad, go to Settings > Bluetooth. Switch it on if necessary. You see a list of devices currently paired with the iPad, and at the bottom, under Other Devices, you see DUALSHOCK 4 Wireless Controller listed.

• Tap DUALSHOCK 4 Wireless Controller, and agree to pair it with your iPad. It can now be used with compatible games.

Pairing a Microsoft Xbox Controller

• On your Bluetooth Xbox controller (non-Bluetooth Microsoft controllers cannot be used), press the Xbox button on the top to switch it on, then press and hold the small connect button at the front to put it into pairing mode.

• On your iPad, go to Settings > Bluetooth. Make sure it’s on. Under Other Devices, at the foot of the screen, you see Xbox Wireless Controller.

• Tap on the Xbox Wireless Controller link, and agree to pair it with your iPad. It can now be used with compatible games.

Pairing a Mouse, Trackpad, Keyboard or Third-Party Controller

• Make sure the device you wish to pair with your iPad offers Bluetooth connectivity. If it doesn’t, it cannot be used with your iPad in this way.

• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for putting the device into pairing mode. All devices are different in this respect, so we can’t be more specific.

• On your iPad, with Bluetooth turned on, go to Settings > Bluetooth. Under Other Devices, at the foot of the screen, you should see the device you’re pairing. Tap it, and then agree to have it paired in the pop-up window.

Device Settings

When you’ve paired a mouse or trackpad with your iPad, you can go to Settings > General > Trackpad & Mouse and configure it. Settings that can be configured include tracking speed, natural scrolling and secondary click. If you’ve paired a keyboard, go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Hardware Keyboards for a similar set of options.

After pairing a games controller, go to Settings > General > Game Controller > Customisations to change button configurations.

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Ian Osborne

Ian has worked on computer and video games magazines since the legendary Crash and Zzap! 64 in the early Nineties, so he’s seen many changes over the years (including an expanding waistline and receding hairline). A lifelong Mac user, he bought his first Mac in the year 2000. It’s a testament to the resilience of the Mac that his mother is still using that computer to this very day.

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