Playing some games with touchscreen controls can be frustrating at times, but thankfully Apple device owners can pair an Xbox, PlayStation DualSense or DualShock 4 controller to their phone, tablet or set-top-box.
All of them work well with Apple Arcade and the numerous games that support game controllers, with little noticeable latency. Cloud gaming services, such as Xbox Cloud Gaming, also run brilliantly with an actual controller.
Here, then, is how you can hook up an Xbox or PlayStation controller to your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Apple TV.
How to pair an Xbox wireless controller with iOS, iPadOS or tvOS
First, you need to turn on your Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S controller by pressing the Xbox symbol at the top, then put it into pair mode by pressing the pairing button on the top face of the controller (near the left trigger).
The Xbox symbol should then blink more quickly.
For iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, click on the “Settings” app on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. Tap on Bluetooth and under “Other Devices” you should see “Xbox Wireless Controller”. Tap on that and it should automatically pair with your device.
The instructions are similar for Apple TV. Again, head to the “Settings” application although this time you need to scroll to “Remotes and Devices”. The “Bluetooth” option is in there, so click on it and, if your controller is in pair mode it should appear as “Xbox Wireless Controller” under “Other Devices”. Click on that and you’re done. You can also use the controller for all navigation on Apple TV instead of the included remote.
How to pair a PS5 DualSense or PS4 DualShock 4 controller with iOS, iPadOS or tvOS
The instructions on how to pair a PS4 controller are similar to the above. However, setting the controller into pair mode is different.
Before turning it on, you need to hold the “Share” button on the controller (left of the touchpad). Then press the PlayStation button in the bottom centre. The LED light on the controller should flash white, signifying it is now in pair mode.
Now you should see it appear in the Bluetooth menu on iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or Apple TV as suggested above – this time as “DUALSHOCK 4 Wireless Controller” or “DUALSENSE Wireless Controller”. Tap on that and you’re done.
How to use Xbox and PS5 controllers after pairing
Once initially paired, you can automatically link your controller by pressing either the Xbox symbol on the Xbox pad or the PlayStation button on the PS4 alternative.
To disconnect them and power them down, head to the Bluetooth menu on your respective device, tap on the information icon and then “Disconnect”.