How iOS 14 will make gaming on iPhone and iPad better than ever

By

Fortnite mobile controller
This changes everything.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

iOS and iPadOS 14 will make gaming on iPhone and iPad better than ever, with huge improvements to game controller support. Players can look forward to button remapping, motion controls and more.

And for the first time, you’ll be able to play games on iPad using a keyboard and mouse!

Apple surprised us all when it added support for Sony’s DualShock 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One controller in iOS 13 last year. The change made games like Fortnite and Call of Duty infinitely better.

But it doesn’t stop there. With iOS 14, Apple builds on that momentum with significant improvements to gamepad support — and true mouse and keyboard integration on iPad. Here’s why you should be excited.

Improved controller support in iOS 14

In addition to DualShock 4 and Xbox One controllers, iOS 14 supports the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller and the Xbox Adaptive Controller. And using any one of these is going to get even greater in a number of ways.

DualShock 4 users will have the opportunity to use motion controls and haptic feedback, as well as the controller’s touchpad. Developers will also be able to take advantage of its LED light bar.

All controllers will support button remapping — at system level for all games or on a per-app basis — and developers will be able to keep tabs on a controller’s battery status and make it available to players in-game.

There’s some good news for those who prefer to play with a keyboard and mouse, too.

Play with a keyboard and mouse on iPad

iPadOS 14 will add the ability to play games with a keyboard and mouse for the first time. And it will be true keyboard and mouse support for the same experience you might enjoy on a Mac or PC.

iPad already lets you use a mouse and keyboard, of course, but current limitations mean you can’t use a mouse for aiming or camera control inside a game. That changes this fall — and it could be huge.

Now, I’m not going to suggest that PC gamers will suddenly start selling their gaming rigs and switching to iPad. But for those who already enjoy the desktop gaming experience, the ability to replicate it on iPad sounds incredible.

The change will also be welcomed by those who are unable to throw wads of cash into a powerful gaming PC, but want the keyboard and mouse experience when playing games that are particularly suited to it.

For developers, it means better cross-device compatility. A game with keyboard and mouse support will provide a more enjoyable experience on ARM-powered Macs, which will be able to run iPhone and iPad apps out of the box.

It’s up to developers

I don’t know about you, but I’m incredibly excited about all of this. There’s something we have to bear in mind, however: It’s now up to third-party developers to bring all of these improvements to their games.

Given how quickly game-makers embraced controller support, we likely won’t have to wait long for the gamepad improvements to expand their reach. But it might take longer for games to adopt keyboard and mouse support.