The One Feature iOS 14 Needs for Gaming

In iOS 13 Apple finally added compatibility for Xbox One and PS4 controllers, but they left out one very important feature.


Last year with the release of iOS 13 Apple introduced the ability to pair an Xbox One or PS4 controller to your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV to play games in the way you’re probably most familiar. Controllers were supported before this, of course, but they were limited to those built to Apple’s strict MFi specifications, forcing iOS gamers looking to use a controller to pay extra for often worse built quality than the controllers from Microsoft and Sony.

This change came at the perfect time. The long delayed Steam Link app for iOS was finally released only months before the announcement of iOS 13, and new game streaming services like Microsoft’s Project xCloud were just being announced. True AAA gaming on mobile was starting to look like a reality, and console quality controllers would be needed to keep up.

But after iOS 13 was released, it became apparent that one major feature was missing in Apple’s implementation of Xbox One and PS4 controllers, that feature was rumble. If you were, like me, quick to test your controller after installing iOS 13 you may have thought something was wrong when no games, even those streaming from PC, had rumble. It didn’t help that the Steam Link app for iOS actually has settings in it for adjusting controller vibration. I spent way too much time in that settings menu before realizing it wasn’t a problem on my end.

Apple seems to be embracing game streaming as a way to bring core gamers into the iOS ecosystem. Instead of continuing to hope iOS developers will eventually move away from free-to-play and towards more engaging gaming experiences, Apple seems to be taking a two pronged approach to fixing iOS gaming, on the one end Apple Arcade and the other game streaming.

And they’re so close, but after playing many games streaming from my Mac to my Apple TV it really is apparent how much rumble is a vital part of the AAA gaming experience. It sounds silly but try it, it just feels worse. That’s why iOS 14 needs to add controller vibration to the controller API. If Apple want’s to pursue game streaming as the high end of iOS gaming then adding such a small but familiar feature to core gamers would do a lot to show their commitment to this segment of the market. 

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