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Using Nintendo Joy-Cons with iPhone, iPad, Apple TV


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Apple introduced Nintendo controller support in iOS 16, iPadOS 16 and tvOS 16, so it’s now possible to pair Joy-Cons to your devices. Here’s how.

Nintendo controllers pair via a specific signal so they won’t be visible to devices looking for a standard Bluetooth controller. However, Apple has enabled its devices to detect Nintendo controllers and pair them with ease.

Remark: To pair a Nintendo controller, a user must be running iOS 16, iPad OS 16or tvOS 16† These operating systems are currently in beta testing and will not be released to the public until the fall.

Pairing your Nintendo controller with an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV

  1. Open Settings on your device with the required operating system.
  2. Tap Bluetooth on iPhone or iPad. On an Apple TV, select Remotes & Devices, then Bluetooth.
  3. Press and hold the pairing button on the Nintendo controller.
  4. When the lights on the controller start blinking, check the controller name in Settings.
  5. Select the controller name to pair

This process only needs to be done once, as long as the Nintendo controller is used exclusively with the Apple device. Turn on the controller to automatically pair with your Apple device, or repeat the pairing process if the controller was previously paired with Nintendo Switch.

Pair, rename and connect Nintendo controllers from Bluetooth settings

Pair, rename and connect Nintendo controllers from Bluetooth settings

Using your Nintendo controller with iPhone, iPad or Apple TV

Once you have paired your Nintendo controller with your device, it can be used like any other game controller. Many games inside apple arcade and on the other side App Store have controller support.

The Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons are a unique controller because they are technically two different devices. Apple configured the linkage mechanism to show the Joy-Cons as separate devices, but the system treats them as a single controller.

The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, Gamecube Wireless Controller, and other controllers pair and work in the same way. The iPhoneiPador Apple TV will recognize the controllers and map the buttons accordingly.

Customizable Options

Apple has a special game controller menu that only appears when a game controller is connected to the device. This menu allows users to assign each button and function on the controller other than the default settings.

Remap controller buttons, choose vibration levels and more with Apple's controller configuration tool

Remap controller buttons, choose vibration levels and more with Apple’s controller configuration tool

Each game may have several control cards that place buttons in awkward or hard-to-remember positions. This can be remedied by creating a personalized button map for each game on the device.

On the iPhone or iPad, navigate to the Settings app and select General, then select Game controller when a controller is connected. A user can create profiles from this menu and assign them to associated controllers and installed games.

The Apple TV allows custom controller profiles for each connected controller

The Apple TV allows custom controller profiles for each connected controller

On Apple TV, there is an option to select controller profiles in the Bluetooth menu. Select your game controller from the Bluetooth menu you previously paired the controller with, then choose the desired profile or create a new profile.

Remark: Customizing controller functions will not work for Nintendo controllers in the first developer beta. Expect this to be fixed before the final release.

Buy a Nintendo Switch controller

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