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How do I connect Joy-Cons to an iPhone or iPad?

How do I connect Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons to an iPhone or iPad?
Unbridled joy: Nintendo's controller now work with Apple kit

Gaming on Apple’s iPhones and iPads is an enjoyable, but occasionally clumsy way to spend time. Waggling the device in the air, whilst trying to simultaneously press three points on the screen isn’t a comfortable experience, but iOS 16 (or iPadOS 16) has a solution. Apple has added compatibility for Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons, allowing the pocket-sized controllers to jump platforms. Setup is straightforward and well executed making it very easy to connect Joy-Cons to an iPhone or iPad.

How to connect Joy-Cons to Apple devices

Once your Apple devices have updated to either iOS 16 or iPadOS 16 (the update is due in Autumn 2022), they’ll be able to communicate with the Joy-Cons. The connection process is identical on iPads and iPhones, but for our step-by-step guide, we’ll use an iPad.

Launch the Settings app on your iPad and from the left-hand panel, select Bluetooth (highlighted in blue). Ensure that the Bluetooth slider is set to the On position. At the moment, the Joy-Cons do not appear, but we’ll fix that.

Pairing a Nintendo Switch Joy-Con to an iPad (or iPhone).

Pairing Button on Nintendo Switch Joy-Con

On the Joy-Cons, press and hold the pairing button (we’ve highlighted it in blue). In a few moments, the four LEDs will begin to strobe.

iPad Bluetooth Detects Nintendo Switch Joy-Con

The iPad should now detect the Joy-Con (listed under ‘Other Devices’). Tap it.

iPad connected to Nintendo Switch Joy-Con

The Joy-Con will now appear in the list of connected devices. Repeat this process with the other Joy-Con controller.

Should I connect both Joy-Cons to my iPhone or iPad?

Joy-Cons give the best gaming experience as a pair. There are more buttons to attack and dual analogue sticks. Slotting the controllers into a Joy-Con grip gives Nintendo’s controllers the feel of something substantial like an Xbox controller.

The beauty of Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons is that you can use a single Joy-Con as a controller whilst giving the other to a friend for multiplayer gaming.

Can I use it any every game?

No, or at least not yet. Connecting Joy-Cons to an iPhone or iPad is part of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16, but until more game developers update their software to use them, you’ll just have to wiggle your device in the sky.

During my test, Real Racing 3 detected my Joy-Cons, but gameplay was not possible. I’m sure this will change very soon.

However, Asphalt 8: Airborne worked really well. The game gave hints on how to steer the vehicle with the Joy-Cons and the responsiveness of the Nintendo Switch controllers on the iPad was impressive.

As you can see, it’s easy to connect Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons to an iPhone or iPad and as iOS 16 evolves, more games will be able to use Joy-Cons in single and multiplayer mode.

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About the author

Lee Grant

I can normally be found attacking things with screwdrivers in my small computer repair business or writing a column for PC Pro magazine.

I am also trying to solve a mystery involving David Bowie.

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