Apple is getting serious about iPad gaming with better gamepad and keyboard support

Apple is greatly improving its gaming support in iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS. The biggest additions are support for controller button remapping, haptics, rumble, motion, and even the ability to properly use a keyboard and mouse for iPad gaming.

Game developers and players have long been asking for zone-based rumble and haptics support, and it’s finally coming later this year. Developers will be able to program feedback into their games, so players can feel specific things like the recoil from guns or explosions.

Apple is also planning to support some controllers with motion inputs, like Sony’s DualShock 4 controller. This includes support for the Lightbar, allowing Apple developers to change the color of the light on the controller when a health bar decreases for example. The touchpad surface on the DualShock 4 will also be available to game developers, with two-finger tracking as well as support for the touchpad’s button.

Apple is finally adding support for the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 in its upcoming iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS updates. This will include support for the four paddle buttons, and even button remapping. Apple’s new button remapping is available globally for all controllers, and you’ll even be able to adjust buttons on a per app or game basis.

All of these additions are solid improvements for gamepad use across Apple’s devices, but the company is also providing the ability to play games on an iPad with a keyboard and mouse instead of just a gamepad or the touchscreen.

Currently, you can try and use a keyboard for iPad games but you can’t press multiple keys at once so the support is really lackluster. Mouse support for current iPad games also often requires additional clicks and feels unnatural, so Apple is allowing game developers to improve this, too.

This is great news for fans of first-person shooters, or games that require more precision for input. Apple will even allow game developers to disable pointer system gestures like the Dock or Control Center so games can take full advantage of fullscreen gameplay.

Alongside all of these input improvements, Apple is also overhauling its Game Center user interface. The refreshed design includes a new dashboard with a transparent layer on top of games that supports both landscape and portrait orientations. Apple has also redesigned its achievements section of Game Center, and made the entire look and feel of the app more consistent across iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and macOS.

All of these additions show that Apple has invested a lot of time into improving gaming across the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. Given the vast operating system improvements, it’s surprising that Apple hasn’t launched its own controller just yet that seamlessly switches between iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, and Macs like the company’s AirPods. It could be the hardware boost that gaming on the iPad and Apple TV needs.