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Apple TV will work with Xbox, PlayStation controllers: Learn the details

In preparation for Apple Arcade, TVOS is gaining some big-name gamepads.

Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
2 min read
Sarah Tew/CNET

The Apple TV has supported wireless gaming controllers for the past few years, but there are far better gamepads made for more robust gaming systems available. And starting with TVOS 13, you'll have two new options when it comes to getting your game on.

The addition of two new controllers comes at a time when Apple is readying the launch of Apple Arcade, a gaming service the company first announced in March. Exact details are still unclear, but the gist of the service is this: You'll pay a subscription fee (still unannounced) for access to 100 new and exclusive games on your Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Key games on the service include The Enchanted World, Where Cards Fall and Shinsekai: Into the Depths. There is currently no similar Android alternative

Expanded controller support is exciting. Not only will you have the option to use better hardware, but if you already have a compatible controller, it'll cost you nothing. Not to mention you'll already be familiar with the button layout.

There are a few aspects of the new controller support that remain unannounced, but we've rounded up a list of controllers, what we think the setup will entail and theorize any limitations.


Apple CEO Tim Cook announces Xbox One S controller support for TVOS 13 during the WWDC 2019 keynote. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Which controllers will work with Apple TV?

Apple announced added support for Xbox One S and PlayStation Dual Shock 4 controllers for the Apple TV with the release of TVOS 13 this fall.

The two new controllers join the already supported Made for iPhone (MFi) controllers such as the SteelSeries Nimbus.

What about the iPhone and iPad?

Don't worry, while Apple didn't mention iOS and iPadOS 13 would add support, iPhones and iPads will indeed work with both controllers.

Watch this: Apple announces multiuser and controller support for Apple TV

What about setup?

The controllers will likely use Bluetooth to connect to your Apple TV. Meaning, initial setup will consist of putting the controller in pairing mode, and then adding a new Bluetooth device to the Apple TV.

If you've ever added another Apple TV remote or an MFi controller, the process should be similar if not exactly the same.

Are there any limitations?

We don't know yet. Presumably, Apple will support the new controllers the same way it did MFi controllers, in that you're able to use them to do nearly everything on the Apple TV. For example, you can use a SteelSeries Nimbus controller to turn on the Apple TV, move through apps, select TV shows, and control playback.

Another aspect that's unclear is whether or not features such as rumble and headphone-out will work when the controllers are paired to an Apple TV, iPhone or iPad.


Sony claims the DualShock 4 has improved ergonomics, and it definitely feels different in your hand.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Where can I buy these controllers?

Just about anywhere. Xbox, PlayStation and even MFi controllers are commonplace. Amazon is a good place to start, but be sure to check your local gaming store like GameStop for deals on used controllers.

What about multiplayer support?

We aren't sure. However, the Apple TV supports multiple MFi controllers right now, so it'd make sense for the continued support of more than one device.