Xbox controller update delivers improved iPhone connectivity with iOS 15

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A firmware update pushed out by Microsoft on Wednesday allows gamers to keep their Bluetooth-enabled Xbox controller paired with both the console and a smartphone like Apple's iPhone.

Available to members of the Xbox Insider Program, the firmware delivers Bluetooth Low Energy compatibility to Xbox One controllers with Bluetooth, Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 and Xbox Adaptive Controllers. The new function will enhance cross-platform connectivity and reduce latency, Microsoft said in a blog post.

Once the firmware is installed, the controller will remember one Bluetooth host, like an iPhone or Android handset, and one Xbox Wireless host. Users can switch between host devices by tapping the controller's pair button. Currently, gamers are required to manually move through the pairing process when transitioning between Xbox and iPhone.

"We are invested in expanding Xbox gaming beyond the console, so Xbox controllers need to work equally well on both Xbox consoles and Bluetooth devices and moving between all these devices needs to be easy," Microsoft says.

The firmware also delivers Dynamic Latency Input technology for a more responsive gaming experience on Xbox Series X|S consoles.

For now, the new cross-platform compatibility is restricted to Windows 10 PCs, Android and Apple devices running iOS 15 and above. It should prove a welcome addition to users who play Xbox Game Pass titles or App Store games that support controller input.

Microsoft is rolling out the update to Alpha Skip-Ahead and Alpha users today. It is unclear when the feature will be made publicly available.

Those interested in testing out the feature when iOS 15 launches — likely next Tuesday — can join Microsoft's Xbox Insider Program by downloading the Xbox Insider Hub on Xbox or a Windows 10 device.