Historically iOS Gamers have been at a bit of a disadvantage when compared to Android and PC Gamers. Controllers that Apple certifies for iPhone and iPad lack clickable Analog Sticks. This isn’t a big deal in native iOS titles, but it quickly becomes a problem when streaming a game to your device. The good news is that this is changing, and Onecast is one of the first Apps to officially support R3 and L3 for Game Streaming.
iOS 12.1 expands the MFi Protocol
Apple takes a different approach to controllers for iOS Devices. They have their own connection standard called MFi. It focuses on enhanced security and performance. Outside of a few rare exceptions, controllers must adhere to the MFi standard in order to be compatible with your iPhone or iPad.
It’s readily apparent that Apple wasn’t thinking about Game Streaming when they designed the layout for MFi controllers. At first glance a MFi controller looks a lot like a Xbox 360 controller. Then you realize that’s its missing clickable R3 and L3 buttons.
Thankfully this limitation was corrected in iOS 12.1. Now accessory manufacturers are welcome to include R3 and L3 buttons on their official iOS Controllers.
Controllers are beginning to hit the market
You might have surmised that existing MFi controllers still won’t support R3 and L3 buttons. We’re talking about an update that requires new hardware. It will take some time before a range of these new controllers becomes available. However there is one new controller that can be purchased right now.
The Rotor Riot RR1800 is available today, and it does include support for R3 and L3 buttons. It’s worth noting that this controller is not completely wireless. You’ll need to connect a short lightning cable from the controller to your iPhone or iPad. However this isn’t necessarily a bad thing when using it for Game Streaming. Wired connections offer lower latency when compared to wireless options.
Onecast Update adds support for R3 & L3
We mentioned earlier that support for R3 and L3 in Apps is not automatic. Each developer that is interested in supporting R3 and L3 buttons will need to update their software. On an exciting note, Onecast has recently done just that.
Onecast is an iOS and Mac App that allows you to stream your Xbox One to an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. We tested Onecast recently and found it’s performance to be quite good. One detail that we noted in our review was that the best experience came from staying close to your console and using your native Xbox controller. This was largely because of the lack of R3 and L3 buttons on MFi controllers.
That’s all changed with this update. iOS 12.1 paired with a newer MFi controller should be a very good option for playing your Xbox over longer distances.
Not a Perfect Solution
While the addition of R3 and L3 support for controllers is exciting, there are still a few opportunities. One is that only a single controller exists that supports enhanced MFi functionality. Additional manufacturers will hopefully follow suit, but that’s not a guarantee.
Also, iOS 12.1 does not address the lack of a select button on MFi controllers. This button is nowhere near as important as the R3 and L3 buttons, but it’s still an aspect of a standard controller that’s missing. Apps like Moonlight and Onecast address this problem by adding a virtual select button to your screen. That’s great, but it would still be better to have a physical button.
Another concern is that many MFi controllers tend to feel cheap when compared to what we’re used from Microsoft and Sony. This is one issue that is up to accessory manufacturers to solve. Nothing is preventing them from building a better quality product. Hopefully this shortcoming is addressed in upcoming controllers.
Also published on Medium.
Josh is a long-time Gamer and Technology Guru. He is known for his writing and troubleshooting skills. Josh can solve just about any problem, and is especially good at getting to the bottom of technology challenges. He has a background in Networking and holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree. When he’s not gaming, Josh can be found blogging, testing new tech, and interacting with Flickstiq’s social media following. He lives in Ohio with his wife and children.