Android 11 on the Google Pixel vastly improves Nintendo Switch Joy-Con and Pro Controller support
With cloud gaming at the forefront of mobile gaming discussions thanks to the upcoming launch of Microsoft’s xCloud service, we’ve been looking into the state of controller support on Android. Back in Android 11 Beta 1, we noticed that Google added a whopping 84 new controller mappings, meaning that the new Android release can recognize inputs from 84 new gaming controllers. A lot of the newly supported controllers were from third-party gaming accessory makers because Android already supports the original gaming controllers for the big 3 gaming consoles. While Android has supported connecting to the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons since 2017 and the Pro Controller since 2019, the latency from both controllers is unbearable. Thankfully, though, Google has finally fixed the major connectivity and latency issues with the Android 11 release for Pixel phones.
Here are two videos I recorded showing off the differences in connectivity and latency when the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons are paired with a Google Pixel 4 running Android 10 versus a Google Pixel 3a XL running Android 11. Note how in the video with the Pixel 3a XL, the LEDs for the syncing status aren’t going haywire, my inputs are recognized almost immediately, and the joysticks seem to send inputs in all directions.
The game I’m playing in these two videos is Super Mario Sunshine, a Nintendo GameCube title emulated using Dolphin Emulator. Dolphin Emulator runs better on the Pixel 4 with its Snapdragon 855 versus the Pixel 3a XL with its Snapdragon 670, but you can still clearly see the difference with the improved controller support.
The improved Nintendo Switch Joy-Con and Pro Controller support on the Google Pixel isn’t necessarily because of the Android 11 update, though. The Android 11 update for the Pixel just happens to have the necessary kernel driver that improves compatibility. The kernel driver adds proper support for both the Joy-Cons and the Pro Controller, with “little to no user calibration” needed. However, the Joy-Cons are still treated as separate input devices, so you may need to use the Joy-Con Enabler app to get certain apps to recognize them as a single controller.
Thanks to XDA Member bylaws for the tip!