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Apple plans to map game control buttons to the Mac keyboard



Illustration for the article titled Apple Plans to Map Game Controller Buttons to Mac Keyboard

Photo: Joanna Nelius / Gizmodo

As part of its ongoing mission to improve the way iPad and iPhone apps run on M1 Macs, Apple has added game controller emulation to MacOS Big Sur’s current 11.3 beta. Basically, Apple is trying to make its M1 Macs more like gaming PCs.

According to MacRumorsrunning an iPad or iPhone app on an M1 Mac, adds a new game control option when you open Settings from the app. When turned on, the new option assigns the buttons on your controller to the keyboard and mouse, so you can play games with the external devices instead of the controller.

The control’s left thumb stick is mapped to the WASD keys, and the right thumb stick to the mouse. (Logical.) The A button becomes the space bar, the X button becomes the Q key, the Y button the E key and the B button the F key. Finally, L1 is bound to Tab, L2 to Shift, R1 to R, and R2 to mouse.

But instead of having dedicated key bindings for specific actions in the game, it seems like whatalways the A or L2 buttons are mapped to specific keys on a Mac keyboard without a way to bind them again. This can change from game to game, depending on how the developers map actions in the game to the controller buttons. From a PC gaming perspective, this can make playing certain games via keyboard and mouse on your Mac uncomfortable and cumbersome – and confusing from one game to another.

Let’s say the Tab key causes your character to curve in one game, but opens your inventory in another game. And maybe the A button lets you jump in some games, but you use it to pick things up in other games. There are certain key bindings that have become a tradition across several genres in PC games (such as pthe space bar to jump and ctrl to crouch) which Apple does not stand for here. Stardew Valleyhave their own keyboard controls for macOS, for example, so why not let someone use them instead of mapping the control buttons from the iOS version of the game to different keys?

It also seems like things can get a little confusing if you map a PlayStation controller to the keyboard and mouse instead of an Xbox controller. Would the Q key be the PlayStation X button or the PlayStation Square button, since it is in the same position on the controller as the Xbox X button? Seems quite annoying (and confusing) to have to remember which keyboard keys are which game controller button and which keys do what in each game. Apple would be better off letting users tie their own keys to the games they play instead of forcing them to use one specific layout for each game.

M1 Macs support PS and Xbox controllers, not to mention the Big Sur beta adds PS5 and Xbox One X controller support. So why Apple chooses to handle PC game controls this way instead of letting app developers map out the best key bindings for their games is not clear. Right now it istopics like sticking with a controller to play iPad or iPhone games on the M1 are the best way to go here.


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