Starting with the Xbox Insider Program, Microsoft is bringing Xbox Series X|S connectivity and latency features to the Xbox One family of controllers.
There’s something to be said for the Xbox controller. Yes, Nintendo likes a good waggle, and the PS5’s DualSense has that oh so clever haptic feedback, but the Xbox controller? That’s the Toyota Hilux of the gamepad world.
That being said, there are some modern functions of the Xbox Series X|S controller that you will miss if you jump back to an Xbox One controller. Namely, around connectivity and latency.
In a firmware update that is being rolled out to the Xbox Insider Program, some of those foibles will be getting buffed on the Xbox One generation of controllers.
The Xbox One controller connects to its console via wireless, rather than Bluetooth.
That’s not to say Bluetooth isn’t supported with Bluetooth-enabled controllers, but if you pair your controller with something else – say, a smartphone – it won’t then wake up your console when you hit the “Nexus” button. If that happens, you need to go through the pairing process again. (What’s the “Nexus” button? We’re so glad you asked.)
The latest firmware update brings Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) support found in the Xbox Series X|S controller to the Xbox One version. In short? That means you’ll be able to have a controller paired with both your console (over wireless) and with another device via Bluetooth.
You’ll also be able to switch between the two with a double-tap of the controller’s built-in pair button. That’s a real boon for people wanting to use their Xbox One controller for cloud gaming via Xbox Game Pass. Neat.
The Xbox Series X|S controller also features a latency reduction feature, known as Dynamic Latency Input. We don’t really know how it works but, in theory, it makes things feel snappier and more responsive.
Does it really work? It’s hard to say. Unless you can compare it against an Xbox Series X|S controller with the feature turned off – which we don’t think you can – then it’s tough to say for sure.
You’d have to presume there’s some benefit to it, though, because the latest firmware update also brings Dynamic Latency Input to the Bluetooth-enabled Xbox One controller, plus the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, and Xbox Adaptive Controllers.
It’s excellent news that they’re not forgetting the Xbox Adaptive Controller, the real winner of the “most innovative controller” award. (Sorry, DualSense.)
The firmware update is available to “Alpha Skip-Ahead and Alpha users” already, and will be made “available to additional flight rings in the weeks to come”.
Once these features are through the Xbox Insider Program, we can expect them to roll out to the Xbox One generation of controllers more widely in the future.