Android 11 puts its game on with expanded gamepad support

For a time, it almost seemed that Android missed the mobile gaming train with more titles opting to go iOS first or even iOS only. Of course, Google's mobile platform does have thousands of titles, not all of them that noteworthy, but things have definitely improved these past years. It's almost ironic considering how Android has more open support for game controllers but that, also ironically, excludes some of the more popular ones. With Android 11, however, that list grows just a little with the addition of the Nintendo Switch Pro and the now-defunct Steam controllers.

Given the proprietary nature of Nintendo Switch controllers, it might not be that much of a surprise that it took this long for Android to officially support it. That said, the not-so-publicized changelog comes with the good news that the support covers both wireless Bluetooth and wired USB connections. Android gamers with Switch Pro Controllers will no longer have to spend extra on their mobile phone unless they want one that goes along with them wherever the phone goes.

The Steam Controller's case is a bit of an odd one, especially considering the controller itself has been officially discontinued. Still, there supposedly remains an active user community that will welcome this news with open arms. The downside? Only a wired USB connection was mentioned.

Although not exactly a game-changer (no pun intended), the expansion of controller support does give the assurance that Google hasn't completely forgotten Android's gaming capabilities. That's especially important in these recent times when mobile gaming is on the rise and Apple is only too happy to take advantage of that with Apple Arcade at the expense of Google's platforms.

Since this is a core Android 11 improvement, the new controllers will also work with Android TV, which has just been updated to Android 11 as well. This might actually make for a better case for these controllers with Google's campaign to make Stadia a household name in game streaming.