SteelSeries have announced availability of their new MFi certified Nimbus+ wireless gaming controller. Much like the original Nimbus released in 2015, Nimbus+ is specifically designed for Apple devices adding some improvements to the original.
The new model offers two dedicated menu buttons, "new Hall effect magnetic triggers", clickable analogue sticks and an additional ten hours of play over the original - charging once again via lightning port for added convenience.
The Nimbus+ is only the second MFi (made for iOS) controller to take advantage of clickable analogue sticks since the spec became available to manufacturers following the release of iOS 12.1 in Sep 2018.
While many owners of dedicated games consoles will likely use their PlayStation or Xbox controllers to game on iOS, iPadOS, macOS and tvOS, it should be noted that MFi controllers are validated by Apple for superior connection and lower latency. If you're like me and enjoy competitive games, the Nimbus+ may be your best bet.
The Nimbus+ wireless gaming controller comes packed with a iPhone mount for on-the-go gaming and can now be purchased for $69.95 from Apple retail or direct from SteelSeries on May 26th.
I love my surround sound and after ten years my cinema surround system continues to make up part of my premiere movie viewing experience. When I finish working for the day, I sit back on the sofa with a cup of tea and ask Siri to play something from my movie library or queue up one of the copious amounts of new episodic originals. It’s time to relax and immerse myself in story.
Here’s the thing: whilst I love the satisfying thuds and thunder from my system connected to the Apple TV, for my co-habitants and neighbours during the twilight hours its often to much; even when reducing loud sounds. So late night, I often revert to a discreet viewing experience through my AirPods. It’s a great feature let down by the limitation of only being able to pair one set of Bluetooth headphones at a time.
The lack of audio-sharing on Apple TV is disappointing; a feature shipped with iOS 13.1 that allows users to share the audio they are listening to with a friend by connecting two pairs of compatible Bluetooth headphones to a single supported Apple device. It’s a feature many have been crying out for on Apple TV but it’s an omission that Twelve South have inadvertently solved with their AirFly Pro and AirFly Duo accessories provided your TV has a headphone jack or is connected to a sound system that does.
Originally touted as a way of connecting AirPods to in-flight entertainment systems on aeroplanes, Twelve South’s AirFly accessory had long been on my radar, so when the AirFly Pro Bluetooth adapter dongle became available to purchase at my local Apple Store last week I couldn’t resist.
The premise for their original AirFly was simple: plug AirFly into the 3.5mm headphone jack, pair your Bluetooth headphones, sit back and listen. Two years later and AirFly Pro sports Bluetooth 5.0 allowing two simultaneous Bluetooth headphone connections and the ability to send audio the other way at the flick of a switch.
Given this device will work with literally anything with a traditional 3.5mm jack, I wanted to test how well AirFly Pro would work with Apple TV and two sets of AirPods Pro set to transparency mode. The kind of setup perfect for my friends who are in the early stages of parenting – offering a balance of not waking the new born but being aware should the new mum or dad be called to attention.
AirFly Pro comes with a handy Keychain cap (though I’d replace it pretty pronto as its not to robust), a USB-C to USB-A charging cable, a tiny travel bag, quick start guide, owners guide and one years limited manufacturers warranty.
Setup is relatively straightforward and happens on-device with no additional software to download. Just press and hold the power button for 4 seconds to put AirFly Pro in pairing mode, after which, simply put your Bluetooth headphones into pairing mode and wait for both to pair to one another; indicated on AirFly Pro by a tiny white light. You can add an additional pair by pushing the power button twice to repeat the pairing process. Then you just stick the dongle into the headphone jack and you’re set.
In my few days of testing, AirFly Pro offered a stable bluetooth connection with next to no difference in audio quality, interference, signal range or latency compared to pairing my AirPods Pro directly to Apple TV 4K.
Playback time was the advertised 16 hours from a 2 hour charge whilst paired with one set of AirPods Pro – dropping to 10 hours when connected to two pairs.
One downside to using AirFly Pro to connect AirPods indirectly to your device is that you do lose the ability to pause playback when taking out one AirPod or by pressing its stem. It’s a small gripe, however if you occasionally fall asleep whilst watching TV you may find your Up Next queue is cleared by the time you wake.
I’ve used AirFly Pro successfully with gym equipment, my Nintendo Switch and some legacy iOS devices that don’t support iOS 13’s audio sharing feature, and I’m looking forward to trying it out on my next long-haul flight (hopefully to WWDC20).
Better yet whilst the Apple Store feature editorial specifically highlight AirPods and Beats wireless headphones, AirFly’s product doesn’t restrict you to using the feature with Beats or Apple headphones equipped with H or W wireless chipsets. I tried Bluetooth headphones from Bose, Sony, Samsung and Bang & Olufsen and all worked great!
I favour AirPlay 2 at home and paired with the fact that I don’t drive (god bless Transport For London) AirFly Pro’s AUX IN feature which is best used for “hire cars, boats and non-Bluetooth speakers” is a nice feature I probably wont use.
Had the cheaper AirFly Duo been given the same global distribution I would have opted for that instead of AirFly Pro for my use case.
AirFly Duo offers 20+ hours of playback and has a simpler pairing process with dedicated pairing buttons for both sets of wireless headphones.
Twelve South’s AirFly Pro comes recommended. It’s versatility justifies its price, fitting into so many different use-case scenarios.
As winter draws near, I’m looking forward to collaborating on playlists and sharing a casual walk along London’s SouthBank with an AirFly Pro in tow. Here’s to finding a Keira Knightley to my Mark Ruffalo.
AirFly Pro is available globally at Apple Stores and Apple.com whereas AirFly Duo can be purchased directly from Twelve South. AirFly Pro is currently listed at $54.99 with AirFly Duo priced at $49.99.
Announced at WWDC 2018 as part of tvOS 12 – home control system integration – including HomeKit and Siri – will soon be made available to Crestron customers.
Through a software and firmware update expected this week, Crestrons TSR-310 handheld touch-screen remote will be the first in its category to adopt Apple TV, Siri and HomeKit control.
Crestron’s TSR-310 is a great alternative for the Siri Remote. With a price tag of $1000, Crestron customers can control multiple Apple TVs through either voice control or the remote’s integrated three inch touch display.
Available now via Crestron SIMPL Windows programming software for 3-Series® controllersThis enhanced partnership gives you the power to take your clients’ user experience and lifestyle to new heights with: IP Control:The ability to browse Apple TV content with lightning-fast IP control via the award-winning TSR-310 touch screen remoteVoice Control via Siri: Have Siri find specific content for you with a simple press of the microphone button on the TSR-310 remote and voice command. How to get started
The SIMPL Windows release is available now:
Make sure you are running the Device Database 106.05.001.00 or later
For the TSR-310 make sure you are running the latest software and firmware posted here
For 3-Series control systems, visit the corresponding product pages to download the latest software and firmware
Sample programs can be found here
The device and Crestron databases, will enable this functionality in SIMPL Windows. After updating the firmware you can use the built-in help file to program HomeKit® integration. Refer to the provided documentation for guidance on how to integrate these modules into your programs.
The Apple certified 3-Series SIMPL Windows firmware update will include:
Support for 3-Series control systems to enable these new features
SIMPL Windows module and TSR-310 extender, with documentation on how to make these new features work in SIMPL Windows
Control Apple TV with TSR-310
Securely connect TSR-310 and HomeKit
Control multiple Apple TV units via TSR-310, linked by their device names
Route voice via TSR-310 microphone to currently selected Apple TV, once correctly connected in SIMPL Windows
For control via other devices including the HR-310, touch screens, or mobile app, you will need to provide a secondary means of control such as IR or CEC.
One of the biggest-take aways from this years WWDC was the partnership between Apple, Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony PlayStation. Resulting in Sony and Microsoft licensing the use of their popular controllers on iOS, iPad OS, tvOS and Mac OS. Inside a packed McEnery Convention Centre, the news was met with the kind of hysteria normally reserved for a console release from either of the big gaming brands, but there was good reason.
Up until now the promise of console style gaming experiences on Apple devices never fully materialised – with Apple’s MFi controller program, a major sticking point in the early days for everyone involved. With the announcement that two universally loved controllers were coming to Apple, developers could believe again. All those hours put into a console-like Apple gaming experience’s would no longer be in vane. This one announcement made gamers happy, developers happy and shareholders, happy! After all, Apple Arcade had just opened itself up to 150 million potential subscribers across the globe – and before the service had even launched. The move reaffirmed the importance being placed on Apple’s upcoming subscription service.
As a thrill-seeker I immediately installed iOS 13’s first developer beta on my iPad Pro and connected my DualShock 4. Within moments I was playing games like gimbills’ Trigonarium and Studio Rains’ Teslagrad the way I’ve always wanted to. After years of struggling by with a Nimbus controller, the iOS 13 gaming experience is close to perfection. “So, what’s with the title?” I hear you ask. Why does Apple need its own games controller?
The simple answer to that question is optics. Every time I took out my DualShock 4 to play a game during my down-time, members of the general public didn’t see a guy playing games on an iPad. They saw someone playing PlayStation. That glowing light, the clicky-clack of buttons and the way my digits grip the controller say to anyone with even an iota of interest that I’m playing PlayStation. Such is Sony and Microsofts dominance in the gaming space, their brands often replace the term ‘games’ much like Google has replaced ’search’.
Sony and Microsoft recently entered a strategic partnership of their own. Seeing both companies work together on game streaming and A.I. technologies with the eventual goal , to see core PlayStation and Xbox gaming experience’s come to Apple platforms on a much wider scale in the near future. Both companies know that if their controllers are seen in coffee shops and on plane rides the world over, they continue to control mind-share before their services are ready to come out and play.
The unlikely possibility that Apple openly promotes and sells PlayStation and Xbox accessories within it’s stores leads me to believe that last weeks announcement at WWDC was just part of a bigger story. A story that could see the release of Apple’s very own games controller later this year.
Besides increased optics, what other benefits could potentially come with a first party gaming solution? Well whilst I wouldn’t want to over-speculate on what I’d like to see, it’s clear existing technologies in Apple’s H and W chips would improve the pairing process. Add to that; Family Sharing, Screen Time, Siri and a focus on accessibility and it’s clear there’s potential for another high scoring Apple product.
Let us know on Twitter what you’d like to see in a first party gaming solution, or indeed, if you’d like to see one at all.