How to Use The Xbox Adaptive Controller on Android

Photo showing an Android tablet with Sonic the Hedghog Classic running on it and an XAC next to the tablet.

Released on Xbox and Windows 10, the Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC) is a device that acts as a hub to connect compatible joysticks and buttons to create a customised controller. In a recent post we looked at how to connect the XAC to be used to play games on iOS devices following the iOS 14 update. The XAC can also be used natively as a compatible game controller for Android devices and game apps which are compatible for gamepad controller input as an alternative to touch, such as with an MFi (Made For iPhone/iPod/iPad), Dualshock 4 or Xbox Wireless gamepad controller.

This post will talk through step by step how to connect the XAC to your Android device (click on the images to enlarge them). We also have an accompanying post that highlights some XAC compatible Android games here: as examples to get you started playing.

Step 1. Turn on Bluetooth

Once your compatible Android device is on, you can turn on Bluetooth by opening Settings, opening Connections, selecting Bluetooth and turn On:

Screenshots indicating you need to click on the Settings icon on your Android device, followed by the connections and turn Bluetooth on.

Step 2. Turn on and sync your XAC

Turn on your XAC using the Guide button on the top of the controller (the button with an Xbox ‘X’ icon on it) and press the Sync button to the right of the Y switch port on the back of the XAC. The light on the XAC should flash rapidly and you should see Xbox Adaptive Controller listed in the Available Devices list on your Android device:

Photos showing where the sync button is on the XAC and which light will illuminate when pressed.

Step 3. Pair your XAC

Select the discovered Xbox Adaptive Controller listed on your available devices. Depending on your device settings, you may need to enter your password to pair it.

For this device, it required approval of the Bluetooth pairing request:

Screenshots indicating when Bluetooth is on and teh Xbox Adaptive Controller is syncing, you can pair the controller by clicking on the 'Xbox Adaptive Controller' in available devices and accept pairing request.

Step 4. Set up your controls

Once paired, you can plug in the combination of joysticks and buttons you require to play and open a compatible game. You should be able to play the game using the inputs on the XAC itself alongside your external joysticks and buttons connected to the XAC. Many games will require additional inputs alongside those found on the XAC itself, so joysticks and switches will need to be added for these. Different games will require different inputs. An online search may help to discover what these are, or you may need to install and open a game to find out:

Top down view of a potential set up using the XAC, Ultrastik joystick and buddy buttons to work with controller supported games.

Step 5. Finding compatible games

There is not a specific method for filtering gamepad compatible games, but you can search for them in the search bar of the Google Play store e.g. by searching “controller compatible games”:

Screenshots of a search on Google play for controller compatible games.

Please be aware certain games may cost money to buy or have in-app purchases.

As we mentioned at the start of this post, we have listed a range of games which are compatible with the XAC to play on Android within a separate post as examples and a starting point to get playing.

For more information as to what joysticks and buttons can be used with the XAC, see our posts about the XAC joysticks we use at SpecialEffect: and also the switches we use: 

If you have any questions, do contact us.