The Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con controllers are capable of more than just gaming. If Joy-Con drift hasn’t made you bananas, then you can detach the controllers (on the bigger, non-Lite Switch) and use them in a variety of different ways. Here are three of the most useful ones we’ve found.
The Spy Alarm app for the Nintendo Switch will set you back $3 (at the time of writing) and uses the infrared beams emitted by the right-hand Joy-Con on your Switch as invisible tripwires. You point the controller toward the area you want to monitor, and the device sounds an alarm and logs an entry every time the infrared beam gets broken.
There’s a range of up to a metre (39 inches), so it’s best used next to a door or a similar small space, rather than as a guard for an entire room (you don’t have to detach the Joy-Con, but you’ve got more flexibility if you do). The Nintendo Switch itself needs to be on to log what’s happening, though you won’t find out about any intruders until you get back and check the list of alerts that the app has recorded.
Inside the app you can pick between four different alarm sounds (you’ll need to mute the Switch if you want it to operate silently), and there’s also a sensitivity slider for tweaking how much movement is required to set off an alert.
Obviously this isn’t a professional-level security system, but in our experience, Spy Alarm works pretty well. As the Switch is battery-powered, you can use Spy Alarm just about anywhere you like, and it’ll set you back less than a proper motion sensor.
Android Camera Remote Shutter
Another handy use for your Joy-Cons (via Reddit) is as remote controls for the camera app on your Android phone. If you’re struggling to get a shot perfectly framed while you’re physically holding your smartphone, you can connect one of the Switch controllers to take the snap from a distance.
First you need to pair one of your Joy-Cons to your Android phone. Press and hold the small sync button on the side of the controller until the LEDs next to it start flashing, then add it as a Bluetooth device on your smartphone. On standard stock Android, you can do that by choosing Connected devices and Pair new device from Settings. Pick the Joy-Con when it shows up in the list to initiate the connection.
On Pixel phones, you should be able to take snaps with A on the right-hand controller. On Samsung phones, X and Y zoom out and zoom in, and B takes a photo. These methods do seem to be a little hit and miss for some users, so you might need to do some experimenting to get everything working.
None of the buttons on the left-hand Joy-Con will work on Android, but you can use the joystick on this controller to navigate and select (with a press). With the Android app open, you can highlight the shutter button and then select it to take a picture that way.
Gaming Controllers for Your PC
In addition to gaming on your Nintendo Switch, your Joy-Cons can also work with games on a Windows 10 computer. You can either use them individually or together as a pair, and the latter option works best for modern-day games that need two analogue sticks as inputs.
You need to pair your Joy-Cons with your PC first, which you can do by going to Windows Settings then choosing Devices, Bluetooth & other devices, and then Add Bluetooth or other device. To get the Nintendo Switch controllers into pairing mode, you need to press and hold the small sync button on the side until the lights start flashing.
Your Joy-Con controllers will work right away, to some extent, but it depends on the game that you’re playing and how your system is configured — it’s possible that you’ll have to delve into the controller options for your games and do some tinkering there to get everything working properly.
You may get improved results by installing the BetterJoy utility, which includes drivers to get the Joy-Cons working nicely with Windows, and can get the operating system to see them as a single controller, too. It also includes drivers that will enable you to turn on controller support in Steam, though there are a few extra steps to go through to get everything set up. See the BetterJoy wiki for details.