Normally the words "companion app" would send me running for the hills. There are enough buttons on a keyboard already, I don't need more things happening on the small rectangle at the edge of my desk. Elite: Dangerous is slightly different, though. I'm not playing that with a keyboard, but with a flight stick—albeit an old flight stick with less buttons than a spaceship operator can use. As such, I've developed a somewhat awkward control system that utilises keyboard, mouse and flight stick. There has to be a better way.
Fortunately, for me and anyone in a similar position, there is. A couple of existing utilities have been repurposed by the Elite: Dangerous community to let you use your smartphone device, or even your voice, to handle some of the game's many controls.
Roccat's Power-Grid is an iOS and Android app that lets you sync your phone to your computer for use as a second control system. Its grid-based customisable buttons can be mapped to specific keyboard commands or macros, giving an easy visual guide that makes deciphering what does what a simple at-a-glance process. In the past, I've never found a use for its control mimicking systems. I'm perfectly capable of remembering what my inventory button is, thank you very much. I do however, forget which key activates my landing gear. That can be a problem when you mistake it for the key that jettisons all cargo.
There are already a bunch of Elite: Dangerous profiles available. I tried this one, which features some appropriately spacey visuals. I did need to change some of the key bindings, but it's a simple process of heading to the program's editor and defining the new keyboard commands. One tip: disable the Activate Button Sounds in the desktop program's settings. They are awful.
Using a wireless rectangle to control a spaceship is inherently futuristic. What's even more futuristic is using your voice, and having a computerised lady confirm your orders back to you. This is peak future. It doesn't get more future than this.
VoiceAttack takes your voice commands and translates them into keyboard presses. Unlike Power-Grid, however, it isn't free. It costs $8 to extend beyond the 21-day trial, and there's an additional cost too. With a quick Google search, you'll be able to find multiple Elite: Dangerous profiles for the app. However, the best we've found costs $5 to buy. With that, you get 1,000 sounds to enhance the experience—from confirming your commands to reading out the descriptions of commodity market purchases. I'll let these two videos demonstrate why it could still be worth the purchase.