New in iOS 7: support for third party game controllers

By , Jun 11, 2013

iOS 7 beta SDK

As with any major Apple event, where numerous announcements are made, I feel like some of what was talked about yesterday flew under the radar. Specifically, there were several cool features in iOS 7 that didn’t get enough attention.

One of those features is support for third party gamepads. Physical controllers for iPhones and iPads have long been left to the ThinkGeeks and the Kickstarter projects, due to the lack of support. But that’s going to change with iOS 7…

Notice anything interesting in the image above of a slide from Apple’s WWDC keynote yesterday of new iOS 7 SDK features? MFi game controllers. MFi is Apple’s ‘Made for iOS’ program, which gives 3rd party accessory-makers access to its tech.

We don’t have many details about the newfound gamepad support, but the folks over at TouchArcade point to a vague guide that Apple posted to its developer site yesterday that has basic guidelines on how game controllers should be used.

gamepad ios 7 gamepad ios 7 2

The one on the left looks like your typical iPhone game controller, with a large opening in the center that allows you to view your handset’s display. And the one on the right is obviously more of your standard, standalone-type gamepad.

TouchArcade is saying that they’re hearing that accessory makers will have one common interface to code to, so game developers can quickly and easily add support. The site even mentions that there may be prototype controllers floating around WWDC.

The implications here are enormous. Imagine firms like Logitech and Belkin getting into the iOS controller space. And imagine those controllers being compatible with every major iOS game. Now imagine what all of this could mean for the Apple TV.

Stay tuned.

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  • http://twitter.com/Tkf530 Tristan

    Oh boy! iBeacons!

  • Jason

    This cold be a ig leap forward. However good the controls on say MC 4 are, Ive been fortunate to play MC 3 (which supports a controller, wheras MC 4 doesn’t – go figure) and Asphalt using a controller and an iPad and it is like a different world for these games that need dextrous movement. I can still play thse games easily using the normal tilt or touch controls but the controller adds a game console dimension.

    Really looking forward to controllers that all share a common protocol. It’ll be great if game designers support this, which I presume they will if the API provides a simple protocol for them to adhere to.

  • Boss

    Would help if they put a bigger screen on their iPhone

    • Rowan09

      Why would want to bring a controller to play games on their iPhone? They will make a bigger screen iPhone though but I would only use my controller at home with my Apple TV mirroring.

      • Scott

        Well I am with you on that atleast but keep in mind that people by the PS Vita. The screen size probably isn’t much bigger. With that said though I would go with the stand alone controller to control my iphone or ipad while being mirrored to my ATV3 on my 47″ LED 1080p TV.

    • Kaptivator

      Because its an iPHONE….not iPHABLET. Get an iPad if you need more space. Just busting your balls. However, many dont want a bigger screen on a phone. Im kinda glad that they are implementing voice only facetime (or whatever they are calling it) Reason….For those who are wanting something bigger, they can buy an iPad Mini and use the facetime voice and sorta kinda have the best of both worlds…A lot more screen real estate, iOS7 and phone like communication with your earpiece for privacy. Just my thoughts on how to make lemonade out of lemons for those wanting a bigger screen.

  • ap3604

    I never understood why Apple doesn’t simply come out with their own controller. Seems mind boggling easy and would allow them to dominate the mobile gaming market.

    • Rowan09

      I agree I was thinking about this the other day.

    • Scott

      I would definitely buy it as long as it is like the PS and Xbox controller with analog sticks and Dpad. I can live with either kind of configuration but I enjoy the layout of the Xbox controller way better than the PS controller.

    • Víctor Moreno Escudero

      Because there is a lot of people in the world, some people want a controller that attaches to their phone, others want a Bluetooth one, others a portable (and little) one, different colors, styles, … It’s just easier for apple and better for the consumer to have variety in price, style and utility instead of an official one. And it’s better for apple because they don’t want to start making a lot of product again, which almost ruined them once.
      P.S Sorry about my English, here in Spain we aren’t thaugh as well as we would want to :)

  • GuyBey0ndC00L

    Apple finally support controllers for gaming in iOS 7. This can hurt XboxOne & PS4 to a point. This would make me buy more games for iOS.

    • Scott

      Exactly. I do not see a PS4 or XB1 in my near future. I see my Xbox 360 lasting me a while longer and if they do come out with a controller that I can finally use on some of my FPS games on my iphone and ipad I will probably be going with more iOS games in my future.

  • Smeltn

    I purchased a Game Duo last year and while I am limited to just Gameloft “supported” games, I can use it on both the iPad and iPhone and it streams to Apple TV just fine. It honestly is like having a console on the go. I can’t wait for people like Logitech, etc to make awesome game controllers that will work with all games.

    • GuyBey0ndC00L

      I can’t wait for all around support for controllers.

  • Scott

    Well if this happens it looks like I might be going this route for my basic gaming needs on ipad or iphone (via airplay to ATV3). After watching both the PS4 and the XB1 videos and the price they are at I think it is going to be a long time before I buy a new console for gaming. My current Xbox 360 Arcade with my original Xbox 360 HDD (had the red ring of death on the first 360 I had but kept the HDD) better hold out for a few more years.

  • Alfiejr

    this is HUGE. this can turn any iPod touch, for example, into a Vita type game player with a third-party snap-into frame with standard toggles/buttons (see diagram above). combined with an Apple TV, you have a very inexpensive “console” setup with lots of inexpensive games. this could be a real “killer” API, so to speak, and seriously disrupt the game console market.

    the hard core gamers will still want their $50 XBox One/PS4 epic games. but everyone else will prefer 10 really good $5 games instead.

  • Gorgonphone

    Ah yes sony and ms wont like this they will have to lower their game prices lol

  • momerathe

    This could be huge. I’m a fan or action-adventure/hack and slash games, and while there are a few semi-decent touchcreen ones, there’s nothing that quite comes close to the responsiveness of a good multi-button controller.

  • http://WorldstarHipHop.com/ Joshua Jones Makaveli

    Lol iOS turning into a WiiU ish xD

  • Jeff Mason

    I would buy a controller if it supports games like Sonic CD, Minecraft PE, Temple Run, etc.

  • MisterMan

    I think with will be beneficial for parents with children. seems quite easy to slip into a bag or something of such. but i think the only problem would be draining battery life. with the controller you’re more tempted to play versus without the controller. so why no have the controller charge somehow when on standby??

  • johnrhee

    This will help put on future video game releases that may not come on PS Vita nor Nintendo 3DS/WiiU but for the iPad/iPhone. Sports games like NBA 2K14 (at a later date for iPad/iPhone, MLB 2K14 if there will be one coming in March of next year, NCAA Football 15 in some sort of the new name, Madden NFL 15, NHL 15, and FIFA 15 will be awesome on the new game controllers.