We've been following the iControlPad project since it was first revealed in May 2008. A new video has been revealed showing the latest prototype hardware which has been significantly redesigned. Their blog explains:

What we got [in terms of feedback on the original design] was interesting, the design worked but obviously needed to be altered for each type of iPhone and the controls were a bit cramped, plus it was quite large to carry. We were not 100% happy with this. If we are going to do this we want to do it right.

As some of you know we have access to the parts used on the openPandora handheld - which has dual analogue nubs.

A sleepless night then resulted a huge design change.

Here's a new video of the hardware playing Mario Kart in emulation (on jailbroken hardware):

This project has always been more interesting than practical as it was originally limited to jailbroken hardware due to the SDK restrictions. The launch of iPhone 3.0 firmware and SDK, Apple announced that the dock connector is now accessible to hardware manufacturers, though we haven't seen it taken advantage of quite yet.

We've dropped them a line about the possibility of official SDK support, and we'll keep you up to date. Developers, of course, would have to provide direct support for such a device, though the developers of C64 the Commodore 64 emulator have already said they would support such a device.

[via Engadget]

  • Mitchell Hashimoto

    This guy needs to cut his finger nails. Its disgusting.

    • http://www.zodttd.com ZodTTD

      In response to my fingernails (lol). They're less than a millimeter long. Not much to cut there. I was working all day and the right one got messed up right before I did the video. Was so pissed. Knew someone would say something! ;)

      - ZodTTD

    • http://www.stormchild.net Stormchild

      What's truly disgusting is your disgraceful attitude about something so incredibly petty.

  • Jellybean

    Kinda cool I guess, even has dual analog sticks. But if I'm going to carry around another device in order to play action/driving games, then I might as well carry my PSP or DS instead....noh?

    • http://www.hbdia.com IzzyNobre

      That's my point exactly. This is such a dumb idea.

      Some people just cannot adjust to the new paradigms.

      • http://www.robokid.tv Robokid

        Well, except if you don't have a PSP, like i do. And this device would probably be cheaper, than a handheld.

      • GreyDawn

        But iPhone/Touch is SO limited as a full-out gaming system right down to screen size. I think the point is that the iPhone only works as a gaming system within its own boundaries, and if we're going to go adding things like this to it then it no longer is the same sort of product, but rather trying to be something that it is not and that other devices do in VASTLY superior ways.

  • Ravenblack

    I wouldn't be caught using this ugly black box. Yucks.

  • peelie

    @ravenblack that is not the finished case, i forget the technical name for such a case though!

    • http://deleted Don

      you mean prototype?
      Still looks too ugly to be an iPhone accessories though. They need to make it sleeker.

  • peelie

    also i believe the case will house a battery

  • Ravenblack

    Yes, yes, I know, it's a prototype.Just a snap reaction. But I wonder how slick it can possibly be. I hope it's nothing like this at the end of it. If it looks like a psp, it might be nice, but it would have people calling it a wannabe.

  • AIM-R8

    I think official SDK support would do a lot for this device. Looking forward to Street Fighter 4 and Tekken 6 on the iPhone!

  • Diablohead

    I much preferred the old long look to this one, looks like a bad and ugly gameboy clone.

    • http://www.chucksmith.de/ Chuck Smith

      Yeah, I recently held my old Gameboy up to my iPhone and it was a bit funny to notice how much bigger the Gameboy was. Anyway, I think it will look REALLY weird if I have to take a call while I have the iControlPad on. I wonder if they took into consideration that it's still a phone. Oh well...

      • AttackOfThePwned

        This redesign is suppose to support both the iPhone 3G/3Gs (not sure about original) and the iPod Touches. Remember the iPod Touch is a much slimmer device than an iPhone. Makes sense to make one design to support all iDevices. Also I think iPod Touch customers are more of the gamers than iPhone customers so again, making one design to support all is a good move financially speaking.

  • Ryoma

    This is sad, not only is clunky and impractical, it would be expensive, heavy, and mechanically complex. not to mention that needs like a dozen apis to be added to the sdk.

    they should have focused on releasing a small thumb analog thingy, that allowed more precise control while leaving the buttons on screen.

    the hard thing about iphone games anyway is the navigation, not the button pressing which works relatively well.

  • Tim

    that thing is ugly! I liked the old design way better...

  • http://www.rpg-fanatics.de crishnak

    http://www.icontrolpad.com/pad1.png

    It looked much better before the redesign...

  • Trotgar

    Why do the analogs have to be PSP like, in very uncomfortable spots?

    But anyways, it looks cool. Would be nice to play Aria of Sorrow etc. If this can run a GBA emulator.

  • Noah

    Wow, he's lucky he finished first in that 50CC cup.

  • Bulk Slash

    I would much rather have a small, separate joypad that uses Bluetooth, than plugging the phone into something. This would have the advantage of not requiring games to work in landscape to be playable.

    Ideally the controller should be about the same shape and size as the dog-bone controller for the top loader NES, but with four face buttons and L and R buttons on top.

    It would then be small enough and thin enough to fit into most pockets but big enough for the buttons to be usable. Admittedly there would be no analogue, but if you try to include too many controls you'll just end up with something huge and non-portable.

  • Brian

    The thing that is missing here is the trigger finger buttons. If you notice, he can't do the super turns in Mario Kart because he is missing the R and L buttons. Similarly, you'd be missing the ability to shoot on FPS.

    • http://www.zodttd.com ZodTTD

      There's L + R triggers on the back. I didn't use them since I am actually a Sega fan. Perhaps I should of played some Sonic games on genesis4iphone. ;)

  • ClaroAtaxia

    NO! The old design was WAY better! This looks way too big and clumsy. Please go back to the old design! I really like it!

  • MellowFellow

    What in the Christ is up with dudes thumbs?

  • Lions

    I need this. Yes it's ugly but it's still the prototype. There's just something to be said about hitting actual buttons while gaming. Maybe not for short casual games but it would definitely be nice as an option as this market matures.

    (Oh and yes, i'm one of those guys who built my own USB arcade joystick for Street Fighter 4. lol)

    • http://www.haiku-os.org nutela

      Definitely a must for some buttons smashers / brawlers but for emulated games as well. Everybody who thinks the iphone screen suffices is out of his mind or hasn't tried it.
      This is a great effort and I hope to buy something soon, I'd love to play some old games like zelda and mario on my iphone, esp. the n64 stuff, I wonder if the 3gs has the horsepower...?

  • SoyLocoMoco

    I think this looks useful. I find some games are just not fun to play on the iPhone due to difficulties with touch screen controls. If it's priced right, it would extend the usability of my iPhone and be much cheaper than getting a PSP or Nintendo DS system.

  • TiredOfMiniGames

    Where are the L&R buttons?!

    Pleas put the Analog stick in the xbox controller position.

  • BadSanta

    Looks like a fake,the video is interrupted right before the race starts.

    • SteffenMoss

      What's up with you fake-people running around the internet these days?

      MY GOD! That's fake! Look look! If you take the first scene, and blow it up with C4, it's actually candy. So it's fake.

      WTF man? Stop being so freaking annoying, and do some research before you start saying everything in this world is fake.

  • Cause007

    That thing has got to fold (like a DS) to make it reasonably portable. If there's even a chance of getting non-jail-broken game support, it's got to be portable.

    • http://www.zodttd.com ZodTTD

      There's three ways to handle a pad. Two of them come from cell phone keyboard designs - the slide out and the flip. Both these require higher product costs and would delay this product even further. I will forward these concerns along to the iControlPad team immediately though.

  • spiffyone

    It's a silly idea that only appeals to those who cannot grasp new paradigms, and mistake their failure to do so as a failure of the platform.

  • TKO

    If those analogue sticks can be tucked up a bit higher (and maybe the select and start buttons moved out of the way to accommodate) then it shouldn't be too bad. I don't think this has to be especially portable ..for me this would be something I'd tinker around with when I'm home. When I'm out and about I'd be using the conventional touch/tilt controls only.

  • http://www.zodttd.com ZodTTD

    Rough crowd here.
    So if I were to sell some iControlPad's early, I assume nobody here would be interested? Shame too.

    • HerbertKornfeld

      I'm very much interested. Sure, for games that are designed for the iPhone, touch controls can be made to work. But for older games that were designed for actual controllers, there is no substitute.

      It all depends on the game. Fieldrunners, by its very nature, is a better fit for the iPhone than it is for the PSP. In this case, touch controls are actually *better* than a d-pad. But for platformers and other old school games? Not so much. For all of you haters above, how's Earthworm Jim working for you with the touch controls?

      Nobody is going to make you use this product. And every game that supports it will still support touch controls as the default option. So this ill-will is very much misplaced.

    • HerbertKornfeld

      I know that this design isn't final, so I'd like to throw a few suggestions out there.

      It's been suggested that there will be a battery included. This is a great idea, and I'd like to see as big a battery as possible. I know that you're going to want to keep your costs down, but this is not something to skimp on. This will be a major selling point for this product.

      And if it's not too late to add in another major feature, I'd love to see it come with better-than-the-iPhone stereo speakers.

  • Nonny

    I am interested and I've been on your subscription email list for this past year.

    I think this new prototype brings some great things to the table but I think it's a huge step backwards in terms of overall design. Whilst adding dual analog sticks an un-cramping the button layout is an improvement in terms of ergonomics and control you cant get away from the fact this device has moved from being a slim attachment to a bulky non-portable add-on.

    I really believe for it to be really successful it needs to find that happy medium and aim to be either clamshell (DS) or perhaps even slide-out dual-layer (PSP Go!)... I would argue given the shape of the iphone the PSP GO! would be the device to model this on if at all possible.

    Great progress though.

  • http://www.zodttd.com ZodTTD

    Assuming the iControlPad team and I go with a design that doesn't flip or slide out, what could be feasibly done to please the mass of gamers waiting for this device?

    Yes, it doubles the width of the phone/ipod, but this design allows for a few key points as mentioned earlier in the articles out there:
    - This design allows for an internal battery which extends the power of the iPhone and iPod for longer trips.
    - There's now room for two analog nubs.
    - Instead of needing to buy an iControlPad for each type of Apple handheld you have, this design allows for support of all devices.
    - There are L + R triggers. They are currently positioned on the back in a somewhat odd spot on this prototype. They're still being finalized, but they are included.

    Knowing this, what can be done to include the above features and still please those who are not satisfied? Considering the iControlPad will be very affordable too, I'm hard pressed to find a solution to these complaints.

    Also, any preference of the color of the iControlPad? This prototype is black, but some have noted above that they don't want it to be.

    I appreciate this feedback.

    • Felipe

      First and foremost let me tell you that what you are doing is amazing. I would buy this Control Pad the day it comes out. As for the product itself, I think that even though you have made great progress, you should keep it as small as possible. The old design was perfect because it was small and portable. Adding two analog nubs would be amazing, but then you would add too much size too it. Since the iPhone has a touchscreen, this can be used as a "analog stick" (kinda like Modern Combat to look around). One analog nub or a directional pad is perfect for the iDevices. Adding buttons (L and R, A, B, X and Y, Select and Start) would put the finishing touches. The battery is certainly a great idea, though, but I dont know how much size that might actually add. As for the color, Black and White is all you need for now, later on maybe you can add more colors, but just like the iPhone, Black and White is all you need.

    • TKO

      {shrugs} ..There's nothing I'd really want changed about it. Looks pretty good as is. (My suggestion about maybe moving the analogue nubs up to a similar level to the d-pad still stands ..but it's not a dealbreaker.) :)

      Good luck with it. Looks good!

  • NetRitual

    I bought my iPT for gaming. The games on it so far are pretty good, although most have the same theme, which is a casual experience. There are few games that try to grab you for more than a few minutes at a time, which is seen on other hand-helds. I do lump the iPT into the other hand-held gaming consoles, because that is what Apple is trying to do. They've already shown great interest in the portable gaming market, and have managed to carve out a chunk of it for themselves. However, I see the iPT/iPhone as the Wii of the console world. The control scheme is new, interesting, but impractical for long periods of gaming.

    That's why I want to see something like this work. Maybe, one that clips around the device, so that the D-Pad and buttons are over the top and bottom parts of the iPT/iPhone, and the extended battery is behind it. Makes it a bit thicker maybe, but less "DS without the folding-ness". Also, makes you wonder if they could make it fold.

  • Sardaukar

    Never mind the haters, ZodTTD - this rocks, but I preferred the old design myself.

  • Jerome

    The addition of the analog sticks and slightly less cramped ABXY buttons are improvements, but I think the layout of the original prototype was better. The main problem with this is that you couldn't fit it in a pocket, really cutting down on the convenience and portability.

    I think the best solution for adding controls to iPhone/iPod Touch would actually be to offer two different products. One would be similar to the first prototype but more pocket-sized, enclosing the device like a case with the controls overlapping the black borders beside the display. It would require that the button assemblies be very thin and the opening around the display beveled so as to not impede touch controls, but I think it could work pretty well. It could even be compatible with all iTouch devices by means of a two-piece design, using a different back piece for each form factor, similarly to Apple's dock adapters. The second option would be similarly built, but a fraction of the size, sliding easily on/off the bottom of the device and just adding directional control, like Ryoma suggested.

    BTW, spiffyone, I can understand if you don't like the idea of an add-on, but come on, people's preference for tactile controls is not due to an inability to "grasp new paradigms". This isn't an issue of prejudice or narrow-mindedness. Tactile buttons and directional controls are demonstratably more precise and less error-prone than on-screen equivalents, and also don't require you to cover up chunks of the screen with your thumbs.

  • Adams Immersive

    I would definitely consider buying a gaming add-on, even if I mainly used it home and not on the go. Holding an iPhone isn’t comfortable after a while, and just having a new way to grip the thing would be great! The additional controls would be even better (if supported and standardized across multiple hardware vendors). Toss in a battery for longer play, and I might have to get it!

    But this new design looks LARGER than the old, not smaller. I preferred the old PSP layout. (But the analog control is nice.)

  • sticklez

    depending on price (and app compatibility), I would buy it, and just leave it at home for when I play games there, but also I just like buying weird gadgets!

    I think if you could make it like the old rendering, but with an analog on top left, (move dpad lower left), and a analog on lower right, and two shoulder buttons, you would have the insane device everyone would have to have. Right now it is more novelty.

    I think the portability/ design outweighs the battery.

  • ClaroAtaxia

    I really liked the old design best, it looked very PSP-like and seemed way more portable (albeit, not THAT portable). Even if the old design limited the size of battery you are able to put in it, I still think it would be better received, and thus sell better, than this prototype. Is there a way to tweak the old design to still allow for a small Lithium Ion battery and be compatible with all iDevices?

  • http://www.sheiknet.com C Lewis

    To any poster that agrees that 'it would require dozens of APIs to be added to the SDK, I disagree.

    All Apple would have to do is create a HID API that supported a fixed set of external keyboard and game control APIs available via dock connector or Bluetooth and publish the spec to the SDK.

    If Apple were concerned about junking up the iPhone experience, it could control the software via the App Store and/or approval as a certified iPhone/iPod accessory.

    I seriously think Apple's biggest concern about these type of peripherals: #1 Junking up the uniform user experience, and #2 cannibalizing Mac sales.

  • http://www.sheiknet.com C Lewis

    ZodTTD:
    I feel that the controls should be simpler and placed closer to the bottom of the screen. I know there may be space/engineering constraints but it would be nice if a thumb could make it back up to the screen without having to let go of the controller.

  • HerbertKornfeld

    Another thing that's maybe worth considering is that some games (Pac-Man, vertical shooters, etc) use a portrait orientation. It would be nice if you could somehow place your iPhone into the iControlPad vertically.

    An inelegant solution would be to have a shell that you place in the hole where the iPhone normally sits when in landscape orientation. With something like this, you'd still be able to use this device with the rare vertical game.

    • monkeys

      C'mon. You're going to take that name but then ruin the joke by not writing like Herbert?

      • http://www.sheiknet.com C Lewis

        Yeah, what would y'all b*tches up in accounting say?

  • John

    Great idea. But I agree it needs to be slide out controls like psp. This will be a must have for me.

  • David P

    Wow.. What's with all the hate?! Someone is being innovative and building something for a device we all love. We're not forced to buy it if we don't want to... but can't we at least encourage the grass roots effort here?!

    I love my iphone. But I don't play some of the games for it as I find touch screen virtual pads to be cumbersome and poor excuses for the real thing. So, I limit myself to playing games that are built for the features that the iphone excels at.. accelerometer and touch screen.

    This would open up a whole new world for me.

    ZodTTD, in my opinion it HAS to include the analog sticks. Otherwise the device is limited to a small selection of games on the iphone, and emulation. Do what you have to do to the design to keep this feature!

    Keep up the great work.

  • eric

    ZodTTD-----
    as far as looks......well the first design was better (longer....but better) this new design however gives us the chance to charge our devices AS WE PLAY! something that should be a big factor so the question becomes do we the users want asthetically pleasing or functioning? some people have suggested a PSP-GO style well that may jump the price tag up up hell we already paid 100-400 for our devieces why not some more for this! i know i signed up THE SECOND DAY it was out when it showed up on mmi and ur Zod website.....but it doesn't really matter if its this look or the previous (which i prefer) i'd still buy it (at a reasonable price 30-130) hope i gave you some good input ZODTTD

  • http://www.sheiknet.com C Lewis

    To further underscore my blathering points, Apple SDK terms could dictate that apps that support external controllers must by default have on-screen controls/keyboard in order to be approved.

    That would eliminate apps that would be broken because they require hardware the user might not own or be carrying at that specific time.

    What would be cool is if the app recognizes at launch whether or not it an external input device is available.

  • http://www.sheiknet.com C Lewis

    To further underscore my useless and boring blathering points, Apple SDK terms could dictate that apps that support external controllers must by default have on-screen controls/keyboard in order to be approved.

    That would eliminate apps that would be broken because they require hardware the user might not own or be carrying at that specific time.

    What would be cool is if the app recognizes at launch whether or not an external input device is available.

  • Ed

    I'd guess the official SDK says that addons can only be used with single apps. I'd guess anyway. It's the kind of thing Apple would say.

    As for this prototype - how about putting some controls on the BACK? Most controls are still usable without being visible and it could significantly reduce the footprint of the addon.

  • Barcelona

    Please please stick with the original design. This new design might be more functional but less practical and portable. At the end of the day, we want something that can fit in our pockets.