Remember the iControlPad? We've been following its development since mid-2008. In early 2009, they released a video of the unit being used, and in November it was revealed that the product had undergone a complete redesign. Things have been relatively quiet on the iControlPad front since then, until recently, when they announced that they're taking pre-orders and plan to ship the original run of units in a week.

The bad news? Well, they make no attempt to hide the fact that you're going to be an early adopter, and admit that software that supports it will be scarce initially. There's also the fact that the iControlPad will set you back a hefty $74.99, and until developers start supporting it, using it will require jailbreaking.

The iControlPad does have some cool features though. First off, aside from its d-pad it sports enough buttons and analog nubs to make anyone in to emulation smile, and its internal firmware is completely upgradeable to support future features or workarounds to bypass various restrictions. Instead of any kind of proprietary dock port, it uses Bluetooth so it can work with basically any smartphone, console, or computer capable of connecting to it. It's also designed in a way that it's compatible with a number of different devices via a clever clamping system to hold all kinds of phones, and presumably other types of clamps could be released if a major form factor switch occurred.

We're trying our hardest to get our hands on an iControlPad for some kind of in-depth preview/review coverage, so if you're suffering from sticker shock at the $75 price tag, it might be best to wait until we run it through its paces before taking the plunge.

  • Anonymous

    I'll be looking forward to your review. $75 is an awful lot of money, especially for something that's pretty unlikely to get any significant support, if any, at least without jailbreaking. With such low production runs, I can't imagine any non-jailbreak app developers bothering to put in support for it.

    • Anonymous

      It would require very little effort, and would promote your game a ton for those who bought it. A parallel would be supporting Game Center in its infancy.

      • Ryan

        Other than the fact Game Centre was created and backed by Apple

  • Rusty Moyher

    I ordered one last night.

    • Anonymous

      So the buttons are needed after all...

      Reminds me of old times when all the mp3 l-payers were black and the ipod white, ppl said how great is to be white. And when the blk ipod came out the same ppl acted like aapl invented black.

  • David Whittle

    looks like a great idea! I hope it catches on.

  • Grimgrock

    First, that is too expensive. Second, I absolutely refuse to jailbreak my phone mostly because I like to be able to get software updates from Apple without having to backflip while blindfolded through the flaming hoop suspended over the pit of alligators.

    • Anonymous

      I think you have the wrong idea about jailbreaks...

      • AlpacaLips

        I disagree. I used a jailbroken 1st gen iPhone since they came out. Then last summer I got an iPhone 4 which I've kept unjailbroken, and it's a breath of fresh air not having to deal with the bugginess or upgrade risks.

      • Anonymous

        Oh, I agree about the bugginess. And it usually slows the device down too. But as Josh says below, updates are pretty easy, and it doesn't hurt anything. The worst case scenario is that the newest update hasn't been jailbroken yet, and you have to live with a jailed iThing for a while.

    • Josh

      Apple updates are easy with a jailbreak. Wait for a apple update. Wait for the jailbreak. Update to the latest Apple update. Rejailbreak. Done.

    • firefly

      The author fails to mention that the ICP contains a 1500mAh battery that will recharge your phone and provide about 30 hours of gaming. How much does an external battery of that size cost again?

  • Scott Colbert

    Alright, seriously-scarce sw support, 75 bucks AND I have to jailbreak my iDevice? I want what they're smoking--

    • Hackmodford

      You do not have to jailbreak your device to us this.
      You only would want to jailbreak if the developer doesn't support it. To get around a devloper supporting it they are making a jailbreak daemon that will simulate touches...

      • Scott Colbert

        I quote: " and until developers start supporting it, using it will require jailbreaking." Reading comprehension ftw.

      • xVietx

        You guys are both right technically. Hackmodford said that if the developer doesn't support it, then it requires jailbreak which is exactly what's stated in the article. The thing is figuring out if any developer will or not. That's the main argument is this and basically the only reason to see if it's worth it.

  • Tikicobra

    What game is that in the picture? :-p

  • Robotron2084

    $75 for that ugly thing? Bwahahahahaha!!!

    And it's not even April Fool's yet.

  • ChrisC

    I could see it doing well if it was supported well, and it was closer to $50. At $75 you might as well just get a DS or PSP.

  • HisDivineOrder

    Hmmmm. I like the idea, but you can't just crap this thing out and hope the games come to it. They should have gotten Gameloft on board with the iOS market. That right there would have brought everyone else.

    Instead, they hope people will come after it shows up, which is the best way to get no support at all. 🙁

    • Anonymous

      I highly doubt they ever expected that any regular app developers would support it. This is all about playing emulated games via jailbreak. They also aren't dependent on large numbers of sale and didn't plan for it. It's a low production product.

  • Rothgarr

    Good idea, terrible implementation. Apple should make an official hardware gamepad that uses Bluetooth and has official APIs. Game controls on iOS devices should always be touchscreen by default, but with optional hardware controls. If Apple came out with this i bet they'd sell a bazillion.

  • Anonymous

    $75 to beta test a device that requires jailbreaking? Ridiculous.

  • Hackmodford

    First I'd like to cover a few misconceptions.

    You will not need to jailbreak to use it. It natively just sends keyboard commands (like a bluetooth keyboard) to the iDevice. Therefore if a developer supports it, it will work without jailbreaking.

    Where jailbreaking comes in is if the developer doesn't support the device, there will be a jailbreak daemon that will simulate touches to fool the official game app.

    Now... I CAN'T WAIT FOR IT!

    • Anonymous

      Do you have a list of supported games?

      If not, then a jailbreak is pretty much required, don't you think?

    • Anonymous

      Except, as I understand it, bluetooth keyboards are of no use for games because they send text, not keypresses. Or something like that. I'd love to be proven wrong, but in any case, how many games support bluetooth keyboards? Are there any?

      • Anonymous

        Of course not right now! Nothing has been released that uses that kind of functionality! Why in the world would you expect anything to have support for this before any third party hardware is released?

        But with this, and the iCade coming out soon, they all use the bluetooth keyboard functionality.

        And while there is a slight difference in the API used for "sending text" vs "sending a key press" there is no difference to the end user.

      • Anonymous

        Actually there are a ton of bluetooth keyboards in the world. I have one hooked up to my Mac mini. 🙂 Too bad the iControlPad is a low production run item. It's not going to get anyone to develop for the bluetooth keyboard approach. I don't know about the iCade, but I'm guessing that will be low production too.

      • Anonymous

        I was talking about dedicated game controllers that use the BT keyboard spec, not bluetooth keyboards themselves.

        And if you don't know about the iCade:

        It is manufactured by ION (an actual manufacturing company with wide range of products, not just "some guy"), shown at CES, is under partnership with Atari, and will be sold through thinkgeek. No, the iCade will not be low production.

    • Naim-Lis Taylor

      as right as you are about how this works is everyone forgetting about the Gamebone which has a target price of $30 AND had a damn L and R button? plus they want to get it licensed by apple, i think the gamebone is worth waiting on, i've been waiting and i will continue to wait, i think in june a iphone controller is going to be apples next big thing to shut down the 3DS and NGP(psp2), besides the gamebone is MUCH better, look it up

  • Hackmodford

    First I'd like to cover a few misconceptions.

    You will not need to jailbreak to use it. It natively just sends keyboard commands (like a bluetooth keyboard) to the iDevice. Therefore if a developer supports it, it will work without jailbreaking.

    Where jailbreaking comes in is if the developer doesn't support the device, there will be a jailbreak daemon that will simulate touches to fool the official game app.

    Now... I CAN'T WAIT FOR IT!

  • Hackmodford

    First I'd like to cover a few misconceptions.

    You will not need to jailbreak to use it. It natively just sends keyboard commands (like a bluetooth keyboard) to the iDevice. Therefore if a developer supports it, it will work without jailbreaking.

    Where jailbreaking comes in is if the developer doesn't support the device, there will be a jailbreak daemon that will simulate touches to fool the official game app.

    Now... I CAN'T WAIT FOR IT!

  • Anonymous

    Och, too little, too late, too much.

    Who is the target audience? It's a shame it's jailbreak-only.

    It seems to me that a large proportion of the the jailbreak crowd doesn't want to spend any money.

    If the point is to play games such as emulators, that same $75 could buy you a Dingoo. This is a dedicated GameBoy-style handheld that has a nice bright screen, good buttons, TV-out, a rechargeable battery, onboard storage, and a proven track record for emulating old games. All that for less space, and you can keep your iPhone battery for playing native games, web surfing, and making phone calls.

    • ImNoSuperMan

      I'm not really digging that design. Looks like it might be a little top heavy. Also, I think it might be better with the buttons, controls on the sides of the screen or maybe if the screen (ie the iPhone/ipod) was placed at some angle instead of being flat. But then, thats what I think would be better for such an accessory. Maybe in practice this design will be better. But I'll definitely hold my purchase before we can get some hands on/impressions of this thing first.

      Edit: Oops. This wasnt supposed to be a reply to jindo's post. Not that it matters much anyways 😛

    • Eli Hodapp

      That's what I think is a little crazy about this. Even if they sell their full initial production run (which is 3000 units per their site) that's still an -incredibly- small pool of people for any serious developer to be like "Alright awesome let's build iControlPad support in to our games!" If it's exclusively for emulation and similar jailbreak stuff, it's even more puzzling.

      Thinkgeek sells the GP2X Wiz for $100-

      This thing is basically just as capable as the iPhone when it comes to emulation. So for $25 more you get a device that's actually built to play emulated games, versus jumping through all kind of hoops to get a similar experience on the phone.

      Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see something like the iControlPad take off, and even though this looks a little clunky and expensive, it's still an awesome first step. You've got to hand it to the people behind it for sticking with this project for as long as they have.

      • Anonymous

        To be fair, the thing has it's own rechargeable battery and it charges your phone while you use it, so it won't use up your internal battery until the iControlPad's battery runs out.

        Hmm... or at least it use to. I guess it doesn't now?

      • Eli Hodapp

        I think you missed my point. I'm saying if developers don't start supporting this and it's exclusively used for jailbreak emulation stuff, why buy this and get locked in to always jailbreaking your phone instead of just spending another $25 and getting hardware that was purpose built just for emulation?

  • Decoy Octopus

    Might as well buy a 3DS or PSP2 when it comes out. $74.99 is too much for a prototype with no software support. It will not sell well.

    • Anonymous

      If it was actually designed well, and didn't look like a freaking prototype, $75 would be worth it. As it is, the guy will probably sell of the first 3000 but probably very slowly... at least until some reviews trickle in.

  • Huy Ngo

    I would surely abandon any game that spent more effort that made controls better for this addon controller versus making controls better on the native screen. I hope this doesn't succeed because then it ruins the innovation that many developers have been successful with on integrating new and wild control schemes for touch games

    The device itself also defeats the purpose of why most of us even have games on our iPhones; for the all in one portability. With this addon, we will not only have to carry our phone around, but we will also have to add this clunky piece that will only fit in a backpack, purse, or other carrying case.

    • Anonymous

      Precisely. I think what could potentially work as a product would be something along the lines of this:

      But instead of a real keyboard, more game-like controls. Thinkgeek should tackle that after the iCade.

    • Anonymous

      Exactly; if I wanted to have to memorize buttons without iconic representations through the marvel of touch screen, I'd still be playing with my now fossilized PSP.

      • Jerome

        Touch screens may have some advantages over buttons for some kinds of interaction, but this is not one of them. It would be extremely easy to put small icons onscreen to represent what the 4 main buttons do (and has been done in some console games). This not only gives you the advantage of tactile feedback, but removes the necessity of having your thumbs cover screen real estate.

  • Adams Immersive

    Gotta start somewhere!

    I’d like to see the rear (“shoulder”) buttons. None of their pictures show them.

  • Taylor Calderone

    Wow, the ABXY buttons are in the wrong places, from both the SNES and the Xbox standpoints... If they were trying to avoid lawsuits they should've just used some different shapes or letters.

    • Brian

      Big let down to see this.

  • TheLastPixelArtist

    I nearly spilled my coffee.


    Someone needs to pop into a business school.

  • Anonymous

    The thing looks like a prototype. Still. People typically don't like buying prototypes. Scratch that, replace "don't like buying" with "don't buy."

  • Nicolas Grignon

    Apple should buy them, improve it and make it OFFICIAL accessory... Some games (FPS, Racing...) just REQUIRE analog hardware controls!

    • Anonymous

      Racing games are da bomb with accelerometer controls, mate.

      • Hellioz Dogol

        Not everyone likes to use accelerometer in racing game. I hate it.

        And iphone games are not all about racing games.

      • Brian

        Accelerometer sucks for racing games. Terrible.

  • Word

    OR you can just buy a Wii Mote for Cheaper then that and Just use it on jailbreak required emulators (each one supports it)

  • Mikko

    If you know your way around microprocessors, check out my proof of concept solution for attaching a PS2 controller to iPad. It does require applications to add support for it (I've patched DOSpad as an example), but hey, it's cheap and doesn't require jailbreaking, only some tinkering :).

  • Fv

    looks ok but 75 freaking sheets!!! are they having a laugh, is it a joke?

    no way id expect to pick that up for 10 or 20 max. i cant see this getting much support at all. with that stupid price tag i hope it doesnt really.

  • Dumptruck

    I'm surprised so many people are afraid to jailbreak their device. My iPhone does so much more stuff now that it is jailbroken I would never go back to a standard ios. Also I like the looks of this thing. I would buy it in a heartbeat if it was 50 bucks instead of 75. Maybe there will be a price drop in the future.

    • Michael A. Robson

      Yeah, but ... people don't want to be you, or go through what you went through to hack their devices. Just like most people on an airplane don't want to take the wheel.

      • Mwhite67

        Yeah you're probably right. That five minutes I spent jail breaking my phone was pretty brutal

      • Mwhite67

        Yeah you're probably right. That five minutes I spent jail breaking my phone was pretty brutal

  • Werner Ruotsalainen

    Seems to be a great gadget particularly because of the support for legacy touch simulation, which isn't done in any other, strictly jailbreak-based solutions utilizing existing game controllers. However, it's a bit overpriced, particularly because the above price doesn't include VAT (9%) and postage (14 pounds outside the UK). With all those included, the price rises to 70 UK pounds.

    They should reduce the price to, say, $50.

    • Anonymous

      Think you meant the VAT cost was £9. VAT is 20% in the UK.

      Agreed though the price is misleading, UK non express delivery the price is not £46 as stated on their website, but £59 inc tax plus basic uk shipping

      I know its standard practice for American websites to only list tax at the end, because states differ, but for a UK website i find that a bit underhand and shoddy.

  • Stephan Torcy

    I would buy in an instant if it could get the support. Personally though I doubt many software houses will patch their games unless they think they will get sales from it or other control pads using the same system arrive. Great idea though.

  • Anonymous

    Doomed to failure.

    If Apple we're to release such a add-on, it would sell like hot cakes, developers would know to offer support for it, because Apple wpuld be supporting it (like Gamecentre)

    As is, its too much change to lay down for something that in all likelihood is going to be supported by few games. If Gameloft or EA o another big publisher we're to get behind it, then mabe, but as is... Nah.

    Flings (or things like them that serve the same purpose) are the way forward. The only support required is an interface that works with no elements obscured by the add on. Or at the ability to customise the position of the control elements. Something a lot of games support anyway.

  • Cowboysfreetyme

    I will wait for the gamebone. You know that device that will actually get support.

  • E_Domina

    u don't need to jailbreak. it uses bluetooth