Here's an interesting rumor: Apple has worked on a controller for its devices, according to a couple of lines in Anandtech's iPad review. Here they are in all their glory:

I know of an internal Apple project to bring a physical controller to market, but whether or not it will ever see the light of day remains to be seen. As smartphones and tablets come close to equalling the performance of current game consoles, I feel like the controller problem must be addressed.

Play with us for a second and consider this: what would the easiest way to stop all the fracturing inside of fracturing going on in the third-party controller space? If Apple was to do something with a peripheral, we wouldn't be writing a story every week about a brand new controller that has its own proprietary code that studios' need to plug into their software. Everyone would just automatically support Apple's New Thing, and there would be no other viable market.

But, that's just reading tea leaves inside of tea leaves. Also, there's a billion ways to read into this, if it's even accurate, which we doubt, since a controller compromises that vision of iPad and iPhone. These things were meant to be used with our fingers, not with styluses or controllers or other peripherals.

Then again, who knows. Maybe this will be a "one more thing" at a keynote.

[via MacRumors, via AnandTech]

  • Decoy_Octopus

    I hope thats not the controller Apple's working on in that picture. It has way too many buttons and anly 1 analog stick. They'd better better off releasing the iphone 5 with built in controls like the ViTa.

    • Soul_of_Wit

      The controller in the picture was obviously picked as the most complex controller that could be found. In other words, the exact opposite of an Apple-branded controller (not that there ever will be such a device.)

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Holy cow.

    • SpacePenguinBot

      I'm not even sure it's a game controller as much as a crazy ergonomic keyboard with built in trackball.

    • http://twitter.com/VULTR3 Mike

      I think that's obviously apples prototype. And I can't wait to buy it. That's porn for my fingers right there.

      • mmhborggreve

        That picture is not a Apple prototype, it is the Alphagrip All-in-one.
        http://www.alphagrips.com/

      • http://twitter.com/VULTR3 Mike

        Oh really? I thought that was a real apple prototype. You know, because apple stuff looks just like that.

        I guess sarcasm is hard to read via text, but I figured it was obvious enough. Silly me.

  • http://twitter.com/tootiegooch tootiegooch

    The latest Call of Duty with a good control pad on the latest ipad would be an xbox/ps3 (or future console) killer...

    • Declan Bowers

      Facepalm. That is all.

  • Adam Andrus

    Apple just needs to include an HID API in IOS and let the third party take over on the hardware.

    • Soul_of_Wit

      That is the best solution, but it will never happen (nor will Apple create their own controller.)

  • SpacePenguinBot

    It doesn't seem like Apple to release their own game controller, but I could see them adding an API to iOS and leaving the hardware to 3rd parties. With a standard in place, game developers would feel more comfortable adding controller support and iOS gaming could move another step forward.

  • dyscode

    1.April, still? Apple HID API: maybe, Controller: no.

  • Soul_of_Wit

    "These things were meant to be used with our fingers, not with styluses or controllers or other peripherals."

    That is the Apple philosophy on their touch devices. In other words, be amazed at what can be accomplished with a touch interface--don't ask what could be done with add-ons. The Apple mantra is simplicity/minimalism. They still have never offered a true, physical 2-button mouse for their desktops. The closest thing is a virtual 2-button mouse with one actual button. I use an ancient Logitech Wheel Mouse with my iMac.

    • Schnapple

      Yes, but that was their attitude before they became an inadvertent major portable gaming player, and it was also their attitude when Steve Jobs was still alive. 

      You're probably right that it won't happen but a whole lot of things at Apple are changing these days. 

  • http://www.jshamblin.com J.Shamblin

    I don't see how controllers compromise Apple's vision for the iPad and iPhone. They sell stands, keyboards, speakers, etc. None of which are needed or compromises any less then a controller would. A controller would be just another accessory.

    That said, I read somewhere that they are working on a new screen technology that will allow users you feel shapes and text on the screen. It could be used for virtual controls and allow apps for the blind. That sounds more like Apple to me. They're always looking forward.

    • Guezcoast

      I agree if keyboards and mouse give u that laptop and desktop option why not a control for games that give us that console feel and option. The more options the better it gets is just simple and logical. I personaly like playing morden combat 3 in the retina display more than in my hd projector wich is 100 times larger just cause of the image quality but having the option to go big with a hdtv or projector and the console controls just makes it better. They need this option if they wanna compete with console. As a handheld is awsome as it is now.

    • AlienSpaceDev

      Haptic screens may be good for some things, but not for games.  The problem is that whenever you're touching the screen to input commands to the game, you're blocking the view of the game.  That's just bad design, period.  Same for tilt controls.  How can you properly play a game when you're constantly tilting the screen to point away from your line of sight?  Apple needs to either come up with a standard API or an actual physical controller that can be attached to the iDevice.  Until that happens they're just not serious about gaming on iOS, especially as the CPUs and GPUs on these devices makes them capable of console-quality graphics.

      • http://www.jshamblin.com J.Shamblin

        Maybe for the iPhone, but the iPad has plenty of screen to spare. It would be nice if there was an Apple controller for iOS games and the virtual controls could be optional for those who don't own the assessory. To be honest though, I've become very comfortable with touch controls and they don't bother me as much as they once did.

        As for as haptic screens not being right for games, my feeling is that they will be. I can imagine some fun implementations for games already. Our generation is having a hard time adjusting to touch controls and we want to hang on to what we know and are comfortable with, but the newest generations won't have that crutch.

      • AlienSpaceDev

        I agree that games should still have a virtual controls option, but at least with a single "official" physical controller developers will only have one to support.  This means that games that are better suited for physical controls will likely have support for it and you wont have to worry whether the one you bought will work with each game.

        Also, there will always be some games that work well with touch or haptic screens.  But there's also a whole class of games that wont.  Some games just need multiple buttons to work well.

      • Guezcoast

        Do you mean gyroscope? Cause in mordern combat 3 i take that off and then costumize controls untill am comfortable. I got use to them quick and didnt miss console controls at all.

  • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

    An API would be enough, but a cross platform (Mac- iPhone- Pad) Bluetooth 4.0 controller would be the best idea.
    Or both :)

    Go on Apple, make GameCenter 2.0 with iOS 6.0 and make a gamepad.

    • http://twitter.com/drelbs drelbs

       Controllers for the AppleTV would make pretty good sense.

      (And if they just happened to work with our iPads and iPhones, more power to them!)

  • TomCrown

    OS X already has support for PS3 controller baked in using BT. It would seem completely plausible for that to carry over to iOS. Game center coming to Mountain Lion and Apple hiring people away from XBOX for iOS gaming initatives coupled with AirPlay and ATV, certainly they have been thinking about this for some time and working out a proper seamless implementation.

    I suspect iOS 6 will have an API for all developers to use most likly announced at WWDC.

  • http://twitter.com/ImANinjah The Real Ninja

    Would be awesome news for us Modern Combat 3 fans! :D

  • Joel Gregory

    Originally I purchased the iPhone primarily for gaming since then I have been seemingly constantly waiting on this big game or that big game never truly feeling fulfilled. Long story short I gave up on Apple for my gaming needs after Onlive submitted their gaming app to them never to be heard from again by Apple. I now game mobile on the PS Vita and it reminded me once again what real gaming is I have absolutely no regrets with the purchase of it. I purchased the Vita with what would have been moneys used from a 4s as i currently own a 4. I still love my iPhone and my iPad just not for gaming and I not sure what the future is with gaming and the IPhone and IPad and I know that I am probably in the minority but they are going to have to put up or or shut up as far as my gaming dollars now go.

    • UnderSiege2

      iOS games are the Chinese food of gaming.

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

        You must be Japan, aint ya?

      • http://twitter.com/Tweety3_1415 Alexander Walker

        sweet AND sour?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MSH56N633ACUVD46DAZSBQ3LJU DwayneW

    That seems as unlikely as having a mouse for the iPad or iPhone. It defeats the purpose. I can see something like that popping up on android devices which usually, completely miss the mark when it comes to the "point" of touch tablets. Besides, Steve Jobs was never interested in catering to the whims and inanity of the mostly meat-headed (ever-shrinking) video game community, and it "wouldn't be wise" to start now.

    You start shoving peripherals into an iPhone or iPad and then it is "neither" one of these things anymore. It defeats the "elegant" streamlined, "All-in-one" aspect that has made these devices a success, and Steve Jobs had the balls to tell Adobe where to shove it when it came to Flash, (which is still a combersome power hog), but rather than be stuck waiting for Adobe and crew to catch up with Flash for mobile devices, we have these devices now because of its omission, including a juicy ten hours of power for iPad and similar devices.

    Video game controllers are dumb and archaic input devices, Shadowgun, Real Racing 2, Modern Combat, League of Evil, etc. are proof that you don't need these training wheels to enjoy video games anymore. Let Android have that garbage and let these things just die already. Geeze.

    P.S. These "are not" freaking Videogame systems.

    • B3nlok

      Oh my....Wheres the "dislike" button? Never mind :(

    • http://twitter.com/drelbs drelbs

       Have you played League of Evil on an iCade?

      It's pretty freaking awesome.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MSH56N633ACUVD46DAZSBQ3LJU DwayneW

        I haven't, but the iCade (cabinet) is like $70.00, which a controller from Apple would most likely be as well. Either way, League of Evil is still pretty slick on the iPhone.

    • Knnth Rss

      You refer to controllers as archaic devices and you cite iOS games that play well without them. Then you point out iOS devices are not video game systems.

      There is a games category in the iOS app store. IOS is a gaming platform.

      Apple would be stupid to ignore the need for physical buttons.

      • http://twitter.com/chaosjay Jason Evans

        I have Netflix on my 3DS and Playstation Vita. They are movie and TV show watching platforms.

        To me, a gaming platform is something that's built to play games. The current consoles (Wii included) can all watch movies and TV shows and listen to music, but I still consider them game platforms. I play games on my iPhone, but it's not made first and foremost for playing games, it's just a very nice extra.

        Apple can push iOS as a game platform all they want, but I won't call it that. Microsoft can push the Xbox 360 (or Sony and the PS3) as an all-in-one entertainment center thing all they want, but I'll always call it a game system that can do more than play games.

        All that said, I'd very much like a controller. There are a lot of iOS games I'd love to play with buttons.

    • Erik Wilgenhof

      Sheesh, you could have posted a much shorter reply by saying "Steve wouldn't have wanted it that way". It's obvious that no matter what arguments are used you're a card carrying member of the Church of Jobs. I own most iProducts but for gaming I have an 86 dollar Android device (JVX S601) with real controls which gives me more gaming joy than all the Angry Birds put together.

  • B3nlok

    The best possible design i can imagine as an IOS Universal Controler would be something like this:
    http://gametel.se/images/gallery/4.jpg
    or this:
    http://macmagazine.com.br/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/04-icontrolpad01.jpg

  • B3nlok

    Helooooooo Mods! Could you please approve my comment?

  • http://buzzabit.com/aaron/ Aaron Sullivan

    Apple has given stage presence to games during keynotes over and over with iOS devices and hired promotions people from gaming. Apple stumbled into a market it didn't expect to and has been trying to catch up with its own success. Of course Apple is testing out ways to make a controller work without compromising the integrity of the devices.

    I keep seeing people say that Apple should just slap out an API and let third parties supply the hardware. Why wouldn't Apple want a piece of that peripheral action? Apple makes money on selling hardware. If it is going to get behind the controller thing officially I'd bet they will also provide a hardware solution to go with it that keeps the devices as "Apple-like" as possible to set a bar, make some money, and maintain the image of the devices.

    I hope it happens, and 6.0 is a good time for it, IMO. It would make a pretty good "major" feature to drum up.

  • UnSurreal

    A controller would be awesome... do want.

  • Xarlos

    Well remember, if Apple ever does make a game controller, it will have just one button...

    • B30 B30

      Yes, and it's called ipad

  • Armaan Khan

    I hope it's not true. The last thing the world needs is an official Apple iDevice game controller. We'll lose all the progress that's been made with intuitive touch-control gaming as developers simply tag their games with "requires iController."

    Then there's the question of how many buttons/sticks should the thing have. If there's one thing that the game consoles have proven over the years is that no matter how many buttons you give them, developers will always want more.

    Apple should just stick to the basics and their core-values: intuitive, touch-based interaction.

    • Xarlos

      The thing is, sometimes the game must dictate the control, not the other way around.  I'm thinking of all the twin-stick shooters on the iDevice that loose a good part of the play area to the pseudo-controls, and all the deaths caused by the finger slipping off the control and "why aren't I moving?" *die*.  Plus "fat finger syndrome" - "who's shooting me? I don't see anyone? Oh, there he is, under my finger.

      Think also of the advantages, being able to stand your iPad up on the table at a comfortable angle while playing with a wireless controller.  Could be awesome.  I don't think an attachable controller would be workable.

      That won't negate all the great games that are designed for and work perfectly for touch or tilt.  Tilt To Live without Tilt?  absurd!  But some games will be far better for the appropriate control scheme.

  • CandyCaneNJ

    Is this why they haven't approved the Onlive app?

  • http://twitter.com/lucac81 Luca Corsini

    While an apple branded pad could kill the third party market (well they costantly do that!) I hope they do that! A controller is needed for a lot of games which simply cannot adapt very well to touch interface (Shoot em up, FPS, platforms, dual stick shooters, fighting games)
    Maybe it's time to release a proper HID API

  • DeltaKappaEpsilon

    i could finally play some game generes which i avoided on touchscreen devices because they don't work for me without physical buttons and a physical d-pad.

  • fryman345

    Does it look like one of the yet-to-be-released iCade modles for iPhone/iPod Touch?
    http://www.ionaudio.com/products/gaming/ipad-gaming 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_URQOKQFXGJ2JAKZ6MODNSQSEUI Bernie -

    apple is going down the drain if they are working on controller. why the hell would they want to do that?

    • B3nlok

      Because that would  allow them  to have better support from big video
      game companies, so that one day  Apple will have better showcase games
      in their keynote other than the usual  Epic-Chair tech demo?