Information is slowly leaking out of WWDC as developers start installing the recently released beta version of iOS 7. Specifically, in regards to the mysterious reference to game controllers during today's keynote. We were just tipped off that a vague guide has been posted on Apple's developer site that mentions some basic guidelines on how game controllers should be used. No real specifics yet, although these two images give some idea of what Apple is thinking with this functionality:

drawing_3_2x drawing_4_2x

So here we have what appears to be a style of game controller that allows you to see the screen of your phone, as well as an entirely standalone controller with what seems to be dual analog sticks. Also, we've heard that Apple has reinforced that if your game is going to support a game controller it needs to be totally playable without. We're going to keep following this, as, well, it could change everything- particularly if it leaks over to the Apple TV.

If what we've heard is to be believed, there's going to be a familiar "Made for iPhone" branding on these controllers, and developers will have one common interface to code to and they'll just work on everything. Allegedly, there's even some prototype controllers floating around WWDC.

  • handycapman

    I hope this colors on the face buttons aren't here to stay. I want to look slick playin my games on my phone, not like I strapped a Super Nintendo to it.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      This is just a reference image, not necessarily indicative of any product that exists.

      • http://smoke.livejournal.com/ Smoke Tetsu

        Even if it where there's ways of modding controllers to whatever colors you want. My wireless 360 controller I use with my Mac has chromed out buttons, d-pad, black flat bacplate, etc.

    • bababewey

      This could be exclusively available in neon pink and embossed with Dora the Explorer stickers and I would still pay $99 for it day one.

      • handycapman

        Lo ciento

    • ianlogsdon

      The colors are based on the Apple Pippin controller, hopefully they are not a requirement for the MFi certification lol.

  • 1337brian

    2 words. ABOUT TIME!

  • zergslayer69

    I wouldn't mind making my ipad into a super wii u tablet controller!

  • http://www.silentrocco.com/ Silent Rocco

    Still think controllers of iPhones are a step back. But controllers for devices connected to a TV, a different story :)

    • PureRumble

      Ok then... So u like 2 or 4 big colorish buttons covering a fair share of your gaming screen while playing i dont know say street fighter?

      Its not a step back, its a huge leap forward!

      Not everyone may like it (for instance u) but that doesnt make it a step back...

      • http://ask.fm/MidianGTX MidianGTX

        ...naw, it's a step back. The point of touchscreens is to do away with buttons. Put the buttons back and you've got yourself a bona fide 90s handheld. Touch should innovate, not hinder, and if games are so uncomfortable to play that they need buttons the developers are doing it wrong.

      • 1337brian

        The point of touchscreens is to do away with buttons ON the device. This has nothing to do with wireless gaming controllers. Using the wiimote on my JB iPad to play games is like having a game system with me wherever I go. It freaking RULES!

      • PureRumble

        So how do u suggest a game like modern combat 4 that has sooooooo many buttons should do it differently? What do you propose the devs are doing wrongly?

      • WarMachine

        I hope you aren't realizing that just now, about how these mobile devs are lousy when it comes to innovating touchscreen controls. Devs made the DS work. Devs made the GBA work with its limiting graphics. Here's a powerful smartphone and what are devs making at best? Console copies that don't work well unless you have physical buttons ( there are exceptions, like League of Evil, who got responsive controls done right for a reflexive game).

      • liamorigami

        It's not the dev's here is an example how fast can you type on a keyboard an how fast can you type on a touchscreen

      • gabriel_ca

        I've been waiting for game controllers as a standard for a long time. Covering the action with your hand was a step backward for highly interactive low latency (between user and device) type of applications (my very descriptive version of "action game" :P).

        Seriously, putting your hands in the way causes problems for usability when you have to act quickly, you are either losing usable screen real estate to but the fingers at the corners, or eyes are doing micro refocusing whenever your hand gets into view and then out. Never mind the lack of tactile (not force, but tactile) feedback when finding new buttons (without having to refocus attention from game play to the UI). Game controllers are superior for many types of games over motion or touch controls.

        It's like the difference between using a touch keyboard versus a physical one. I'm way more accurate and faster on the physical keyboard than I am with a touch one. Most people are from what I can tell.

        Touch twitch games were a grand experiment, and there were some successes, but those successes weren't really better than if they were implemented with standard game controllers (unless they were something simple like Fruit Ninja).

    • PureRumble

      And one more thing to add about the so called touchscreen buttons is how you always always always always always... (Yes a lot of frustration goes here) always tap the wrong button or miss the desired one because they are so freaking small, so crammed up close together, and lastly but not least they dont feel like real buttons under your fingers because they are just a bunch of pixels on the screen

    • Jjaro

      Dude, physical buttons are needed for most games, especially games that require quick and sudden precision movements. For example, one of my all time favorite games is Tetris, but it's impossible for me to enjoy on the iPhone. I need a d-pad or joystick in order to do all the quick movements that later levels require. This is going to be a great thing for Apple, and possibly a bad one for Nintendo.

      • http://www.silentrocco.com/ Silent Rocco

        You haven't played Tetris of iOS for a long time I guess. They completely changed the way you play it.

      • moijk

        Yes, changed is the right word. By no means "improved". tetris on the gameboy is still in a couple of leauges above.

  • PureRumble

    Oh god yay! Sweet! :)

    Im just guessing the standalone controller was designed with ipads in mind but will work with iphones too.

    But heres an interesting question: auhm, u think the standalone one will ship with a builtin accelerometer?

    Oh god please say yes please do please! :-D

    • PureRumble

      I just must add that i think this is gonna be a huuuge game changer (oh u just saw what i did there), bigger than u might think.

      In fact this might be the big portal many of us have been hoping for that will let full fledged console games slip into ios in big numbers!

      Oh please let it be so, oh god please please please! :-D

      • Sebastian Paul

        They also just announced AppleTV apps without announcing them.

        Support for gamepads in iOS is a necessary step towards being able to use apps on the AppleTV (the small black box, not the big display-thing that people have been talking about).

        Companies will start adapting their games for MFi-gamepads and when Apple releases app support for the AppleTV, all that developers will have to do is changing the UI for that device.

        You could have games running on the AppleTV two weeks after this feature is announced.

  • CevanB

    This'll be very neat if it's true. I'm sure games like Minecraft - Pocket Edition will definitely benefit from this.

  • phonecats

    THIS. CHANGES. ALL OF THE THINGS.

  • http://tarasis.net/ Robert McGovern

    All I want is an iOS/Mac compatible Xbox controller from Microsoft.

    • ikari_paul

      the Xbox 360 one works on both OS's (native on win; with custom drivers on osx)

      • http://tarasis.net/ Robert McGovern

        Oh I know it works on Win, I use it often, but native OS X support without having to rely on 3rd party drivers would be a big boon.

      • http://smoke.livejournal.com/ Smoke Tetsu

        I agree. The 3rd party driver for Mac isn't exactly optimal as if the controller's ID isn't in the drivers plist file it doesn't recognize it..... and with any third party wireless controllers it's damn near impossible to find out what the ID is as far as I can tell. Like for the wireless tekken 6 fight stick. I can't make that work with those drivers easily.

        Who knows if this new API stuff will change that however.

    • chriscambell

      Yes, yes, a million times yes!

  • garret44

    This would be awesome. I like on screen controls and seeing how devs make them work, but this is an alternative 4 devs who can't get the onscreen controls to work accurately

    It would be cool to have the option of using physical controls by just slipping a case on

  • Karzay

    Awesome! I expect big things in October.

  • iamseamonster

    Does this mean I could possibly use my MOGA pro with my iPad, or will iOS compatible controllers work differently?

  • {SQUEEK}

    I always sigh when I see controllers ... For android

  • ikari_paul

    iCade FTW!

  • Protoman

    Nice if this is true. I've been wanting a proper controller for my iPad forever, one supported by Apple so a lot of games would work by default. Hopefully this is it.

  • UnSurreal

    Finally!

  • blackbear219

    mixed feelings. it would be SO awesome to have a controller like this...but, watching Brad fumble over virtual controls on TAPlays is very entertaining. #firstworldproblems

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

    This makes me happy. There are a couple game ideas I want to make that would be much better suited to a controller. Now to see if it takes off at all.

  • demarchy

    Guess there is no point getting a ps4 or Xbox one now...

  • xStatiCa

    As much as I really want a controller... I do wonder if this will cause developers that normally would be forced to get the touch controls as good as they can to to not put a lot of thought into touch controls knowing that users will just use a control pad.

    Then again... I doubt control pads will ever become the common option for the majority of users so devs will still be forced to get the touch controls working very well and optimized as much as they can.

  • AlienSpaceDev

    Cant wait to check out the new SDK. This would be great news, especially for dual-stick shooters like Alien Space Retro and FPSs. Even with good on-screen controls, there's always the issue of screen real estate being taken up and only being able to properly use two touch points at one time. Being able to have 2 dialog sticks, plus triggers opens up a lot of options. Lets face it, games like first-person shooters usually have horrible controls on touch devices. You really need to be able to move/look + shoot, and having physical buttons to hit without looking away from the action is very important as well. I'll definitely update Alien Space/Retro for this controller API when the controllers become available.

  • B3nlok

    Apple is getting serious about gaming (FINALLY!). This has a tremendous potential to shake up the whole gaming industry, if done right.

  • Taeles

    The new ironman game from gameloft is an excellent example of how a game could benefit from these controllers.

  • noty

    Every single game currently in the App Store with virtual sticks or buttons should implement these controls immediately. Real controls would actually make the GTA games enjoyable to play on the iPad.

  • Rustrobot

    I think the idea of potentially having a game running on my Apple TV using a controller and maybe having the same game on my phone while I'm on the go, but being able to take that controller with me on a long weekend with my iPad while away all while using the same cloud save is an exciting idea. This would open the door for a lot more long form games.

  • Hampus Jensen

    I hope the make a proper standard or even two as shown above, specifying what controls and buttons must be available on the controllers and then let the third party accessory manufacturers have at it. Having a standardized controller that will (at least in time) work with any iOS device, Apple TV (if it gets its own apps) and Macs would be great for everyone involved.