Apple’s new controller framework hints at gaming aspirations

In just a few short years, the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch have become incredibly popular gaming platforms. The latest iterations have the hardware to produce truly impressive visuals. However, their touchscreen input still feels poorly suited to gaming, at least for me. Touchscreens are great for navigating typical mobile apps, but they lack the precision and tactile response long offered by traditional gamepads.

Apple apparently shares my frustration, because iOS 7 will include a new controller framework that promises robust gamepad support. Controller support will also be incorporated in OS X 10.9, otherwise known as Mavericks. Details about the framework are available to registered Apple developers in this programming guide. The information is subject to change, but Apple’s intent seems pretty clear.

Specifications have been created to ensure a consistent set of control elements for two types of gamepads. Standard controllers will presumably be based on the design pictured on the left, while “extended” ones will add the analog joysticks, secondary shoulder buttons, and LED array portrayed on the right. Gamepad makers “may choose slightly different physical layouts,” but the actual controls will have to adhere to the standard and extended gamepad profiles used by the OS.

There’s no indication that Apple will be building controllers itself, and the firm is adamant that gamepads can’t be required by software. Any games written to take advantage of controllers must also be playable without them.

The new controller framework suggests Apple is taking gaming more seriously. Valve’s Gabe Newell said in January that Apple represents his company’s biggest threat in the living room, and we already know a new television product is being developed in Cupertino. While Apple probably isn’t prepping a console to take on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it appears to be laying the groundwork for a more concerted gaming effort.

Comments closed
    • Jigar
    • 6 years ago

    Attention console makers you are about to get sued…

    • Diplomacy42
    • 6 years ago

    Nintendo should sue.

    XYAB? come on, that has been nintendo’s forever!
    and primary colors to boot!

    apple has innovated again

      • derFunkenstein
      • 6 years ago

      Actually Nintendo’s X and A buttons are on the right whereas this is on the left. If you add C and Z, you have the Sega Genesis 6-button controller arrangement, or the Saturn. Without C and Z, you have the Dreamcast, Xbox, and Xbox 360.

    • Prion
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<]Touchscreens are great for navigating typical mobile apps, but they lack the precision and tactile response long offered by traditional gamepads.[/quote<] The number one problem this solves for gaming on touchscreen devices is input latency.

      • dragontamer5788
      • 6 years ago

      Correction: the number one problem for _capacitive_ touch screens is input latency.

      Those who have played with Nintendo DS, Nintendo3DS, or the WiiU will know that input latency isn’t a problem on those screens… which is resistive-based. Low-latency touch-screen is perfectly acceptable if you are willing to compromise and have “soft” screens.

      The issue with “soft” screens on smartphones or whatnot is that they get scratched up. People take better care of dedicated gaming peripherals however, so WiiU tablets and DS screens don’t really become scratched up.

        • Prion
        • 6 years ago

        My original reply got eaten, but anyway a +1 for you for pointing out my lack of specificity.

        Anyway, the touchscreen latency for resistive-based is basically down to the polling rate (see: [url<]ttp://www.collectingsmiles.com/news/measuring-latency-in-colors-why-game-devices-are-better-for-games-than-smart-phones-2/)[/url<] but the screens on those devices also don't have any support for multitouch (for some reason this is important in our post-iPhone smartphone world) and because they are dedicated gaming devices there are already perfectly functional physical controls integrated.

    • Meadows
    • 6 years ago

    Why not make a controller that’s actually made for human hands?

      • Diplomacy42
      • 6 years ago

      Because then you wouldn’t have the challenge of foot gaming

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 6 years ago

      I agree looks super uncomfortable.

        • Deanjo
        • 6 years ago

        These are just an example controller layout diagram not specifically representing any specific device.

    • mcnabney
    • 6 years ago

    Countdown until Apple patents the color coded XYAB button arrangement….

    • demani
    • 6 years ago

    Rachel, I can’t believe you thought Cynthia’s story was that good given she a bit of…ok, totally an insufferable ass who always manages to come out of what ever dumb-ass situation she got herself into by the skin of her teeth. The things she says about you and Natalie when you aren’t around are pretty terrible, even though she always tries to couch it with a “I’m just trying to be an honest person” comment. WELL YOU’RE NOT HONEST CYNTHIA, YOURE JUST AN A-HOLE. Sorry, she just pisses me off so much sometimes. But then I can’t be surprised someone who makes their living giving HJs to hobos for $71/hour (I assume that is your special “bring a friend” rate) really comprehends that Cynthia just is a horrible person. Or I guess it’s all just relative I suppose.

    So how’s the Panda’s iPhone integration working out for you?

      • MadManOriginal
      • 6 years ago

      Best spam spoof ever.

        • demani
        • 6 years ago

        It’s funnier when the original was still there. Now I just look like a lunatic.

    • RachelGat7
    • 6 years ago
    • Bensam123
    • 6 years ago

    Doesn’t this go in the opposite direction of the whole touch screen gaming mantra thing? Gaming without controllers… now they’re adding them back in. It seems… I don’t know… hypocritical. Especially considering how they made touch screen gaming seem like the wave of the future.

    I know it said that gamepads must not be required by software, but we all know some programs setup for certain input devices simply work a lot better with it…

    Unless a piece of software is made to be controlled by a touch screen (we aren’t talking like a FPS conversion here, rather like angry birds), it’ll play infinitely better on a game pad, and taking it a bit further on a mouse and keyboard.

      • JohnC
      • 6 years ago

      You should read other posts before making yours…

        • Bensam123
        • 6 years ago

        I like being uninfluenced by others before making my own post.

        I read other posts in the thread after I make mine. That aside, I don’t know what the take away from others is you seem to be inferring, which would change mine.

    • JohnC
    • 6 years ago

    Can’t wait for it! My iPad already satisfies almost all of my mobile gaming needs even with touchscreen-based controls (even with games like The Bard’s Tale and SW:KotOR), the gamepad should bring in even more games and gamers to this platform.
    Let the masochists waste their time and $$$ on all the nonsense like Razer Edge or Ouya – I would be perfectly happy with iPad (which is MUCH more practical than any other “pseudo-console” thingies), my AppleTV and such optional Bluetooth gamepad.

    • blastdoor
    • 6 years ago

    Gaming on Apple TV.

      • JohnC
      • 6 years ago

      No need for AppleTV, actually – if the controller can also control the apps selection you can just buy the Lightning-to-HDMI adapter for much cheaper price and sit away from connected iPad/iPhone, using only Bluetooth controller to select and play games.

        • Deanjo
        • 6 years ago

        No need for it but it would allow for split screen gaming for multiplayer.

    • provoko
    • 6 years ago

    This looks like the wii-u controller and the Wii’s old school controller.

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 6 years ago

      First pic looks like a NeoGeo Pocket 2, or one of the dozen android/mini-pc based handhelds out there
      [url<]http://icdn2.digitaltrends.com/image/neo-geo-pocket-2-side-650x0.jpg[/url<]

    • Dygear
    • 6 years ago

    Apple will not be making the hardware, Logitec is already in the process of doing that and I don’t know what the other one was … But Apple will have control over who get’s the certify their hardware to work with the Mac and iOS hardware products.

    • Blazex
    • 6 years ago

    the left controller looks more like a nintendo ds without the top screen/lid added on.
    and the right controller is practically the original wii gamepad

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 6 years ago

    “A more concerted effort?” The controller support was all they needed to do. They gave us apps, they gave us yearly updated GPU’s that continually get better by leaps and bounds, and they gave us Airplay to a $99 AppleTV to put that tablet’s game on our HDTV.

    And now they’re giving you the controller support Android has had for a while now.

    Now it’s up to developers to use it. (You know Gameloft as a company just blew their wad. This has been their dream since Day 1.)

    I imagine the “real game publishers” all whipping around with their Sauron’s gaze toward iOS suddenly, seeing it in a whole new light now.

      • JohnC
      • 6 years ago

      Well, Sony was already planning Gaikai support for iOS and Android devices…

      Edit: I wonder if Apple will allow PS4’s controller to be used with their devices… Would be more convenient for PS4 owners 😉

    • swaaye
    • 6 years ago

    Apple Pippin One

      • raddude9
      • 6 years ago

      Nope, this is the “Pippin 360”, then it’ll be the “Pippin One”

    • ULYXX
    • 6 years ago

    …. Sega genesis, Super Nintendo, Xbox, Playstation. Yeah i dont see the where they got their ideas from for the controller on the right.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 6 years ago

      Apple invented that. Didn’t you know? Even though Steve Jobs hated games with a passion and stupidly hindered the progress of games every step of the way on iOS, he invented both of those controller designs between inventing the lower case i, the question mark, and the concept of “copyrighting/patenting a known concept that has previously been copyrighted/patented and then using a campaign of willful ignorance, deceptive shrugging, skillful mindgames, and alternating doses of beaten-puppydog-like sullenness and rabid-maddog-like namecalling fury to fully convince the prior owner of said copyright/patent of the newer claim’s validity.”

      Truly, Apple is an innovator.

        • Pez
        • 6 years ago

        +1 for the giggle 🙂

      • derFunkenstein
      • 6 years ago

      The controller it looks like most is the Wii Classic Controller.

        • ULYXX
        • 6 years ago

        My God, the Gall of it all.

        [url<]http://www.freewebs.com/djfizzyfizz/wii_controller_screen001.jpg[/url<][/url]

    • DPete27
    • 6 years ago

    How innovative, combine Play Station and Xbox controllers into one design. Genius!! And I sure hope that controller on the right will be a bit more ergonomic.

      • demani
      • 6 years ago

      That’s all up to Logitech, MadCatz or whomever- these aren’t Apple products, just general design docs showing the two types of controllers supported.

    • windwalker
    • 6 years ago

    If 802.11ac can help decrease the lag when using AirPlay then this will make a Rogue equipped iPad a contender in the living room.

    Until that happens, the controllers will help extend the dominance of iOS in mobile gaming.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 6 years ago

    A controller bigger than the screen you’re playing on….awesome.

      • demani
      • 6 years ago

      Yeah, the market has said how stupid those are: the GameBoy and PSP were just unadulterated flops….

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 6 years ago

      … you know what a portable console is, right?

      • WillBach
      • 6 years ago

      What about the Apple TV?

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 6 years ago

      The iPhone is your console, the controller connects via bluetooth (like a PS3) and the iPhone connects via wifi to your AppleTV you got for $100 at 1080p.

      What’s that I hear in the distance? It’s Nintendo, Sony, and especially MS weeping uncontrollably. I think I can hear MS screaming, “WE FINALLY JUST GOT AHEAD HERE!” Chin up, MS. At least you’ve got Windows RT and Windows Phone to fall back on, right? Oh, and PC gaming? (Hahahaha, MS and Windows gaming, hahahahahaha, like that’d happen.)

      Sony’s got Android to fall back on. I’m reasonably sure they’ll bounce back.

      However, I think Nintendo’s toast. They just don’t have the courage to admit when they’re wrong and do what the people want. I’m pretty sure someone’ll wind up buying them cheap after they try hardware release after hardware release, not understanding why gamers won’t stop buying cheapo games in place of their expensive versions of cheapo games.

      I imagine Google or more likely Apple buying Nintendo for its IP. Not to make new Mario’s, mind you, but to put out lots and lots of the old franchises. Mario lives on as long as he has 3 lives in our heart.

        • Decelerate
        • 6 years ago

        Nintendo can always pull the SEGA card and go software-only, if all else fails.

          • Diplomacy42
          • 6 years ago

          would really like to see Smash Bros on the PS 4 0.o

    • Deijya
    • 6 years ago

    Looks like the standard controller is a clip on frame of some sort. I wonder if they’ll include a cradle with the extended controller, or some kind of silly magnetic flip-cover/stand that contours to your knee…

      • derFunkenstein
      • 6 years ago

      I want a controller that snaps onto the back and slides out like a PSPGo or Xperia Play.

        • Deijya
        • 6 years ago

        I wonder if Sony patented that before Apple could.

      • Xenolith
      • 6 years ago

      This is just a spec for 3rd party development. These drawings don’t represent anything Apple is making.

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