Tech

Patents indicate Apple may be working on its own game controller

In the context: For the most part, Apple hasn’t invested much in the gaming sector. Aside from the launch of Apple Arcade in 2019, the tech titan has largely left gaming apps and hardware to third-party developers. As his machines become more capable of gaming, he may want to put a little more effort into providing a better gaming experience for those on his platforms, including better input methods.

According to recently filed European patents, Apple has ideas for at least three new game controllers specifically designed for Apple products. The first style is like a standalone gamepad, just like a console machine. The second can be compared to Nintendo’s JoyCons for Switch. The third has a more foldable Game Boy Advanced design.

Style #1, as Apple calls it in the patent, is relatively unremarkable in design. It resembles a modern Bluetooth gamepad and probably works the same way. Over the past few years, Apple has made all of its devices compatible with PlayStation, Xbox, and third-party Bluetooth controllers. It will simply be the first alternative to what many people are already using. It will also be compatible with less portable devices such as Apple TV and various Macs.

Style #2 is two detachable controllers like on the Nintendo Switch. The main difference is that they will magnetically connect to the sides of an iPhone or iPad in landscape or portrait mode. The latest iPad Pros already have a magnetic connector on the right side for storing and syncing the second-generation Apple Pencil. Presumably newer devices, including the iPhone, will have similar connectors, albeit with stronger magnets on all four sides to accommodate the controllers.

Style #3 will be a case or folio controller that will fold up to cover the screen when not in use, much like the new Apple Magic Keyboard. Although in this case, users will have a gamepad, not a keyboard. However, this one is specially designed for the iPhone. The concepts describe the folio as either an additional screen with software-defined buttons or a partial screen with hardware controls. An additional screen can serve to provide additional information or custom button placement.

Although Apple products have not historically been gaming platforms, the advent of Intel-based Macs has begun to change that view. The iPhone came along and many developers started making simple games that could run on the device. As the iPhone and iPad became more powerful, the titles available became more complex and demanding, causing some to need an external input mechanism. As Apple continues to improve its own silicon, it may be taking gaming potential more seriously.

From a business standpoint, this makes sense. Video game industry generated $155 billion in 2020, including hardware sales, and analysts expect that to rise to $260 billion by 2025.

Image credit: DenPhotos


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