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Surge of iOS Game Controllers at E3 as Speculation Looks Towards Apple TV Gaming
New products from gaming companies such as Mad Catz, Razer, SteelSeries, Hori, Signal, Phonejoy, and BigBen Interactive were all shown off at the event, with each company pushing various hardware styles and features to better cater to iOS users.
Mad Catz's C.T.R.L.i controller was described as TouchArcade's favorite of the various controllers shown. It features a full-sized design with console-style controls including face buttons, analog sticks, shoulder bumpers and triggers.
The controller can connect to any iOS 7 device through Bluetooth functionality, and also includes an optional clip for attaching an iPhone. Other controllers like BigBen Interactive's GamePhone Controller Pro, Hori's MFi controller, Signal's RP-One, and Steelseries' Stratus XL also showed off similar full-sized designs.
Meanwhile, controllers like BigBen Interactive's GameGrip and PhoneJoy's MFi controller showed off a design that wraps around an iOS device similar to the MOGA Ace Power and the Logitech Powershell.
Phonejoy's controller in particular contains the ability to fully collapse while not in use, while BigBen's GameGrip can wrap around an iPad mini and even a full-sized iPad. Razer also demoed its Junglecat controller, which contains a sliding mechanism with face buttons and a directional pad.
The introduction of all these new iOS controllers comes as rumors surrounding the next-generation Apple TV have ramped up, with some of that speculation focusing on the device's gaming capabilities. To this point, some have speculated that Apple could utilize iOS gaming controllers, a set-top box, and an App Store ecosystem to become a major force in the console gaming industry. Original Xbox engineer Nat Brown and Steam founder Gabe Newell shared sentiments that Apple could take the lead in the games console market with such a system.
Iconfactory software engineer Sean Heber (via Daring Fireball) recently wrote a blog post on how Apple could use its new Metal and AirPlay peer-to-peer technologies introduced in iOS 8 to provide a new console gaming experience with the Apple TV and iOS gaming controllers. He explains that Apple could ultimately allow users to use their iOS devices as controllers with minimal input lag, as games would be playable on both the Apple TV and iOS devices:
The key difference is where the AirPlay extension app actually executes - the AirPlay extension app will be automatically uploaded to whatever AppleTV you are currently AirPlaying with and will run directly on the AppleTV natively instead. This means no video streaming lag and minimal controller lag. Your iPhone would then turn into a generic game controller with onscreen controls or, if you have a physical shell controller attached to your iPhone, it activates that instead.In addition to gaming, Apple's next-generation Apple may also feature cable-box capabilities and perhaps a streaming TV service through a partnership with Comcast. However, Apple's iTunes Chief Eddy Cue said recently that Apple is continuing to work on a way to improve the television experience, but a fix is "complicated."
...You can play without needing to purchase the game on that particular AppleTV, without needing to sign in with your iCloud account to access your purchases, without needing to get their wifi password, or indeed without there even needing to be a wifi network to join in the first place. All without any hassle. When you go home, you take the game and any earned progress along with you in your pocket.