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iOS 7 update to bring compatibility with gamepad controllers to iPhone, iPad

For the first time ever, Apple is finally officially blessing a new category of iPhone and iPad accessories – game controllers! First announced on stage at the WWDC keynote, Apple has also released a developer guide that shows the kind of devices they mean to support, including both traditional gamepads and those that wrap around the screen.

While it’s been possible to use hardware game controllers in iOS before, these have relied on game developers and accessory manufacturers working together to build an interface between the two elements. Now, iOS will sport a common interface that can be implemented by each sides separately, allowing new controllers to work with existing games with controller support and vice versa.

That means developing both controllers and games that support them will become a whole lot more attractive, particularly for smaller players that were previously unable or unwilling to find willing partners.

Apple’s new support for Bluetooth game controllers is even cooler when you consider adding AirPlay Mirroring to the picture. Now, you’ll be able to play iOS games on your HDTV with a controller, granting a console-like experience at a fraction of the cost  – assuming you already own an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.  While we’ve seen a lot of Android-based gaming consoles as of late, the App Store still boasts a stronger games library and Apple could do really well to capitalise on that.

In many ways 2013 has been the year of the mobile gamer, with the release of the OUYA and a host of similar products, as well as an incredible amount of “second screen” options shown off at E3 for next-generation Xbox One and PlayStation 4 games. Apple giving their blessing to controllers on iOS is another big part of that theme, and I can’t wait to see the results of this new addition once developers have had a chance to play with the new SDK.

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