Mobile gaming is becoming increasingly popular, and according to Newzoo, there will be 3.7 billion mobile players globally by 2023. Apple recognises the value of mobile gaming; after all, Apple Arcade was created for a purpose.
According to the most recent patent (discovered by Patently Apple), the Cupertino business is preparing to enter another market area in the gaming industry – game controllers.
The patent is named “Magnetically attachable gaming attachment,” and it was submitted on August 27, 2021. On March 31, 2022, the US Patent & Trademark Office and the European Patent Office granted Apple the patent, clearing the door for a variety of Apple gaming accessories.
“Accessories that can increase a certain capability of an electronic device, can easily attach to an electronic device, can be easy to use, and can have a tiny and efficient form factor,” according to the abstract. One example is a gaming attachment that enhances the gaming capabilities of an electronic device, such as a phone, tablet, or another computing device.
The gaming attachment can offer a physical interface for managing game activities on the electronic device, allowing the screen of the electronic device to be at least partially unobstructed during gameplay.”
Game controller for Apple
Looking at the illustrations in the patent documents, it is evident that Apple is experimenting with a variety of designs. A variant that resembles the Joy-Con controllers that connect to the edges of the Nintendo Switch system is available. This version of the Apple gaming controller is compatible with both landscape and vertical iPhones and iPads.
The second design resembles a casing with a controller and contains a tiny screen in the centre, between the physical buttons. Apple anticipates gamers utilising this smaller screen for typing while in-game, eliminating the need to utilise the phone’s virtual keyboard and freeing up screen estate for gaming.
This second panel would also be able to display extra in-game material, such as statistics, different vitals and metrics (health bars, scores), and act as additional touch controllers as required.
The third option is a regular, independent game controller, akin to a PlayStation or Xbox “Joystick.” This controller is available in a variety of configurations, one of which has an integrated display.
It’s critical to remember that we’re discussing patents here. There are no assurances that an Apple gaming controller will ever become a reality, no matter how rational or thrilling it may sound.
Having said that, this isn’t the first time a claimed Apple gaming controller has surfaced on the internet. Back in April 2020, a leaker announced on Twitter that Apple new gaming controller will be released later that year, perhaps in early 2021.
Obviously, two years have gone by with no Apple controller to be seen (save in the patent filings), but with the rising popularity of mobile gaming, and Apple’s historically slow patent-product path, there is a possibility we may see this Apple controller later this year, or in 2023.