iOS 7, the coming update to the mobile software that powers Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices will add support for external third-party controllers for gaming.
The news, which came today during Apple’s keynote at its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, will mean that users will no longer have to rely on onscreen controls. According to a slide during today’s events, the functionality will be a part of Game Center, though Apple has yet to detail the feature in its entirety.
How gamers will interface with controllers is still up in the air, and there’s no information about what kind of standards those manufacturing iOS compatible controllers will have to adhere to. As Apple already maintains a healthy selection of company-blessed third-party accessories which interface with iOS as part of the company’s Made for iPhone and Made for iPad programs, it wouldn’t be that hard to imagine that it’s that program that will set the standards for the controllers.
The Duo Gamer is an Apple controller that has already been approved for iPhone and iPad use as a part of this program. That controller now sells for $80.
Settings standards for these controllers will be key to creating a successful third-party controller ecosystem. Without them, developers will have no way of knowing what or how many buttons the user might have available to them, creating a situation that isn’t conducive to a quality gaming experience. It would also make it easier for users to choose between which third-party controllers are available to them instead of having to wonder about which controllers work on which games.
The new MFi support on iOS comes as part of a huge array of new features that have been added to IOS as part of the underlying software development kit or SDK that’s used by developers to create applications. Other additions will include slightly updated multitasking, barcode scanning, automatic application updates and peer to peer communication technology for having two iOS devices communicate with each other.
Apple announced that it would make iOS 7 available to users who have devices younger than and including the iPhone 4, iPad 2 and the fifth generation iPod touch.