When Apple released iOS7, its latest smartphone operating system, the company included a way for developers to create game controller add-ons for the phone. Controller add-ons have existed for a while–they’re basically cases with buttons that clamp on to the back of your phone–but until the release of iOS7, they weren’t officially sanctioned by Apple. Now, images of accessory-maker Logitech’s first gamepad (probably) have been leaked by usually spot-on gadget-uncoverer evleaks. The Logitech model will likely be one of the first versions of the gamepads released. We don’t know much about it besides the pictures (a little on the clunky side, perhaps?), but here’s why you might care about it (and why you might not).
Gamepads are cool because they are an improvement over the way many mobile games are controlled right now. A fair amount of “iPhone” games were first developed for use with a controller (see: Crazy Taxi; also see: too many others to list), then later brought to the iPhone. So to avoid losing the controls in translation, developers making these games–called “ports”–stick virtual buttons and joysticks right on the screen. This is a terrible solution. I’ve yet to find a virtual gamepad that has any resemblance to a real gamepad: you stretch your fingers; you helplessly try to manipulate an under-sized “joystick” with your thumb; you feel nostalgic for the arcade days.
Gamepads are Apple’s (and developers’) solution to that problem. You get a real gamepad, if you don’t mind sacrificing space around your phone to a big hunk of plastic. It’s not the best solution, though: ideally, developers would put more effort into making controls that are developed for the iPhone, with the taps and swipes players are used to. But until that happens, gamepads like this are more like the only solution.