Apple mobile games could in the future be played using console-like gamepads that magnetically attach to the sides of an iPhone or iPad. A lot of iPhone games are made for use with gamepads, or better with gamepads.
For now, your best bet is to buy a separate handle, although there is the Backbone One. The $99 device takes the left and right sides of the familiar gamepad and separates them with wide, flat pieces of plastic. It’s just the right size to fit into an iPhone, and the result is a regular iPhone with a full gamepad and buttons.
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The Backbone One is currently shipping, but now a newly revealed patent application shows that Apple has its own, bigger idea to help iPhone gamers. The end result looks similar, but instead of plugging in the iPhone, the controls are magnetically snapped to the side of the device.
An Apple project called “Magnetically Attachable Gaming Accessory ” proposes a system that sounds similar to the Apple Pencil. Instead of simply sticking the stylus there, it can now be magnetically attached to the iPad. Apple lists the patent application as being related to gaming, but the details are expected to cover connecting any accessory device to an iPhone or iPad.
Apple says such accessories can improve specific functions of electronic devices, can be easily attached to electronic devices, can be easily used, and can have a small but efficient form factor. An example could provide a gaming accessory that can improve the gaming capabilities of an electronic device, such as a cell phone, tablet, or another computing device.
Such a gaming accessory could provide a physical interface for controlling gaming activity on an electronic device such that the screen of the electronic device remains at least largely unobstructed during gameplay. Installing an accessory can be difficult, however, and Apple believes that any major effort to make such a connection quickly reduces the desirability and usefulness of the accessory. Therefore, Apple insists that accessories must be simple and convenient.
The details of the patent show the gamepad attached to the iPhone, and it emphasizes that the accessory must be able to communicate information directly to the iPhone or iPad. For example, data may be transferred between the gaming accessory and the electronic device via a near field communication circuit, or data may be transferred between the gaming accessory and the electronic device via a charging circuit or using Bluetooth or other wireless protocols.