iOS is the gaming platform of the future. Just ask Nintendo, who this year posted its first annual loss (nearly half a billion dollars). And while Game Boy-esque portable playing is good enough most of the time, you only need to add a few accessories to turn the iPhone into a full-on be-buttoned handheld, and the iPad into the center of a big-screen home gaming system. Read on to find out our picks for the best iOS gaming accessories.
Best iPhone Joypad
The iCade mobile turns your iPhone into a kind of PlayStation Portable, only with better and cheaper games. It connects using Bluetooth to avoid Apple’s control-freak attitude to the 30-pin dock connector, and works with any iCade-enabled games. Bonus: it even works with the iPad, although you won’t be able to squeeze it into the controller’s iPhone slot.
Best Play-Everywhere Joystick
The stick-on Fling adds an instant physical analog joystick to your iPhone or iPad: a pair of suction cups stick it in place and a conductive block of plastic sits inside a sprung ring. The pad centers itself when you let go, and the whole shebang is see through, so it doesn’t get in the way of the game.
Best Retrification Add-On
Another iCade-compatible controller, the 8-Bitty is the closest you’ll get to using a proper NES controller on your iPhone or iPad. Hi-tech Bluetooth combines with low-tech AAA batteries for a boxy, button-bashing experience.
Best iPad Game Controller
The iCade turns the iPad into a tiny, tabletop arcade cabinet, complete with proper joystick and eight (8!) buttons. The iCade was the original accessory controller, and its SDK has been adopted by many, many developers to make their games compatible – just search the App Store for “iCade” to see how many. It connects via Bluetooth, and makes an awesome dock even if you don’t want to play any games.
Best Console Hook-Up
SmartGlass is technically an app, but as it’s all about hardware we’re letting it get onto this list. SmartGlass is a technology from Microsoft which lets the XBox use your iPhone or iPad as a display. Thus, you could be blasting away in [Insert War Game Here] and view a map on the iPad in your lap. SmartGlass is scheduled for a release later this year.
Best Gaming Speaker
Jawbone Jambox – $200
Games on the iPad and the iPhone rock, but the sound sucks. The best thing to do is hook it up to a speaker. Even better is a wire-free Bluetooth speaker. And even better than that is a small Bluetooth speaker which can convincingly fake 3-D surround sound. That speaker is the Jambox, a stalwart of our Best Of lists, and with good reason. The Jambox’s Live Audio feature really does add depth and dimension to sound, and if it’s recorded using binaural stereo, your game will sound incredible.
Best AV Accessory
Apple Digital AV Adapter – $39
Hook up your iPad to your big-screen HDTV with this dock-to-HDMI adapter, fire up Real Racing HD and hand out a few iPhones to use as controllers and you have one of the most expensive home console setups around.
If you already have a TV, an iPad, and a few friends with the appropriate phones, though, then you just saved yourself a few hundred bucks. Bomus: big-screen movies!.