Apple announced during its WWDC keynote that iOS 7 will finally bring support for third-party game controllers, and the Cupertino company has followed that up with a new set of guidelines which detail a standard for iOS and OS X game controllers.
The document is designed to ensure all game developers are working with the same specifications, so no matter who your favorite title was built by, it should be compatible with your controller.
The guide, which is available to registered developers through the Apple Dev Center, was first discovered by TouchArcade. It features two controllers designed by Apple “to ensure that all of the controllers have consistent sets of control elements that both players and game designers can rely on.”
By publishing guidelines like these, Apple can help developers adapt their titles for a specific controller design, which means you shouldn’t need special controllers for different games. Once you’ve purchased one controller, then, you should be able to play all of your games with it — providing they support a physical controller, of course.
iOS already supports game controllers, of course. But not all developers are following the same standards, so you sometimes have to purchase several controllers to play games from different developers.
Apple details two controllers in its guidelines — one that fits around an iOS device, and one that wirelessly connects to an iOS device or Mac, and can be used at a distance. Apple also describes how each one should be connected and used with games.
Apple also states that game controllers should be optional, so if a developer writes a game that supports a physical control pad, it must also support virtual controls as well — so that it can be played by users that don’t own a controller.
“Controllers must enhance gameplay—they must not be required,” it says.
The guidelines hint at the possibility of game controllers becoming part of Apple’s Made for iPhone/iPad program, just like other iOS accessories. That means you could one day purchase controllers that have been approved by Apple, safe in the knowledge that they follow its guidelines, and should therefore be fully compatible with your games.