Microsoft is working on mobile Xbox controllers for iPhone

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They would be perfect for streaming Xbox games.
Photo: Microsoft

Microsoft has started developing new Xbox controllers for mobile gaming. Prototype images reveal how the gamepads might attach to the sides of your iPhone and iPad for portable play.

The controllers would be ideal for Microsoft’s upcoming Project xCloud service, which will allow players to stream Xbox games to their smartphones and tablets.

The future of gaming looks incredibly bright. With the rise of streaming services, it’s going to be easier than ever for players to access the biggest and best titles on offer.

You will no longer need to spend thousands on a powerful gaming rig, or hundreds on the latest consoles. But you will need a decent controller for maximum enjoyment.

Microsoft could have your back.

Xbox controllers built for mobile gaming

A research paper and patent drawings reveals Microsoft’s plans for a new kind of Xbox controller that can be attached to mobile devices — much like the Gamevice for iPhone.

“Our vision is a mobile gaming controller which can be used standalone and across of a variety of devices,” the paper explains.

One of Microsoft’s designs looks like a normal gamepad, but can be split into two. Each side can then be clipped onto a smartphone or tablet, turning it into a Nintendo Switch-like device.

Ideal for Xbox games

Because the designs are based on an existing Xbox One controller, they would be ideal for streaming Xbox games on the go with xCloud. All the necessary buttons are built-in.

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Some of Microsoft’s mobile controller designs.
Photo: Microsoft

And with iOS 13 and iPadOS adding support for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One controllers this fall, there’s nothing to stop such a device from being compatible with iPhone and iPad.

Physical buttons required

Microsoft notes that physical sticks and buttons often make mobile games significantly more enjoyable — and that touch controls can be “unsatisfactory.”

“Mobile gaming devices like the Sony PlayStation Portable and Nintendo’s DS and Switch are dedicated mobile gaming platforms which overcome these limitations via physical controls.”

“The success of the Switch is testament to the value of mobile gaming with physical controls,” Microsoft adds.

When will mobile Xbox controllers arrive?

We must stress that these are just ideas for now. Microsoft has 3D-printed prototype Xbox controllers for mobile devices, Windows Central reports, but it certainly hasn’t announced one. There’s no word on if or when they might come to market.

Microsoft started developing these controllers way back in 2014 — long before xCloud was a thing — but with the Nintendo Switch mentioned in its research paper, it seems work is ongoing.

It could be that Microsoft may have reignited its efforts for mobile Xbox controllers since Project xCloud was confirmed. It would certainly make sense to offer a controller to go along with it.