Apple has released its first reference designs for game controllers that work with iPhones and iPads in a bid to standardize features and quality for accessories manufacturers and make it easier for its app developers to create games.
According to the documents, discovered by Touch Arcade in Apple's developer web portal, the company foresees two types of controller: one into which an iPhone would be placed, turning it into a hand-held gamer; and another standalone, more traditional unit that would connect to a device wirelessly (think Playstation or Xbox).
Although spare on specific details, what is clear is that Apple wants to standardize the gaming experience on iPhones and iPads so that it can enhance user experience and raise quality. At the same time, by standardizing design and the types of control buttons featured on the controllers, Apple's app developers can standardize and improve the control mechanisms and features in the games they create for iPhones and iPads.
The focus of the world's gaming industry might be on the E3 conference in Los Angeles, where Microsoft and Sony are both detailing the killer features of their next generation consoles, but all current data points to the fact that the standalone, static gaming consoles' days are numbered as mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets become the primary focus of gaming.
Juniper Research believes that by 2017, 64.1 billion game apps will be downloaded annually to these devices, compared with the 21 billion downloaded in 2012.
This growing popularity is already impacting the traditional games market with portable, handheld consoles such as the Sony PS Vita struggling for market share alongside the latest smartphones from Samsung and Apple.