Back in June, Apple announced something that could change the mobile gaming industry forever: a standard for iOS gaming controllers known as Made For iPhone (or MFi) for short.
With the controller support that came with iOS 7, users can now use controllers with physical buttons rather than being forced to use the cramped buttons on the iPhone or iPod’s touch screen.
Let’s look into it a bit further into how it works. As pictured above, you can see that the iPhone is plugged directly into the controller. While this is currently the standard, standalone controllers are also being made which connect to your iPhone or iPod Touch via BlueTooth.
Although we aren’t quite seeing them yet, MFi has huge advantages for both the consumer and the developer. Let’s break it down.
Developer Benefits of MFi Controllers
As we know, the iPhone is getting more and more powerful every year. Yet, few developers have actually been able to take advantage of all that extra power. While the iPhone is now capable of producing and rendering console level graphics, developers are limited by the iPhone’s screen size.
If you’ve ever played a first person shooter game on the iPhone for example, you’ll notice it usually isn’t easy. Floating joysticks and cluttered buttons are hard to control, and the difficulty of use greatly takes away from the experience of playing the game.
With Apple’s new support for gaming controllers on their platforms, the fear of button clutter will be gone. Developers will be able to produce more immersive and feature-filled games without having to worry about detracting the user experience.
Consumer Benefits of MFi Controllers
When developers have a good time doing their job, the average person like you or me gets to enjoy their hard work. While simple pick-up-and-play games are fun to kill a few minutes, they are nothing like the full games that are available on consoles today.
With the addition of controllers for your iPhone or iPod touch, that could completely change. More companies are already beginning to take iOS as a serious gaming platform, and it’s only a matter time before console games are ported over to iOS so we can play them on the go.
Gaming Controllers Available For iPhone
So how do you go about getting one of these new Made For iPhone controllers?
Currently, there are only two major MFi controllers in production: The MOGA Ace Power and the Logitech Powershell. They’re actually similar in a lot of ways. They both plug into the iPhone or iPod Touch, and they both double up as an extra battery pack. Additionally, they’re both priced similarly (both the Logitech Powershell and the Moga Ace Power are priced at $99).
The differences between the two controllers are few. While the MOGA Ace Power packs an extra 300mAH of power, the only other differences are in the design. The Powershell features a D-pad with shoulder buttons that fits nice in the hand, while the MOGA Ace power features two joysticks, which may give it the advantage for games that require precision, such as first person shooters.
Which controller is superior? That’s entirely up to you, and what design you’d prefer. However, one thing is for certain – MFi controllers are incredibly significant, and may just end up changing the mobile gaming industry forever. Will it happen? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.