It appears as if 2012 is going to be the year of game controllers. The iCade became popular in 2011 for iOS devices, bringing arcade-style controls to iOS gamers (primarily designed for the iPad) via Bluetooth keyboard emulation. The iControlPad was also released, which featured custom controller modes that Android could utilize, along with iCade emulation for iOS games. 60beat recently introduced their GamePad that plugs in through an iOS device’s headphone port.
Now, Gametel is jumping into the gamepad space with their own controller. This controller boasts 6 face buttons; 4 on a diamond on the right hand side along with Select and Start buttons. The device also boasts a pair of triggers.
Importantly, this is designed for use with phones as well as tablets; it comes with a clamp that will hold most Android phones in it. It connects over Bluetooth and supports 4 different control modes: an Android-specific mode configurable with a driver available through Android market; a standard Bluetooth gamepad mode; a standard Bluetooth keyboard emulation mode; finally, a mode that emulates the iCade, designed for iPhone and iPad.
These different modes make it something that is designed to work for any platform that users want to use it on, similar to the iControlPad. However, the iControlPad has additional analog joystick controls along with its buttons and iCade emulation. The Gametel may be limited because of the lack of analog joysticks, but its appeal may primarily be in use for classic games (and of course, emulators, which are plentiful on Android – though occasionally Apple lets one slide by on the App Store).
This should also raise the question if Android developers will ever implement gaming controls in their apps; implementing iCade shouldn’t be difficult as that is a Bluetooth device, and it is also the standard in widest use across the industry, and is the hardware in most users’ hands, either through the accessory directly, or through hardware like the Gametel that can use the same commands. It mainly differs from other gamepads by sending individual keystrokes when a button is pressed, and another keystroke when a button is released. Even with options available for direct gamepad control available to Android users, devices like the Gametel do show that even Android developers should consider implementing this protocol into their game along with standard gamepad support, which Android does support as of 3.x; with the proper cables, try plugging an Xbox controller in to an Android device…