There's a new gamepad available for iOS devices, and this one should appeal to those who prefer their controllers wired instead of wireless. 60beat's GamePad, now available, is a $50 external game controller with 6 face buttons, 2 analog joysticks that can click in as buttons, a d-pad, and 2 shoulder buttons. It doesn't use the dock port or USB to connect - instead it connects through the headphone/mic port, in a similar method to the iRig. While this naturally means the speakers won't work, a headphone cable splitter is included. As the demo video below shows, games can recognize when the GamePad is plugged in and support all of its controls immediately. This will offer a low-latency way for games to be playable with physical controls.
Will it be popular, though? With no unified gamepad standard defined by Apple, external gamepads have been a kind of chaotic wasteland. The only thing close to a standard has been the iCade, which dozens of games support; the iControlPad offers iCade emulation support along with its own modes of operation. The availability of analog joysticks and an easy setup process should prove intriguing to developers and gamers interested in physical controls. However, the new standard that would need to be implemented would be a challenge; finding some way to make it work with some extra code alongside iCade support would go a long way in terms of adoption.
However, the road to developer and consumer adoption may be tricky indeed. Right now, only 2 games support the GamePad, and while the list is set to expand in February, the price will need to be justified through a more expansive list of games. Still, this wired controller should promise to be a more elegant and easy to use solution than the battery-draining and occasionally laggy Bluetooth keyboard emulation techniques that other external controllers have so far used.