I'm an iPhone purist, I'll admit it, I love my phone just how it is, stable, fast, non-glitchy. Sure from time to time I've wished I could customize my text message tone or set a new wallpaper behind my icons, but in the end it's not worth it. At least that's what I tell people most days. I confess however that today, for the first time since 1.1.2, I gave serious consideration to jailbreaking my iPhone. What could lead me down this dark path again? How about controlling a game on my iPhone using a Wii Remote!?! The BTstack project has managed to pull it off!
If you're not familiar with what the BTstack Project is, it's an open source project focused on expanding bluetooth device support far beyond what Apple is currently allowing. A lot of the above information comes to us from this article via Zodttd.com which also includes a statement from the developer saying his next target is the PS3 controller. Upon reading, I was almost giddy with anticipation and immediately started spreading the word. But one of my colleagues, being the glass is half empty type that he is, quickly pointed out why I shouldn't get too excited.
"For one," he said "theres nothing comfortable about hunching over a table, looking straight down, just to keep your hands free for use on a controller..."
I quickly pointed out that an iBend would be a quick, easy, and cheap solution to that. He conceded this point but continued.
"Secondly and much more importantly [BTstack] is hacking their iPhone to use them, no major developer is ever going to spend the time and money making a game that needs a hack to be used fully."
I hated to admit it but he had a point, however it may not be a relevant one for much longer as I know of at least one legitimate controller being developed for the iPhone, the GameBone Pro.
The GameBone Pro has amazing potential as 22Moo states it will be fully compatible via bluetooth or dock connector, fully functional D-pad with 4+ action buttons, and a built in speaker/mic, etc. While there is no official price listing or release date yet, we know they are targeting an early 2010 release. Gratefully they are making their developer's kit free to anyone who wants it.
The free SDK is an important point I'd like to touch on momentarily. While I'm certain more than one developer has a controller under development, it's my hope that in some circle somewhere there is a committee working on a set standard of controller code. Without a set basic standard we will end up in a market where a game may work with one joystick but not another. Resulting in another BlueRay vs. HD DVD war, only with more players. A war that would most likely end up with game developers ignoring the idea of external controllers all together simply because of inconvenience.
With a set standard though I can already see what the future may hold for iPhone gamers. I can imagine sitting at an airport with a friend waiting for our redeye flight to arrive and needing something to do. Out of my pockets I pull three things, my iPhone, GameBone Pro, and a Pico Pocket projector. Out of his pocket he grabs his controller and within a minute we are playing Marvel vs. Capcom (not currently released for the iPhone) dreamcast style on a 60" while being totally portable and wireless...I'm getting giddy again.