Apple could be making a game controller — and that makes perfect sense

Apple Arcade
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Update: Apple's next big patent application suggests that future iPhone cases will do a lot more than just protect your phone

There are plenty of gaming accessories for iPhones, especially controllers, but now it looks like Apple might be developing one of its own. Two new patents have been unearthed revealing a number of possible designs, including one that’s remarkably similar to the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Cons.

Patents were filed with both the US Patent & Trademark Office and European Patent Office (via Patently Apple). However, both patents include a number of different designs, suggesting Apple hasn’t quite figured out what form the hypothetical Apple Controller might take. 

apple controller patent

(Image credit: WIPO)

One of the designs looks remarkably similar to Nintendo’s Joy-Cons, with two ‘halves’ of a full controller sitting on either side of an iPhone or iPad

Interestingly the patents both detail a system that would let gamers play in portrait or landscape mode, with other designs suggesting MagSafe may have some part to play.

apple controller patent

(Image credit: WIPO)

Another design features something akin to the magic keyboard, attaching to the underside of a device and forming a Nintendo DS-style setup. Some of the possible designs even include a second display on this particular controller, making that comparison even more apt.

apple controller patent

(Image credit: WIPO)

A third design showcases a more traditional controller, which would connect to mobile, Mac and Apple TV devices via Bluetooth. This controller also has a switch that can enable a dedicated gaming mode, answer calls, or let the user send messages.

This isn’t the first time Apple has been rumored to have its own game controller in the works. Considering how much potential the iPhone has for gaming, both now and in the future, it makes perfect sense that Apple would want some hardware of its own. Rather than relying on third parties like Razer or Sony.

It’s certainly a lot more likely than rumors claiming Apple is developing its own games console.

Plus, while people struggle to get their hands on a PS5 or Xbox Series X, Apple has spent years perfecting ways to get new iPhones into customers hands as quickly and easily as possible — including huge groups of people that don’t fit the typical gamer mold.

Even my own mother, who only ever showed interest in a few motion control titles like Wii Sports, uses Apple Arcade. All because she has her iPhone, and can access a countless number of games whenever those dull moments arise. In other words, there’s plenty of scope for an Apple-made controller to do quite well in the hands of gamers and non-gamers alike.

But this is only a patent, and there’s no guarantee that Apple will end up releasing its own controller. Especially not when the iPhone is already compatible with so many controllers from different companies — including the Xbox Series X controller and PS5’s DualSense.

Read next: I finally have hope for Mac gaming — here’s why

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.