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Apple's new iPhone game controller concept is pretty wild

We see Apple patents almost every week, and they invariably offer a fascinating glimpse at what future products the company may (or may not) have up its sleeve. And here's one we haven't seen before from Apple: a game controller.

But not just any game controller. Apple has filed a patent for a device that can attach to the iPhone magnetically (yep, presumably via MagSafe). The company has shared a few different configurations, including versions that can fold up. As with all Apple patents, it remains to be seen whether these will ever see the light of day, so don't discount those Nintendo Switch deals just yet. 

Backbone controller for iPhone

Right now, iOS gamers are limited to third-party options like Backbone (pictured) (Image credit: Backbone)

Catchily titled Magnetically Attachable Gaming Accessory (opens in new tab), the filing describes how such an accessory could "readily attach to an electronic device, can be easy to use, and can have a small and efficient form factor." 

Curiously, it seems Apple has taken some inspiration from the Switch here. The filing details how the controller could be attached to the device, or used separately – much like, that's right, Nintendo's joy-cons. But the idea of using magnets is a new one – we just hope Apple fixes its MagSafe strength issues in time. 

Apple game controller patent

A screenshot from the patent showing the controller attached magnetically to an iPhone (Image credit: Apple)

Of the variations Apple depicts, the wildest includes an in-built projector, giving gamers access to a much larger display. This could trump even the Switch for versatility – who needs the best 4k monitors when you're carrying a potentially huge display in your pocket?

Apple game controller patent

One version (right) includes a built-in projector (Image credit: Apple)

But perhaps the most exciting thing about the filing is the fact that it suggests Apple is finally ready to get serious about gaming. The company has dipped its toes in with offerings such as Apple Arcade, but failed to take on the might of, say, the PS5 (check out the latest PS5 restock news if you fancy your chances). And rumours about Apple developing its own actual console have been around for years – is it a stretch to think that a controller could end up accompanying a fully-fledged console?

Of course, the whole thing might never happen – it's just a patent filing after all. But it's pretty solid proof that Apple is at least considering upping its gaming credentials. And it isn't the only company with some wild controller ideas. Sony's new PS5 controller concept looks like it could be a game-changer (quite literally).

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Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).

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