Ice Cream Sandwich includes game controller support

October 21, 2011

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Google just made the classic console emulator crowd very, very happy. While digging around in the recently-released Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich SDK, some industrious developers discovered support for direct input game controllers via USB. That means your next Android smartphone or tablet (or even your current one, given a timely update) might be able to support PC or Xbox 360 controllers for your favorite games.

Android has included support for basic Human Input Devices like mice and keyboards since Froyo, but game controllers are something of an electronic oddity, and require some special attention. Not that it hasn't been done before: one of the earliest widespread "hacks" for Android was connecting the friendly Wii Remote via Bluetooth, and with the aid of a special app, controlling popular emulators like Gameboid. In recent months PS3 and Xbox 360 controllers have found themselves in Android clutches, though in both cases, not without considerable effort and creativity.

With official support, the downright annoying world of touchscreen controls (at least in the opinion of yours truly) might give way to more robust gaming. There's only so many simultaneous moves and functions you can program in for a multi-touch screen, but if you've played a game like Batman: Arkham Asylum, you know the control with umpteen buttons, triggers and sticks is night limitless. Sony's official gaming support is possibly making the jump to other hardware soon, not to mention next-generation games like SHADOWGUN, so the news is very exciting indeed. With new advances like 720p screens and Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 on the horizon, who knows what lofty heights Android gaming might achieve in the very near future.

Check out our hands-on looks at the Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich below:

Galaxy Nexus Hands-on

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Ice Cream Sandwich Hands-on

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[via Phandroid]


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  • Claudio Ibarra

    Is there any equivalent to the “use one of the volume buttons to take a picture” feature from iOS?

    • Japzone

      Yes, in ICS POWER+VOLUME_DOWN takes a screen shot.

      Whoops I thought you wre talking about screenshots, but to answer your original question:
      If you’re reffering to using the Volume buttons as a Shutter, I’m not sure the Stock Camera app will support it natively but on Android there are plenty of Apps that’ll do it that have been around for awhile. I think one even enables support in the Stock app.

  • How clunky. We know there are perfectly good Bluetooth controllers out there : the PS3 controllers. Why not natively support those and other Bluetooth controllers as a FIRST step. 

    Then sure it’s cool to add USB support, but heck man…support Bluetooth controllers natively.

  • How clunky. We know there are perfectly good Bluetooth controllers out there : the PS3 controllers. Why not natively support those and other Bluetooth controllers as a FIRST step. The lack of proper physical controllers limits the type of games that phones and tablets can support. 

    We’re reaching a point where the technology in these phones are better than the Nintendo DS, and the PSP. In fact, between portable game device releases, Phones and Tablets will always contain better technology. Their problem is in their limited control options. Touchscreen controls are simply inferior to good old “twin stick” analog controllers for traditional First Person Shooter or driving type games.Sony has tried to address this by adding the gaming controls to their slider phone. Great first step…but even on that phone there is no native Sony game controller support? Come on folks..what’s the hold up? 🙂