If there’s one area where Android-based gadgets still need work in order to satisfy their ever growing fan community, it’s certainly gaming. While many high-end smartphones and tablets are now powered by snappy processors and come with GPUs that support heavy gaming, the experience is not exactly all it could be due mostly to the touchscreens’ limitations.
You can’t, however, come up with gadgets featuring gaming controllers by default, because that way you’ll seriously increase bulk and forget all about portability. What you can do, though, is work with gaming accessory manufacturers and launch controllers designed with Android devices in mind and supporting Google’s mobile OS.
That’s exactly what NVIDIA is doing right now, alongside Nyko, a Los Angeles-based gaming accessory manufacturer with an experience of over 15 years. The two companies have just unveiled the PlayPad controllers, set to be released this fall with full support and special customizations for NVIDIA Tegra-based tablets and phones.
Nyko’s offering will include two controllers, called the PlayPad Pro and the PlayPad. The first of the duo will be a full-sized accessory to provide an “at-home gaming experience” and will come with dual analog sticks, d-pad, face buttons and shoulder triggers/bumpers. In other words, everything you might need to play a demanding FPS on a mobile device in your living room will be in your hands.
The PlayPad is designed with portability in mind and will come with dual analog sliders, a collapsible tablet stand and a carrying case for “gaming on the go”. We don’t know exactly what this little guy will weigh, so we’re still unsure if it will be your perfect travel companion. However from the first couple of official photos, it looks pretty sleek.
Both Nyko controllers will be compatible with Android-based tablets and phones running 3.0 Honeycomb and up and they will be completely cable-free. The PlayPad and PlayPad Pro will be connectable with your devices via Bluetooth, which is a good thing for all intents and purposes.
Other great things reported about Nyko’s future accessories is that ‘they won’t only be compatible with Tegra-based devices and they won’t require rooting your gadgets before use'. Finally, it seems that there’ll be a free Android app made available in the fall, called Playground and intended to “provide backwards compatibility for the controllers with legacy tablet titles, including those that currently utilize keyboard mapping, touch mapping and mouse support”.
I can't say that I'm stoked about the controllers' designs and color schemes (the PlayPad Pro will be made available in six different colors), but hopefully Nyko and NVIDIA will make up for this with functionality, portability and lightweight.
There's no word on pricing or exact release dates for Nyko's future Android controllers, so for the time being we should not get overly excited and try to keep our cool while dreaming at a significantly improved gaming experience on our beloved phones and tablets.