Previously known for audio accessories, ION Audio attempted last year to branch out into Apple gaming add-ons with the release of iCade, a joystick and eight button set mounted inside an iPad-sized arcade cabinet, relying on Bluetooth wireless to send commands to the tablet. Though Apple’s lack of official iOS software support thus far for game controllers has limited the number of developers willing to add peripheral support to their titles, a small number of companies have released iCade-compatible games, inspiring ION to expand the iCade range with three new versions.
iCade Core cuts the original model down into an angled iPad-ready platform with the same joystick and eight button configuration, losing the oversized and needlessly expensive cabinet-style housing. No pricing has yet been announced. Next is iCade Jr., which looks like the original iCade, but shrunken to fit the iPod touch and iPhone 4/4S, with only four buttons alongside the joystick; it will sell for approximately $50. Like the first iCade, neither of these units is designed to be portable.
Finally, there’s iCade Mobile, a joypad-based controller that is expressly built for portability. An interesting design enables either an iPhone 4/4S or iPod touch to be rotated within a central housing from portrait to landscape mode, while the joystick and buttons remain in their hand-grippable positions. This $80 model has both face and rear buttons, further raising questions about what sort of buttons developers are supposed to expect from iCade device to device.