Like adding hot fudge to a scoop of vanilla ice cream, Android 4.0 has just gotten 1000% more awesome. According to the folks over at SlashGear, developers poking around the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich SDK discovered that the OS will have native support for game controllers. That means those of us that have been playing emulators of Streets of Rage or ActRaiser can stop fumbling around with sketchy touchscreen controls.
This marks the first time that Android gamers will be able to use a controller without rooting. There's no official word on which controllers will be taking a bite of Ice Cream Sandwich, but early speculation is swirling around USB/wireless paddles such as the PS3 and Xbox 360. However it would be great if someone came out with a universal Bluetooth controller. (Hint, hint: Razer, Logitech, and Nyko).
In addition to peripheral manufacturers, this new feature could help Android establish a more secure foothold in the mobile gaming sphere. It's easy to play role-playing games (RPGs) such as Infinity Blade or tower defense romps such as Sentinel 3: Homecoming on a touchscreen. However first person shooters and fighting games are trickier to navigate. Game controller functionality could encourage developers to create more games for the platform, potentially giving Android a leg up over iOS which has made great strides in the mobile gaming market.
So far, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus will be the first phone to be able to have game controller connectivity. However, Android owners running Gingerbread should be getting the Ice Cream Sandwich update sooner than later.