LAS VEGAS -- Smartphones and tablets are quickly becoming the new console of choice for action games, but some players find touchscreen controls uncomfortable because the virtual controls often obstruct the game's view. Enter Fructel, a Swiss company that announced a universal gaming controller called Gametel for Android devices in November. The device works by docking Android smartphones above a video game controller, and, in the process, frees up the screen from distracting touch controls. The Gametel also sports Bluetooth and so can be paired with tablets. Or it can be used to play mobile games on a larger display connected to a smartphone or tablet.
This week the company announced at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show that it is also expanding support to iOS devices as well--including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, three devices with noted success in mobile games.
Neither the Android nor the iOS version of the Gametel is available for U.S. release yet, but we did get a chance to see the Android version of the device in action tonight at CES. Sony Xperia Play fans may notice a certain similarity between that phone's slide-out design and the Gametel button layout. Fructel tells us that's because some of the controller's designs are based on Sony's concept. The company also shared with us that the Gametel is designed to work with many of the titles developed for the Sony Xperia Play as well. We consider that great news for Android gamers who don't want to saddle themselves with the underwhelming Xperia Play smartphone.
Fructel says the Gametel dock will be released sometime in 2012, and that it will support iOS 4.0 or later as well as verison 3.2 or higher for the iPad. On the Android side of things, the Gametel will work with any device using Android 2.1 or higher. Of course, it's too early for pricing, but we'll be waiting with itchy, button-mashing trigger fingers.