Microsoft is experimenting with prototype Xbox controllers for phones and tablets. The controllers attach to the sides of devices to provide an experience that’s similar to Nintendo’s Switch. “The success of the Switch is testament to the value of mobile gaming with physical controls,” explains a Microsoft Research paper, spotted by Windows Central.

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Microsoft has been experimenting with a variety of slide-in grips that can make the attachments far more flexible and less bulky than solutions that already exist like GameCase, GameVice, and ION iCade mobile. Microsoft Research first documented these prototype controllers back in October, and now Microsoft has even patented the idea.

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The patents and research don’t necessarily mean that we’ll see these controllers in time for the xCloud game streaming launch, but Microsoft has been overhauling its research division in recent years to ensure its inventions become reality. These prototypes look like a far better solution than connecting up a separate Xbox controller, or relying on touch screen controls for games.

Microsoft is working on a Touch Adaptation Kit for xCloud so developers can make their games more touch-friendly, but the company has always publicly demonstrated its cloud gaming service with an Xbox controller attached to an Android phone. We’ve been waiting for a company to step up and create a good controller design for phones, and Microsoft might just be ready to fill that gap. Microsoft also makes the best pro gamepad (the Xbox Elite controller), so extending to phones and tablets looks like the next logical step.

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