Monday, June 28th, 2010

What iOS4 means to Apple gamers


iphone 4 iOS4 hit the iTunes Store this week, and with it came several updates designed to enhance the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad gaming experience. Here’s a list of the new and improved features that will affect your gaming:

Gamecenter: Companies like ngMoco and others have up until now created adhoc social networks to connect up players for games as diverse as We Rule and Words with Friends. Apple has in one fell swoop replaced their patchwork efforts with Gamecenter, a social networking hub for iGamers to connect, compare scores and compete.

Unfortunately, Gameceenter isn’t out yet, with only vague promises of “this summer” to tide us over. Until then you’ll have to use Feint or one of the other competing services, or actually (ugh) talk to your friends and set something up.

The other big addition for gamers is the gyroscope, though unfortunately it’s restricted solely to iPhone 4 owners. Like the compass and the accelerometer, the gyroscope will literally bring a new dimension into gameplay. Steve Jobs impromptu display of his Jenga skills at the WWDC keynote notwithstanding, it’ll be very exciting to see what amazing gameplay iPhone developers come up with to take advantage of the gyro.

Not quite related to gaming, but thrilling to the anal-retentive amongst us is Folders, which lets you organize up to twelve apps in a folder that opens up when you tap it. I’m sure all of us have tons of games scattered far and wide across many pages of our iPhones, and the folder app lets you gather all of them up onto one page, and even sub categorize them into different genres.

Last but not least is the Retina Display. With a 960 by 640 display, the new iPhone screen has eye-popping clarity. While many are touting the screen’s suitability for surfing the web or reading e-books (all of which are valid points), think back to the leaps in gameplay that occurred int he glory days of the Graphics Card Wars. Entirely new game genres like first person shooters and RTSes became possible on the PC, and now that same revolution will happen on the iPhone. FPS still presents a challenge due to the iPhone’s touch screen controls, but RTSes and other tactical games could get a real boost from the increased screen real estate and sharpness. And dare we dream of World of Warcraft on the iPhone? Yes we dare indeed.

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