The lights are on
Though Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference is not primarily a gaming-focused event, news like this year's announcement of controller support is just as important to the massive mobile gaming scene as anything coming out of E3.
No new iPhone was announced, but we were treated to a new mobile operating system, a Game Center redesign, and a half-video-game, half-miniature-car-racing oddity. Plus, it looks like iOS controller support is finally on the way. Keep reading for the details on the most important gaming news from WWDC 2013.
The conference began with a quick showing of Anki Drive, a racing game that uses both an iPhone (or an iPod Touch) and miniature vehicles. After taking the stage, the developers laid down a race-track mat and placed toy cars on top.
The iPhone, acting as a "brain," controlled the vehicles as they drove, unaided, around the course. 500 times each second, the cars collected and sent data back to the phone. When commanded, one car sped up and maneuvered its way around the others. When the rest of the pack was told to block the speeding car, it tried to steer itself around them.
Eventually the red car activated its weapons and blew the competitors off the track.
While the technology was impressive and certainly functioned well, it's difficult to see from this short demo what sort of game Anki Drive is going to become. It had a very "auto-pilot" feel to it. Personally, I'd like to see where this technology goes next. Strategic board games with moving pieces, anyone?
This new operating system won't affect mobile gaming the way a new iPhone model would, but it does include several small upgrades that are going to make playing your handheld games more convenient.
For starters, games and other apps can be updated automatically in the background. Developers release patches for their games all the time in order to fix glitches, update compatibility with new iPhones, and much more. Instead of tapping into the App Store and manually installing new features, which happens more frequently than you might think, your games will be ready to play whenever you are.
Because iOS 7 has a heavy focus on layering, Apple added a neat motion sensor feature that creates a sense of depth. For example, from the home screen, just by tilting your device back and forth, a pseudo-3D effect makes it look as though the icons are floating above the background. While not a huge update, I wouldn't put it past some of the cleverest game designers to craft a unique experience with this technology.
Apple's new Control Center is available anywhere (just swipe up) and it includes options to toggle wi-fi, bluetooth, and airplane mode on and off. Some games operate smoother with or even require these various connection modes, so you'll no longer have to dive into the tedious settings menu to adjust them.
And of course, as promised every time, iOS 7 was designed with low power consumption in mind. Maybe now we'll be able to squeeze a few more minutes out of the battery-sucking Infinity Blade II.
iOS 7 is coming this fall.
[Read on to learn about upcoming Game Center changes and Apple's announcement of controller support]