Apple iOS 4.1 and Game Center

Apple’s announcements this week brought the usual set of new products and general ballyhoo, but only a couple actually concern us here.

First, the iPod Touch is getting a full iPhone 4 upgrade for new models. The more powerful A4 processor, the 940×640 retina display, and video conferencing will be available in new versions of the hardware. For gamers, this means sharper graphics and greater processing power.

Second, Apple is getting ready to roll out their Game Center with next week’s iOS 4.1 software update. The Game Center is an application that offers several notable features for gamers, including matchmaking services, friends lists, social networking features, leaderboards, and achievements.vGames can be downloaded and started from within the Game Center, which will function as a central hub for all your device’s gaming elements.

Game Center could be a fairly huge upgrade for App gamers who like to use multiplayer features. It promises to bring a miniaturized Xbox Live experience to App smartphones and similar devices. The matchmaking feature (called “auto-matching” by Apple out of sheer cussedness) promises to turn devices into powerful multiplayer gaming centers.

Project Sword for iOS 4, from Epic Games.

As though to prove just what this might mean, Apple had Epic Games demo their new title, Project Sword. Built with a mobile version of the Unreal engine, it appears to be a full online third-person action game experience built specifically for mobile devices. Since I’m still not impressed with the efficacy of the smartphone as a shooter plaform, I’m hoping that a team with Epic will finally show us how it can be done.

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