Users attempting to sign into Apple’s Game Center have been prompted with a new Terms of Service (ToS) agreement which they must pretend to read and then agree to before they’re allowed to access the service. Turns out this is one of the times when maybe we should have read the fine print, as the latest provisions now allow Game Center to give out players’ real names to other users. The note attached to the update reads:
“IMPORTANT NOTE: We have changed the Game Center terms and conditions to provide you notice that if you send a friend invitation, the full name associated with your Apple ID will be shared with the recipient. If you accept a friend invitation, the full name associated with your Apple ID will be shared with the sender.”
On the surface, this isn’t a big deal. After all, if you’re sending or receiving friend requests you likely already know who it’s coming from, or it might be helpful to have a real name to go along with a username so you know that xXX_Princess Spanx_xXx is your buddy Mike.Still, below the surface this change of policy sends up some privacy red flags, as it shows Apple’s willingness to unilaterally share your identity with others, whether you want them to or not.
What makes the move somewhat unnerving is the fact that it’s not an opt-in option, but rather a requirement in order to use Game Center. Apple has basically decided they want to blow the very concept of online anonymity out of the water, so that now if you want to use one of their most popular services, you must also put yourself out there to the public. It seems like Apple may be heading down the Blizzard Real ID route on a smaller scale, and we all remember how that turned out. If it comes right down to it, will you give up a piece of your privacy to continue using Game Center?
Though most of us poor schmucks continue to wait around for Apple to release iOS 4.2 there are some media types who have had access to the update for a while now and have spent some quality time with the new tech. Thankfully, our friends over at TiPb have gone ahead and created a couple of videos to walk us through the new features that 4.2 will bring to the iPad and iPhone.
The iPad video goes in depth on a lot of new features, including AirPlay integration and multitasking. We’re also happy that TiPb dove into the back-end a bit, showing off the new settings and other under the hood changes you might not have noticed had they not been featured in the video. Of course the iPad is also getting a few enhancements that have been on the iPhone for a while now, including Game Center and organizing apps into folders. While Apple’s folder system isn’t the most elegant solution in the world, it’s still very space-saving and helpful to those who thrive on organizing their life.
The iPhone video is a bit shorter as iOS 4.2 is not quite as weighty of a change for Apple’s smaller device. Some major inclusions are the introduction of MobileMe, as well as how to get to the volume and AirPlay controls via swiping the multitasking dock. There’s also mention of AirPrint, though it is rumored this feature may be dropped or altered before iOS 4.2 actually launches. There are also a number of other small changes and improvements you may not have known about before.
So feel free to point your peepers at the video for your relevant iOS device(s) and prepare to amaze your friends when you’re navigating the new system like a pro on launch day while they’re still trying to figure out how to adjust screen brightness. For at least a brief time you can feel completely confident in the fact that you are better than them.
The pending release of iOS 4.2 will include multiplayer support, and Firemint stands at the ready by announcing that Real Racing HD for the iPad will feature online multiplayer once the update goes live. The free feature will be handled via Game Center, allowing players to log in and vie for the checkered flag in races featuring up to 4 human competitors.
This is a nice addition, as the game already supports 6 player local races via Wi-Fi as well as head-to-head races over Bluetooth: now the multiplayer suite of options is fully fleshed-out. While we don’t yet know when iOS 4.2 is coming out (should be any day now), the Real Racing HD update should be available to launch right alongside it.
The inclusion of simultaneous online multiplayer in the latest iOS update shows just how seriously Apple is competing in the handheld gaming space these days. While people largely wrote off mobile gaming back when the iPhone originally launched, Apple’s devices have become a major player in the handheld space and have sent traditional gaming companies like Sony and Nintendo into a minor panic. After all, when you can play games on your phone that are just as good or better than what you find on a traditional handheld, and you end up paying far less per game, what’s the point in buying anything else?
As for the matter at hand, congrats to all those Real Racing HD owners out there who will soon be able to take on other human competitors in the hopes of being crowned king (or queen) of the raceway. We’d throw in a “Gentlemen, start your engines” joke at this point but it just feels forced, so instead we’ll simply say have fun with this new mode.
When I first heard about multiplayer gaming on Game Center, the first thing I thought of brutal bouts of casual gaming goodness. There is just something heart pounding about playing someone else in a game that isn’t overloaded with overly caffeinated teenagers screaming “Head shot… loser!” Sure, there are many people, including myself, who are excited about first person shooter/action multiplayer gaming on the iOS, but my heart just wants to beat up on someone in a mellow game of Flight Control… and by golly, now I can.
To celebrate the release of GameCenter on the iPad with iOS 4.2, Flight Control is adding a slew of features to the Apple Design Award winning game. To help scratch that competitive itch, Firemint is adding an iPad exclusive verses mode map that can be played locally in the app or via Game Center or local Wi-Fi/Bluetooth multiplayer. Not to cut out the peaceful gamers out there (and I’m sure there are many), Flight Control is also adding a co-op multiplayer game that can be played universally via Game Center too, in addition to the already available local Bluetooth or WiFi . Like everything else on Game Center, you can either invite your iOS gaming friends or you can play with/against random players all around the world.
Since I have no chance at competing in the single player high scores, maybe it’ll be possible for me to compete with the masses in some co-op multiplayer gaming. The update isn’t out yet, so hang on to your excitement, but Firemint expects the new update to Flight Control to be out right around the release of iOS 4.2. See you online!
The 4.2 update for iOS devices is rumored to be launching this week, and perhaps no machine is getting more fun new features than the iPad. While many of the additions merely bring the iPad in line with capabilities already possessed by the iPhone and iPod Touch, no one seems to be complaining. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s coming in the update.
AirPlay – Owners will now be able to stream their pictures, videos and music directly from their iPad to their Apple TVs and AirPort Express, as well as to other AirPlay-compatible devices from third-party vendors.
AirPrint: With AirPrint you’ll now be able to wirelessly print from your iPad by allowing iOS 4.2 devices to discover printers on the local network. The only catch is you seem to need the newest version of Snow Leopard to make it work.
Multitasking: Possibly the biggest new feature in iOS 4.2 is multitasking. Just like on the iPhone and iPod touch, a double click on the home button brings up a bar at the bottom of the screen with the last six apps opened. This allows users to switch between apps without having to go to the home screen first.
Folders: iPad users can now finally organize their apps into folders, with up to 20 apps in each folder.
Game Center: Now you can track Achievements and friends on any iOS device and brag about your amazing score regardless of what mobile device you’re carrying. The app is pretty much the same as what’s already available on other iOS machines.
Also just like on the iPhone, swiping to the right on the multitasking panel brings up screen brightness and volume. Apple turned the orientation toggle on the top right of the device into a mute switch, so this area of the multitasking bar now lets you lock your iPad into the desired orientation.
Safari: The ‘+’ button for bookmarking sites is gone and has been replaced with a share button that includes the bookmarking functionality, but also allows you to compose an email with a link to the current page and to print the page with the help of AirPrint. The tab button now also shows how many open tabs you currently have.
Also new is the ability to search for text inside a page. The search feature in Safari now doesn’t just display search suggestions but also tells you how often your search terms appear on the page you are currently looking at. After clicking on one of these results, a new bar appears at the bottom of the browser screen that allows you to jump to all the instances of this keyword and also to refine your search.
Unified Email Inbox: See all your email in one inbox, even if you sync multiple email accounts with your iPad. Gmail accounts can also archive messages rather than deleting them, but if you do want to delete a message it requires going through a couple extra menu screens in order to do so.
So plenty of new toys available for iPad users to check out, now we just have to wait for Apple to throw the switch and make the update live. Once 4.2 is in the wild we will be sure and let you know so you can download it immediately.
On This Episode: OpenFeint currently stands at a crossroads – with Apple taking on OpenFeint in the metagaming space on iOS, they find themselves trying to remain relevant in the long-term. And as of today, it appears as if OpenFeint is looking beyond iOS for the future of their products. Today, OpenFeint is announcing that they are launching their service and Feint Spotlight app for the Android Marketplace, along with launch month titles such as Fruit Ninja from Halfbrick, MiniSquadron from MrFungFung, Flick Kick Football from PikPok, and Mega Jump from Get Set Games.
The CEO of OpenFeint, Jason Citron, was kind enough to sit down and speak with me about this announcement and what OpenFeint is doing in the future on iOS. According to Jason, OpenFeint’s goal is to unify the various platforms – for people to be able to play games with their friends on other phones, to bridge the gap between the various hardware that people have. As well as their future on Android, OpenFeint is launching tools for developers to let their OpenFeint scoring and achievement systems work with Game Center easily while still taking advantage of OpenFeint features that Game Center does not provide, such as replays, asynchronous multiplayer services, and the upcoming voice chat feature PlayTime, launching with OpenFeint 3.0.
Jason Citron spoke at length with me on the new episode of The Portable Podcast to discuss what they’re doing on Android, the challenges that Android’s various devices bring, and the perception of the Android market versus the reality of the situation. On the iOS side, we talk about how Game Center and OpenFeint can coexist (including Jason recommending that developers take advantage of Game Center), and how iOS fits in the future of OpenFeint.
So I, like everyone else in this great country of ours, downloaded 4.1 today. For some, including owners of the previously thought dead 2nd gen iPod Touch, the 2 hour download couldn’t come fast enough, but for owners of the iPhone 3G, there is no GameCenter. Sorry iPhone 3G owners.
After going through the setup process, I was greeted with the green gym-like screen that we all had seen only in screenshots. The obvious next step was to click on the “Games” tab and download some games, but alas, the link just sends you to apple.com/game-center, a site with no games listed. Discouraged, I set up my status as “Waiting for games”, and then went on my merry way taking pictures with the new HDR feature. It turns out that the only game available was Ms. PAC-MAN, and anyone who has played Ms. PAC-MAN on the iPhone before knows that it… has its quirks.
Fortunately, since then a few notable games have added support, such as Real Racing, Flight Control, and Fieldrunners, so get playing! My Game Center SN is chris148apps, and I expect to have 10,000 friends by midnight.
Firemint, creators of Flight Control and Real Racing, have announced that a number of in-game achievements and leaderboards for their popular games will integrate with Apple’s soon-to-be-released Game Center application, built to bring iPhone and iPod Touch gamers together both socially and competitively.
For Flight Control there are currently three known achievements: Safety Card (read the game tutorial); First Flights (land an aircraft on every level) and Jet Power (land 20 jets in a game). Leaderboards will also exist, presumably for each level, to see exactly who the best flight controller in the world really is, and how you stack up against your friends.
Real Racing will see at least five achievements, including: Real Racer (complete a race using methods B or E); Between the Lines (win the race without going off track); Clean Sweep (get all gold in a championship); Perfectionist (beat the gold qualifying time for all classes) and Cream of the Crop (rank in the top 100 for any track).
What makes Firemint’s integration with Game Center so unique is that the developers won’t be scrapping their established CloudCell platform, which already provides features that Game Center offers, like leaderboards. Instead, where possible, achievements and leaderboards will exist to offer those with older devices a chance to get in on the action. “Originally launched in April 2009, Cloudcell enables extensive connected features and is currently being streamlined to make it even easier to use and even more unobtrusive” writes Firemint. “As well as extensive online leaderboards, both Real Racing and Flight Control integrate with Twitter and Facebook, making it easy to share new personal bests.”
Game Center is supported on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and third/fourth generation iPod Touches, and will roll out next week with the public release of iOS 4.1. If you haven’t yet bought Flight Control or Real Racing, you can read our reviews at the links below. Real Racing was awarded the 148Apps Editor’s Choice badge.
With iOS 4.1 coming out soon, gamers have been prepping for the launch of Game Center, an X-Box Live-like center for the unification of Apple gaming. Early versions of the 4.1 beta included Game Center support on all devices, but the newest version, 4.1 beta 3, dropped iPhone 3G Game Center support altogether. Apple states that the 3G, as well the original iPhone, are simply too slow to run the service.
I’m not exactly sure about the amount of people that are still using iDevices older than 3GS, but I assume that the number is quite large. Adding no support for older devices could be a huge blow to Apple’s dreams of iDevice gaming unification, but I guess that Apple’s message is clear, upgrade or be left behind.
Or who knows, maybe Apple will bring Game Center back to the older iDevices for the 4.1 launch or a later release. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Gameloft has released updates for all three of its Order & Chaos titles. This includes Order & Chaos Online, which adds a new dungeon for players over level 70 and more gem slots on weapons for upgrading. Heroes of Order & Chaos celebrates its first year anniversary by adding two new heroes (Evistix, the Bone […]