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The good, the bad and the ugly of Apple's latest tech

The products of developers hinge on the features of the operating system and hardware offered to them. As many consistently push against the boundaries of the technology available, new advancements are always an exciting prospect for developers eager for more galloping room.

Sharing their thoughts with Polygon, game developers believe the release of iOS 7 and the two new phones will benefit them, while outlining their expectations for the upcoming iPad, which is speculated to be unveiled this week.

The iOS GM Seed was released to developers on Sept. 10 to the public Sept. 18 for the iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini and the fifth-generation iPod touch. Originally revealed during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference 2013 keynote, iOS 7 includes the revamped Game Center, a kids category for games in the App Store and support for third-party game controllers.

These consumer-oriented features are welcomed additions alongside the myriad of developer-specific additions rolled out that game creators can take advantage of.

"There's several cool visual things like gyroscopic parallax viewing that we can play with in-game, and some others that happen pretty passively but actually are a huge deal for game developers including automatic app updates," Phil Larsen, Halfbrick Studios' chief marketing officer told Polygon. "Now we have better confidence that a higher number of players will have the latest content and can message accordingly."

"There's several cool visual things like gyroscopic parallax viewing that we can play with in-game."

The Game Center's design overhaul is great for usability for players, according to Larsen, saying that it is a welcome upgrade for the developer of blockbuster mobile titles such as Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride.

"It's important for players to understand exactly who they are connected to, who has what scores and how they can play online, so having that improvement in our toolkit is fantastic," Larsen explained.

iOS 7's introduction of Open GLES 3.0, the next-generation graphics library for mobile devices is the new feature that hooked the eye of Kynan Woodman's, producer of Firemonkey's Real Racing 3.

"It allows us to take greater advantage of the power GPUs in these devices so we can make even more detailed games with greater performance," he said.

Woodman is also looking forward to the standard interface for game controllers, which he says can give players even more choice of controls when playing Firemonkey's games.

"However we are a still waiting for availability of controllers," he said. The only other negativity that he pointed out was that with the onslaught of new iOS features equates to a fatter OS to take into consideration when developing a game.

"All the new features added to iOS 7 has meant it takes up a bit more memory, so we have had to make some small changes to account for that," he said.

Larsen pointed out, that while not directly related to iOS 7, Apple's increase of its over-the-air limit to 100MB has a direct positive bearing on what game developers can offer players.

"This is huge v for the longest time we were stuck at 20MB, and then moved to 50MB relatively recently," he said. "The fact that this is a limit that is now continually increasing is awesome — Halfbrick games anywhere, anytime with the bare minimum of hindrances. We make as simple and small games as we can anyway, but this is just great breathing room."

The two new iPhones recently announced include the jauntily coloured iPhone 5C, which features many specifications touted by the iPhone 5, with the addition of an A6 chip and sports an 4-inch retina display.


The high-end iPhone 5S's guts consist of an A7 64-bit chip, allowing iOS 7 and Apple's first-party applications to run in 64-bit. The M7 motion co-processor works alongside the A7 to monitor the smartphone's gyroscope, accelerometer and compass.

As for the new capabilities, especially in relation to the iPhone 5C, Larsen says it will provide Halfbrick with more leg room to create their games.

"The new phones are a pretty solid upgrade in power," Larsen said. "We are never going to be reaching for Infinity Blade AAA level of powerhouse graphics, it's just not who we are. But you would be surprised at how extraordinarily intensive just a simple 2D texture can be!"

"The improved performance of a new device is always exciting as a game developer because we can add graphical and gameplay improvements that may not have been possible on previous devices," Woodman said.

Apple is set to hold an event in San Francisco Oct. 22, where the company is speculated to reveal details on MacBook Pros, features for OS X 10.9 Mavericks and its next-generation iPad. Greater performance, faster app downloads and even better screens, were the features Larsen listed as desires for the new iPad, saying NFC would also be a welcomed addition.

"I love the smaller form factor, but I want a tablet with teeth."

"The new iPad mini with Retina display is a rumor, and that will be great to ensure everyone has the same level of graphical fidelity," he said. "Another long-anticipated feature is actually NFC technology which has always been absent in iOS devices. We simply want to see what potential there is for NFC in the iOS ecosystem! I doubt that will happen with this particular launch, but it's always worth keeping an eye out for."

For Firemonkey's, the potential for further innovation has the studio slathering at the bit, Woodman says, reiterating that the developer is eager to learn more about the controllers.

"We are always hungry for a more powerful device and although that seems like a given with every announcement, we are always interested in exactly how much faster and how much more memory," he said. "I hope that at their next announcement we hear something about controllers that are supported in iOS 7 or any other new or unique way to interact with the device. We are always playing around with new ways to interact with our games and any new inputs or feedback mechanisms can add to our players user experience."

Sarah Northway, self-confessed Android-fan and developer on IGF-nominated physics puzzler, Incredipede, wants Apple to combine the functionality of the iPad Mini with the graphical prowess of a PC.

"As a developer, I hope gamers realize the importance of choosing a tablet with enough oomph to run those glorious high density retina displays," she said. "The original iPad mini is a great lower-cost option, but it's not as powerful a gaming device as its bigger bro. I hope Apple doubles the RAM in the iPad Mini 2 and gives it that new 64-bit CPU. I love the smaller form factor, but I want a tablet with teeth."

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