#Apple Entering into the Gaming Industry. [INFO]

Apple entering the gaming industry  has been a topic of discussion for a long time. Some people think they already made their move and it’s still playing out. Some people think they are yet to drop the bomb. Most oversimply the issue.

There’s a funny thing, though, about the way proponents of Apple (I say this without denigration) cheer-lead their champion. In a lot of ways, there’s already an Apple in the games industry: it’s the Games Industry. Apple is filling the position in the games industry that Android fills in the mobile world.

Part of what makes it problematic to discuss is that is that it’s really difficult to disentangle content from platform these days, both in mobile and gaming (and mobile gaming, for that matter). The complex network of relationships, channels, and emerging methods for distribution make practically every comparison apples to oranges.

I’m not going to unravel that knot just now. I’ll get to the nut of the issue instead of dancing around it.

One of Apple’s greatest strengths, something that it understood early and has exploited continuously, is the value of the premium platform — including hardware, of course. They were always, and remain, the premium choice in consumer tech. As others have put it, this moots certain comparisons: you can’t, they say, compare a Ferrari to a Toyota. And that idea is not without legitimacy.

So it’s funny when the opposite seems to apply for the games industry. There’s already a premium product out there: the triple-A games produced by huge studios like Ubisoft, EA, Valve, and so on. The Xbox 360 and PS3, and soon the Xbox 720 and PS4, or whatever they’re called, have always been and will continue to be the premium platform — something that has worked well for Apple elsewhere, and something they’ll never be in the games space.

Why? Here’s that content-platform thing again. Apple simply isn’t a triple-A platform for games. Sure, there are great games on it, good-looking games, expensive games. And millions of people play them. But let’s not kid ourselves.

Notice that almost everything relating to the success of games on iOS is in terms of numbers downloaded and hours played. In like wise, one could say that YouTube is far more of a success than Hollywood, based on viewer hours. In a way, it’s true! But what is iOS’s Godfather? What is its Shadow of the Colossus? Angry Birds and Infinity Blade are arguably is the closest thing to either. Talk about comparing a Ferrari to a Toyota.

In the other corner is a premium platform with exclusive, popular content — the very thing Apple was when Android entered the scene. And now Apple is playing the scrappy underdog, eating up all the low-end users, winning on volume instead of quality. It’s the same strategy that provokes such venom against Android! Thousands of options, barely differentiated, priced to sell, with wildly varying quality, except for a few high-end flagship items – am I talking about Android handsets or the games in the App Store? Hard to tell, isn’t it?

And of course, that’s a recipe for success, as either Apple or Google can tell you. But again, as either can tell you, it’s hardly a recipe for total domination. For that, one must control the vertical and the horizontal.

All the same, it’s funny to see the bottom-up strategy of the App Store and Android reviled one moment and then praised the next.

So far, so obvious. But the unknown creeps in when you consider how platforms may evolve over the next five years — which is about what we can realistically expect for the life of the next consoles, with increased entropy due to changing markets.

The platform/content thing enters again, bringing with it quite a bit of uncertainty. How long is Call of Duty and its ilk going to remain a console exclusive? It’s practical now, and I’m willing to speculate that it will be practical two years from now. After that, things get more hazy.

The way people acquire and play games is changing in a serious way. Will the next consoles have huge hard drives to store downloaded games? Will they stream them over high-speed internet? Will they integrate with smartphones? Will they use discs? Will they allow used games? Will they replace your set-top box? Will they be open to hacking? The answers to the questions are maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, and that’s hilarious. And there are a lot of other questions that will need to be answered before we can really start making predictions.

What about Microsoft, whose long-term three-screen plan is in serious jeopardy? What about Sony, which is in many ways falling to pieces (not in all cases a bad thing)? What about Google, which is a total wildcard? What about the publishers, who know which way the wind is blowing but can’t abandon ship yet?

There are too many variables to say with any kind of assurance how things will be in a few years. Apple will continue to make its play for the living room, but supplanting the consoles is out of the question (not that many have advanced this notion). But it isn’t going to enter the space in a way that requires them to abandon the last five years of app and device development, and they’re not going to compete directly against an opponent that offers a product they can’t hope to match. They may like to lead the charge, but they’re no Leeroy Jenkins.


iOS 5 Beta 7 goes Live for Developers:

Apple has released a new beta of iOS 5, less than two weeks after the last one. Not much of interest pops out of build 9A5313E’s release notes, but we’d presume it squashes a fair share of bugs. Hit up settings to begin the roughly 70MB OTA update, or test those browser downloading skills at the dev portal linked below. And while you’re there, don’t forget to snag updated versions of Xcode, iTunes, and an updated firmware for the second-generation AppleTV. Peep a screenshot of the OTA after the break and let us know how you fare in comments.

 -(via engadget)

Apple files patent application to learn the sound of your voice.

Apple files another patent application: User profiling for voice input processing.


Apple, which recently filed a patent application for a technology to keep screens on mobile devices free of fingerprints, is upping the ante by filing for a new application that could keep you fingers from even touching the screen in the first place.

The application is for what Apple calls User Profiling for Voice Input Processing, which it describes as being able to identify your voice and understand complex commands. Need to make a playlist? No problem, just ask. Need to call your friend? Just say so. The patent application says all these commands are possible: play, call, and search. According to the application, it would allow the user to “find my most played song with a 4-star rating and create a Genius playlist using it as a seed.”

Apple’s interest in voice commands is not new. In April 2010, Apple bought Siri, a small company that created an app that let users operate their iPhone with voice commands. Apple is expected to deeply integrate voice navigation technology from Siri into the upcoming iOS 5.

CNET‘s Josh Lowensohn previously wrote that Siri’s voice technology “can listen to user voice commands to make phone calls and control music playback. Hints that Apple has been planning to improve it have been numerous, from patents to job postings.”

Apple competitors are also on the voice path. Microsoft uses speech recognition services in its Windows Phone 7 OS and Google integrated Voice Control into its Android platform.

-(via CNET)

Google+ for iOS gets iPad, iPod touch and iOS 5 support

Google released a relatively small update to its Google+ app for iOS on Monday. It doesn’t introduce any extraordinary new features, but does add compatibility with the iPad and iPod touch, and the pre-release version of iOS 5. There are also some additions to the Huddle feature.

Before the latest update (the latest version is now, the app wouldn’t even install on an iPad or iPod touch. However, while this version still isn’t Universal, so while iPad users will have to use pixel-doubling compatibility mode, it will install on all iOS devices running iOS 4 or later. The app is also much more stable, including on the developer preview of iOS 5, and removes a few bugs (like the inability to view Streams or Profiles) which cropped up in the previous version.

There are also some additional features in the Huddle section of the app. You can now hide or mute specific Huddles, so you won’t be notified of new messages in the conversation. Also added was the ability to rename a Huddle to make it easier to distinguish between conversations. Lastly, you can also decline an invitation to a Huddle from your device, and leave a Huddle you are participating in.

iTunes 11 to feature new UI and iCloud integration?

Sick and tired of looking at the same old interface every time you load up iTunes? If rumors turn out to be true, then you’re in luck. The folks over at idownloadblog.com claimed that a reliable source of theirs tipped them off about Apple’s next version of the music, video, app and iOS syncing software. The next version of iTunes, iTunes 11 is said to have a major overhaul and will be revamped from the ground up.

In addition to a new UI, that is supposed to be slick and cleaner, iTunes 11 is said to feature closer iTunes integration. Instead of the iTunes Store being a web browser (like what it is now), the new iTunes Store will be integrated into the entire app, like what Spotify is currently. Since iCloud will be integrated into iTunes, the program will function similar to how Dropbox works – files that are backed up onto the cloud will be automatically downloaded onto your computer, giving you a hassle-free way to back up and transfer files wirelessly. Even app data will be synced to iCloud and with your iTunes library.

No word when iTunes 11 will be released, but it’ll probably be at the same time as iOS 5, and hopefully the next iPhone as well. Stay tuned for more details