Apple’s iOS 4.1 brings Game Center to iPod touch, iPhone

This article was originally written for the now-defunct Site of the Gaming Dead video game blog on September 2, 2010. I have done my best to recreate the article here, though not all images originally published with the article are still available.

Apple is getting social with the latest iteration of its music player/app manager/game center, the iPod touch. In an event hosted in San Francisco Wednesday, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs presented the newest iPod touch, complete with the rumored front-facing camera and support for FaceTime, allowing two iPod touch or iPhone 4 users to video chat via Wi-Fi, along with an update to the iOS software which will add a “Game Center” app to all iOS 4.1-powered devices.

The Game Center app will allow you to play with your friends (or auto-match you with existing players “if you don’t have any friends,” Jobs said). You will also be able to look at a leaderboard featuring your friends or players of the game around the world and compare achievements (or the lack thereof).

Players can also find new friends, approve friend requests, and check out what existing friends are playing. Once you sign in with your Apple ID, you can create several aliases to use, and add multiple email addresses so that your friends can easily find you. You stay signed in until you opt to sign out.

Apple is certainly beginning to take gaming seriously; the iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad all advertise their gaming capabilities, and have many unique features, from built-in GPS to accelerometers, that other gaming platforms can’t really emulate. The Game Center app is both a portal for gaming and an API for developers to take their games “to the next level” and introduce a more social, multiplayer aspect.

To further add fuel to the fire, Epic Games’ President Mike Capps joined Jobs on stage for the introduction of the Game Center to announce “Code Name: Project Sword,” a new game for the Game Center that will take advantage of iOS 4.1’s leaderboard and multiplayer features. This first game for Game Center is a “fantasy-based roleplaying game” built using the Unreal Tournament engine. Capps added that all the social gaming elements are done by the Game Center app, so all you have to do is approve friends and challenge them.

iOS 4.1 will be released the week of September 7 as a free download to all iPod touch and iPhone 4 users. The newest iOS software is also compatible with iPhone 3GS, but there are recommendations against upgrading to the newest iOS 4+ software if you only have an iPhone 3G.