Will iPhone/iOS 5 get real world multi-player gaming APIs?
Multiplayer real life/augmented reality gaming on mobile devices is not a very new thing these days.
Foursquare started it’s business on it. There are also quite a few iPhone games, like Gunman, that let’s you do some sort of Augmented Reality gaming with your mobile device. But Gunman, and other games like this have to rely on their own image recognition and other techniques to make them work.
Now Apple wants to take the possibility of interactive iPhone to iPhone real world gaming a step further, by natively including device state – location, position, direction and orientation – sharing capabilities into iOS.
With this new capability, game developers can use real life location, orientation, time and movement data of connected iPhone devices in their gaming environment.
The most obvious implementation would be a first person “shooter” game like Gunman, where developer uses this newly available data to determine whether another player is in a shooting range and place “gun” crosshairs on him. But with the device state data shared in real time via 3G network, creation of games that merge virtual and real world are much wider and can spawn a whole new class of social apps.
Apple is not the only one exploring these new interaction possibilities, offered by always-on, connected and place aware devices. Nokia, Microsoft, Sony Ericsson and other companies have a bunch of similar patent applications pending too.
But, if they make the device state sharing available in iOS 5 as a set of new API’s for game developers, Apple might be the first to get the interactive real world mobile gaming right.