It was always only ever going to be a matter of time before Apple got even more serious about computer games than they already are and yesterday’s announcement of both the iPad Pro and new Apple TV laid a pretty hefty marker in the ground. It’s a development that Xbox, PlayStation and especially Nintendo will be well aware of, but are they enough to radically change the face of gaming?
On the face of things, probably not, but it is yet another firm stride into the computer games market for Apple and if it’s as successful as it could well be then it will inevitably lead to yet more from the Californian tech giants.
Games have always been available to play on Macs, but for a long while they’ve played second fiddle to the much bigger popularity of PC gaming, but with the launch of both the Apple App Store in 2010 and the development of mobile gaming on the iPhone it took a big step forward. Since then mobile phone apps like Angry Birds and Leo’s Fortune have helped to establish the mobile platform and much more serious games like Tomb Raider have been released for the Mac thanks to the growth of the App Store.
Now it will have what is fundamentally its very first home entertainment device thanks to the motion censor controller that it’s new Apple TV set comes bundled up with. If that isn’t enough to leave Nintendo more than a little nervous, it’s also announced the iPad Pro, which will deliver a high powered tablet device capable of next gen gaming years ahead of the planned Nintendo NX, which is heavily rumoured to do just that itself.
Nintendo isn’t exactly standing still in itself, with the first of its mobile app games, Pokemon Shuffle Mobile, recently released, but it has got to feel the pressure with a new big player treading on its toes. With a similar device to their most successful console, the Wii, arriving in the new Apple TV and the next platform, the NX, getting slightly gazumpted with the arrival of the iPad Pro it’s going to need to go to the mattresses to ride out the next few years.
It’s not just Nintendo that need to be concerned either as the two new devices could represent a threat to both the Xbox ONE and PS4, especially when combined. If you can play a next gen comparable Mac version of Hitman, for example, and hook it up to your Apple TV box through air play you suddenly have the potential for a credible alternative to both the Xbox ONE and PlayStation 4 that you can play anywhere making it the first console, hand-held, mobile hybrid with the power to deliver high end graphics and gaming. It’s the holy grail and its on the way.
New Apple TV
The new Apple TV will come with all of the existing functionality, but adding in its own App Store, which unlocks everything from the potential of its own subscription service like Netflix – if it ever gets around to developing one – to a whole host of new games to play on your TV. Throw in the touch sensitive panel and motion responsive control and it results in a very Wii-like games console.
It will also use Siri to provide to provide voice commands similar to the Xbox ONE and will be launched in the States at $149 and $199 dollars, depending on the amount of storage it comes with. In the UK, we’re expecting it to retail in the region of £99 and £150 for the two storage options and it’s release date should be around mid Autumn 2015.
You can check out the trailer for the new entertainment system below, but sadly it only includes a short snippet of the gaming side of the device, but it’s definitely enough to get the idea.
The launch of the iPad Pro will take place in November, bringing a very powerful, bigger screen tablet device that will combine a notebook, laptop and gaming system all under one roof. The screen will be 12.9in (32.8cm), making it similar to that of a 13in Macbook Pro laptop screen, and it will come with a massive upgrade of processing speed, so it should be lightning fast, delivering the capabilities for high-end gaming.
The screen is 5.6 million pixels, making it the highest-resolution Retina display of any iOS device and it’ll be fired by the new A9X chip, which has 1.8x the CPU performance and 2x the graphics performance of the iPad Air 2. It’s just just 6.9 millimetres thin and weighs 713 grams, making it pretty portable for gaming on the move, and it’s got 4 high-fi speakers built directly into the body, so it should be able to power out the blast sounds well.
It also comes with the option to add a hyper sensitive stylus, which will be an important one for the Photoshop generation, and a new magnetically-connected keyboard, so you’ll be able to write, draw, design, game and manage the accounts on the tablet device. It’s expected battery life is 10 hours and will cost from $799 to $1,079 in the US, so we’d expect between £500 and £750 in the UK. The stylus is down as costing $99 in the US and the keyboard at $169, which should translate to somewhere in the region of £65 and £110 respectively when they get their released in the UK in November.