Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Future In The Present (part #3 or so)

From the WayBack Machine of A Few Weeks Ago, I noted that Android phones supporting version 4.0 of the OS had both HDMI output and support for USB controllers.

Apple has its own version of "future in the present", and reader Mike Dunn explains it:
I have this and have played it: 
Real Racing 2 with 1080p output .

There are multiple ways you can play this game:
1. The way described in the article--plugging your iPad into the tv.
2. If you have an iPad AND AppleTV you don't even need the cord, you just stream from your device to the tv (Dual Screen AirPlay Gaming Demo with Real Racing 2 HD).  
3. There is multiplayer that allows iphones to join in on the racing fun as well.

Now, obviously this is on iPad, but it's available for iPhone as well.

Very interesting, and here's more, from Matt Shields:
When I saw your note about USB gamepads plugging into mobile devices, plugging into TVs, I wondered if you'd seen this:
AirPlay Mirroring on iPad 2.

It's an iPad 2, wirelessly transmitting game video to an HDTV. It's acting as both the console, controller and supplemental display for various videogames. And it works. Today. (Game demos proper starting at ~1m 36s). Granted, the latency makes it a little dodgy for some genres. But I think improvement on that side is more likely to produce something that catches on; rather than solutions involving sets of cables.

Apple (iOS to Apple TV), Microsoft (phone7 to xbox), Google (android to googleTV) and Sony (ngp to ps3/bravia) are all positioned to make this a reality sooner, rather than later. Nintendo has the appearance of having understood this move, but has the architecture exactly backwards.

(Tangentially: A single hardware iteration is all any of them need -- which highlights the seriousness of the challenge Apple and Google present to Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. Apple and Google are innovating and improving every single year. The pricing and upgrade rate of mobile devices and set-top boxes are massively in their favor. Can Microsoft and Sony remain relevant, after this next-generation, if they stay on a hardware cycle of even five years?)

Finally, what I take away from all this mobile gaming progress, is concern for the future of the gamepad. I don't think it's going away. Very little actually does. But it certainly looks like its de-emphasis, kicked off by the Wii, is continuing; if not accelerating.

Matt makes an excellent point about the hardware cycle. I strongly believe that innovation is more rapid with short hardware cycles and maximum competition. That's what exists in the mobile phone market today. It's not what exists in the console market, though, as both Sony and Microsoft much prefer a 7+ year hardware cycle (compared to <2 in the cellphone industry).

It's easy to envision a future where our gaming consoles are in our pockets. It's a handheld when we're away from home, but at home, it's a fully-featured gaming console with 1080p output and gamepad support. It's also our phone and about a dozen other things.

Actually, I would be very surprised if that's not the future.

Here's one variation on the future: tablets doing the same thing. And they're already doing it, as Jeff Forrester noted when he sent this link:
GameStop Cancels Its Own Tablet But Delivers Android Tablets, Wireless Android Controller. Gamestop's "hybrid" of existing tablets includes HDMI output and gamepad support.

I've mentioned more than once in the last two years that I was disappointed at the glacial rate of innovation in the console market as companies tried to extend the lifespan of consoles beyond "the natural order" of things. Now I realize that innovation is happening as quickly as ever--it's just happening in another place.

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