iPhone OS 3.0 brings microtransactions, Bluetooth and P2P play to the iPhone/iPod Touch

by: Dan -
Apple held one of their super-secret, invite-only events at Cupertino yesterday to unveil the new iPhone 3.0 OS to the media. The update will have all kinds of long-awaited and cool pieces to it including cut, copy & paste and updated turn-by turn map features. But the interesting stuff for the GamingNexus faithful involves how it will impact gaming for both the touch and iPhone. There were three major announcements in this regard, with two of them related. The first was that microtransactions are coming and the other two are that the iPod Touch will get Bluetooth support and that with this will come peer-to-peer play.

Microtransactions
That didn't take long. While microtransactions have been rampant on the console and PC platforms for years now, the iPhone/iPod Touch market had been immune due to the inability of Apple to create a way for developers to charge users for application upgrades. However, in yesterday's announcement of the new iPhone 3.0 op system, Apple revealed that it had developed the new "In-App Purchase" system to allow microtransactions to take place only on paid applications. All the billing is taken care of by Apple and comes off the users iTunes account. A demo of the system was shown on EA's upcoming The Sims 3 (see image below courtesy of James Martin/CNET).

While this always seems like a negative, the biggest benefit is that developers should be able to charge less up front for their titles and then add levels, objects or items at a later date. Anyone that owns a next-gen console is familiar with the practice. In addition, this should allow the smart developers to keep their best apps in the limelight by allowing for more frequent may make applications (especially the games) more sustainable for a period of time

Bluetooth and peer-to-peer
Apple has built a new system off the Bonjour tech that will allow for the touches and phones to start talking to each other. Apparently the 2nd Generation touches have had the Bluetooth chip in them all along, but Apple had left it dormant. Your $9.95 microtransaction upgrade fee will unlock this feature and is probably worth every penny. Once the upgrade has been complete, then Touch and iPhone users can seek out and play against each other in multiplayer games. This is significant, as it adds one of the key missing ingredients that PSP and DS owners have had for a long time.

The iPhone 3.0 op system will be a free update to all iPhone users (although 1st gen phones wont support everything) and will be available as a one-time $9.95 upgrade fee for iPod touch users. The release is slated for sometime "this summer" according to Greg Joswiak, Apple's VP of iPhone and iPod marketing.
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