Apple's iPhone 4S brings a number of new features to the table, but only a few are relevant to gaming. Chiefly, the A5 processor and its GPU increase the capabilities of the phone considerably. The dual-core A5, the same one found in the iPad 2, offers twice the computing power of the iPhone 4. But the new GPU, a PowerVR SGX543MP2, is where it's really at, and it will offer a seven-fold increase in its capabilities when compared to the iPhone 4. But it's all about the developers who take advantage of more-powerful hardware. The A5 processor has only been used on the iPad 2 until now, and with the processor being deployed to the iPhone 4S, it gives developers a greater impetus to create graphically complex games for a much broader audience. The upcoming Infinity Blade II makes use of the A5's processing abilities.
iOS 5, the mobile operating system that powers Apple's mobile devices, will also bring Game Center updates with it. Game Center was initially released on iOS 4, and it acts as a social network for games within the Apple world. It records high scores, doles out achievements, and basically lets you compare and share your accomplishments with your friends. But like Ping--Apple's social networking service for music--there was no way to import friends lists from third-party services, which turns out to be a big stumbling block for any new social network. The iOS 5 update for Game Center solves that problem. Game Center on iOS 5 will also let you add a profile picture, browse games without leaving the app, and give you an overall achievement score that is compiled from all the games you play.
iCloud Game Saves
iCloud, which is also bundled within iOS 5, brings some interesting changes for gaming to Apple's devices. Using Apple's iCloud service, developers will let gamers store gameplay data profiles in the cloud, along with saved games. Cloud-saved games should be a boon to gamers with multiple iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch). With any luck, it will solve the issue of having to start games anew on each device. Developers will have to individually build cloud support into their apps, so it won't be an instantaneous upgrade. Apple will give 5GB of free data to all users, and additional storage can be purchased as needed. Apple will offer an extra 10GB for $20 a year, 20GB for $40 per year, and 50GB for $100 per year. The service will also sync contacts, calendars, documents, photos, and data from various applications.
Additional iPhone 4S and iOS 5 Updates
The iPhone 4S comes with an 8MP camera that has quick shutter speeds and can record 1080p video. Two antennas improve the phone's reception and bandwidth. Apple also demonstrated Siri, a virtual assistant that you can talk to get basic answers, like stock quotes, weather updates, contact information, and more. iOS 5 also brings with it upgrades to the notification system, a new messaging service, reminders, Twitter integration, and an easier to use camera.
The iPhone 4S 16GB will cost $199 with two-year contracts. 32GB and 64GB variants will cost $299 and $399, respectively.
The iPhone 4S will be available on October 14, and iOS 5 will make its way to the public on October 12. It will be available on Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon. For more iPhone 4S coverage check out CNET. (Images courtesy of CNET.)