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Apple sets the framework for "high-end games" with tvOS & iOS 14

26 Jun 2020 | Rasmus Larsen |

At WWDC20, Apple detailed new frameworks to bring "high-end games to iOS". Game developers can now require an A12 chip or later. Keyboard, mouse, and advanced controller features will be added, and Game Center will be revamped.

High-end games

FlatpanelsHD recently explored Apple TV's path to becoming a real game console and at WWDC20 the company responded with several new initiatives. First and foremost, tvOS and iOS 14 will let developers require an A12 chip or later for "bringing high-end games and professional desktop applications to iOS". It will let game developers create more graphics-intensive games, although they will be limited to more recent devices. The current Apple TV 4K is powered by a weaker A10X chip but an upgraded box with A12X has been rumored for a while. What types of games can run on A12X? At WWDC20, the company demonstrated Shadow of the Tomb Raider (1:41 in the video below) and "Dirt Rally at high frame rates" running on A12Z (A12X with an additional GPU core unlocked) in the developer Mac Mini via x86-to-ARM emulation. The company's 3D graphics API, Metal, also supports ray-tracing.

Keyboard, mouse, advanced controllers

With last year's iOS and tvOS 13, Apple added support for Sony's DualShock 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One controllers. With iOS and tvOS 14, the company is taking it further with support for additional controllers, including Xbox Elite 2 and Xbox Adaptive Controller, and more advanced types of input, feedback, and features. Games can take advantage of motion sensors and haptics/rumble in game controllers, including the DualShock 4 and Xbox One controller. Lights in controllers will also work, including the lightbar in DualShock 4. Furthermore, games can now indicate on-screen the controller's battery level. The company will add support for non-standard inputs, including the touchpad on DualShock 4 and the paddle buttons on Xbox Elite 2. Users can even remap buttons on controllers, either globally or per game. This functionality is already implemented in the tvOS 14 beta as seen below.
Apple TV controller re-map
In tvOS 14 you can re-map buttons on game controllers, globally or per game
Another big development is support for keyboard, mouse, and touchpads in games on tvOS and iOS 14. The company said that its goal is to better support genres of games that are not always fit for multi-touch or game controllers, including first-person shooters and strategy games. Also read: Apple tvOS 14: Expanded multi-user, AirPlay 2, PiP & HomeKit - YouTube 4K Lastly, the company announced "a beautifully redesigned Game Center" that will live inside games where it provides achievements, leaderboards, and multi-player features. Multi-user support will enabled for games on Apple TV to let each player use a separate Game Center account. It is another step forward for Apple TV on its path to becoming a real game console. The next step is more powerful hardware.
Apple TV Game Center
Apple's redesigned Game Center for achievements, leaderboards & multi-player
- Source: WWDC20, Apple developer portal



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