Tech News on G4

iPhone 4 plus Gyroscope a Game Changer

July 30, 2010

By Greg Gazin - Apple Gazin’ - G4 Canada

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iPhone 4"iPhone 4 is the biggest leap since the original iPhone", said Apple CEO Steve Jobs when he recently unveiled the forthcoming 4th generation device at WWDC10, Apple's Worldwide Developer conference in San Francisco.

One of the biggest advances for gamers and games development on the iPhone platform since the accelerometer is the introduction of a 3-axis gyroscope to the device.

Now Apple had introduced the accelerometer as a feature of the iPhone back in 2007 as a means of detecting when the device's orientation had been changed from portrait to landscape and then switching the display to accommodate the change. This same technology opened new doors for game developers in the handheld device arena, creating an entirely new platform. Many immediately took advantage of the new technology but the market really exploded with the release of Apple's SDK (Software Development Kit) leading to creation of titles like Monkey Ball, putting the iPhone on the same playing field with dedicated handheld gaming devices like the Nintendo DS.

Another Huge Leap

Since then, the number and selection of titles developed for the iPhone has grown by leaps and bounds, but Apple's latest move is certainly - pardon the pun, a game changer. By combining the existing accelerometer of iPhone and adding a 3-axis gyro allows for motion sensing on 6 axes, opens up a whole new world of possibilities for game developers and potentially a whole new category of games.

Jobs described the 3-axis gyro as the ability "to detect pitch, yaw and roll, plus rotation around gravity".  This means the ability to detect moving up and down, turning side to side, as well as movement along a surface.

A simple illustration was enough to wow the audience. Jobs demonstrated a Jenga-like game – where you need to remove a block from the middle of the structure, place it on top and then balance it. What sealed the deal was when Jobs spun around; the entire structure went with him. These things mean a lot to gamers especially with respect to precision and the ability to move like one would in real life.

Other changes in the iPhone are also a boon to gamers; the faster, more efficient and energy effective Apple A4 chip; the dual cameras (front and back) and Apple's new higher resolution Retina display (960 x 640) boasting an 800:1 contrast ratio for deeper blacks and more vibrant colours. The Retina display offers a faster refresh, smooth motion and a crisper image and with a line resolution beyond what a human eye can detect, eliminating the jaggies in text - all contributing to a better gaming experience.

Games are Here !

iPhone 4Since WWDC10 we've seen new and revised titles hit the market. Two revised titles that go way beyond "Jenga" are Eliminate: Gun Range by ngmoco and N.O.V.A (Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance) by Gameloft. (both have free and pay versions)

Eliminate: Gun Range is a very simple first person shooter game and one of the first to be enhanced to incorporate the gyro. It's a simple first person shooter, but with the addition of the gyro, it moves like you do and makes it feel like you're holding the gun.

Released last year for the 3GS,  and recently for iPhone 4, N.O.V.A truly shows the application of both the gyro and the Retina display. No doubt the graphics are significantly better, but the action of aiming the weapon and going on reconnaissance missions seem like a truly new experience, adding even more reality (as far as reality goes) to the mix. To see the real difference, watch the video below then watch the non-gyro version. Or even better yet, download them and try them.


Now In Canada, Eh!

The iPhone  4 will be available in Canada starting today. You can purchase iPhone 4 on-line or at an Apple Store. Reduced pricing is available with a contract directly through your wireless carrier.


Greg Gazin can be reached at  gadgetguy "at" telus "dot" net Or

N.O.V.A by Gameloft

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