There’s an iPad Pro Gamevice Coming This Year

If you’re a fan of the Gamevice, the good news just keeps on coming. Not only is the long-delayed iPad Air version of the Gamevice finally coming this month, but a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro Gamevice is planned for later this year!

A Picture of the Gamevice for iPad Pro
19 inches of Gamevice!

In addition to its larger size, the iPad Pro version seems to have a few additional changes from the other models. According to the tech specs, the Pro version of the Gamevice has a Lightning receptacle instead of a Micro USB port, meaning no more carrying around two cables just to charge your device and controller. Even more importantly, the size of the iPad Pro means that the Gamevice no longer blocks the iPad’s headphone jack. This means the Pro Gamevice no longer has its own headphone jack and DAC. Considering how terrible the sound quality on the previous Gamevices was, this is a huge upgrade.

I haven’t had a chance to use this Gamevice myself, and I have no idea how far along it is, or whether it actually will be released this year. The good news is, the folks at Gamevice are showing the controller off at GadgetShowLive right now, so there’s at least one prototype out there.

For many people – perhaps most – the iPad Pro’s 12.9-inch screen is large enough that you can stand your iPad up on a table and enjoy games with a standard Bluetooth MFi controller. Still, there are plenty of gamers out there – myself included – who would still rather hold the iPad in our laps while we play. It’s great that Gamevice has a controller for us, and personally, I’m very excited to get my hands on this controller later this year. Assuming it doesn’t suffer a massive delay.

The iPad Gamevice is (FINALLY) Coming This Month!

It’s over a year late, and months behind its brothers, but at long last it’s coming: the Gamevice for the non-mini iPad should be released this month!

The Gamevice for the regular iPad

If you’re a regular reader of my site, you know I’m a huge fan of the iPad Mini Gamevice. It’s the best MFi controller you can get, in almost every aspect. It’s only downside is that it works only with the iPad Mini – one of the weakest devices Apple sells, and a device poorly suited for gaming.

This new Gamevice model takes the same design from the iPad Mini model, but stretches it out to work with the full-size iPad Air and new 9.7-inch iPad Pro. I got a chance to use a prototype a little over a year ago, and it worked great then – presumably it’ll work even better after an extra year of development.

Many people have been waiting a long time for this product – I know I have – and I’m glad the wait is nearly over. The Gamevice is scheduled for release this month, presumably as a timed exclusive at the Apple Store; I’ll be keeping a look out for it, and I’ll post an article when it’s available.

Microsoft’s Sexist and Stupid GDC Party

Microsoft, apparently forgetting that it’s 2016 and not 1996, thought it was appropriate to have “erotic schoolgirl dancers” at their GDC party.

I thought we were past this crap. The whole “booth babe” concept has always been offensive, pandering, and sexist. It took a while, but the world finally seemed to wake up to that fact within the past decade. Where was Microsoft?

I cannot imagine the reaction if Apple did something like this.


The guy who should probably be fired for allowing this to happen issued a half-hearted apology:

Phil Spencer says:

At Xbox-hosted events at GDC this past week, we represented Xbox and Microsoft in a way that was not consistent or aligned to our values. It was unequivocally wrong and will not be tolerated. I know we disappointed many people and I’m personally committed to holding ourselves to higher standards. We must ensure that diversity and inclusion are central to our everyday business and core values. We will do better in the future.

GDC 2016: My Impressions

Picture of a huge crowd at GDC
GDC draws a huge crowd of developers and journalists

The second day of GDC is upon us. Tuesday; the calm before the storm, since the main expo floor opens on Wednesday.

I’ve walked the halls of the conference, listened to 5-10 talks and presentations, and checked out all the currently-available booths. Obviously much of the conference is still locked behind closed doors until Wednesday, but a few things stick out clearly from the preliminary exhibits:

VR is the Hot New Thing

Right from the start, one thing is abundantly clear here at GDC: VR is everywhere. Mobile VR, desktop VR, console VR, AR, cardboard-style VR – literally every form of VR you could imagine is on display at practically every booth.

The Whirlwind VR headset
This VR headset blows air in your face while you play

Interestingly, the approach each parties are taking to VR and AR are wildly different from one another. We have $10 cardboard VR devices that hold your phone up to your eyes, and right next to that, we have thousand-dollar high-end rigs designed to work with PCs. There’s some gimmicky stuff – one VR headset has a fan that blows air on your face while you play – but the vast majority of VR systems are gunning for mainstream popularity.

A player in a racing chair
Not quite VR, but a similar idea

Throughout the conference, I’ll be doing my best to find as much mobile-gaming-focused content as possible. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find some controller-based news. But one thing is becoming increasingly clear: I’m probably not going to find much hardcore mobile-gaming-related news that doesn’t incorporate VR in one form or another.

Apple is Everywhere and Nowhere.

Apple has never had an official presence at GDC, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t here. In my cursory glances at people’s GDC badges, I’ve seen a lot of people with Apple on their badges.

I’m sure some of these folks are gamers who just so happen to work at Apple; Apple employees are people too, after all. But when there’s smoke, there’s fire. The sheer number of Apple badges I’ve seen suggests Apple might have sent people to at least visit the conference.

A talk on copycats and clones - I hope Apple was watching

This many Apple employees have to be doing something here. Maybe just taking in the sights. Maybe just keeping an eye on the latest mobile games.

Whatever they’re doing, I’m happy to see Apple with some sort of presence here. Apple has a lot of blind spots when it comes to gaming. Listening to, meeting with, and talking to some of the smartest people in the games industry can only help Apple do a better job. If enough developers gripe about how terrible the App Store is for making a sustainable living designing games, maybe it’ll get through someday.

Mobile is Missing

Chillingo has a booth! But no games

The only mobile devices of any form I’ve found are a few Intel tablets and smartphones, and that has more to do with Intel’s desire to push for X86 smartphones and tablets than it does for an actual desire to talk about mobile gaming.

There are a few possibilities here. There’s a longstanding stigma from so-called “real gamers” against mobile gaming, and perhaps this discourages indie developers from showing off the mobile versions of their games. There’s also the idea that mobile is no longer the hot new thing – that’s VR – so it isn’t worth showing off.

The one smartphone: an Intel VR demo

There are multiple panels and conference talks about various aspects of mobile gaming, but the lines for these talks are far lower than those for VR gaming. From my perspective, this is insane. Mobile is the biggest game platform in the history of gaming, and ignoring it in favor of a technology that is at least a year out seems shortsighted.

The Train Jam tasked players with building a PC game during a train ride

The Future

The good news is, the actual GDC expo hasn’t started yet. That comes Wednesday. Monday and Tuesday are made up of lectures, discussion panels, and lobby exhibits.

The actual expo will have more presentations from the big name companies. Sony, Microsoft – you know the big guys. It’s possible that something more mobile-focused will be shown off in the exhibit hall. I’ll continue to keep my eyes open.

This is my first GDC, and it seems like I picked an odd one to start with. There’s a feeling in the air that VR is the next gold rush. In the next few years, this prediction will either be proven true or false. We’re right on the precipice of this new media, so that’s all anyone is talking about.

GDC 2016 First Impressions: VR Everywhere

After two years running AfterPad, I managed to make the big leagues – GDC – Game Developer Conference ! I’m here as media, ready to cover all the mobile gaming news I can find.

AfterPad is at GDC!

The GDC expo itself won’t start until Wednesday, but Monday brings a number of conferences and developer discussions.

Right from the start, one thing is abundantly clear here at GDC: VR is everywhere. Mobile VR, desktop VR, console VR, AR, cardboard-style VR – literally every form of VR you could imagine is on display at practically every booth.

Mobile VR is the hot new thing

Throughout the conference, I’ll be doing my best to find as much mobile-gaming-focused content as possible. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find some controller-based news. But one thing is becoming increasingly clear: I’m probably not going to find much hardcore mobile-gaming-related news that doesn’t incorporate VR in one form or another.

Apple Just Added A Bunch of New App Categories to the Apple TV Store

Great news, Apple TV shoppers: Apple just added a ton of new app categories for browsing apps!

Up until now, the Apple TV App Store lacked many of the app genres available to iOS shoppers. A few are still missing, but today’s update exposes a lot of new apps.

It seems these categories are rolling out slowly to the Apple TV, so you might not see them on your device yet. Luckily, thanks to the new AfterPad Apple TV Catalog, you can browse them all from the comfort of your iPhone!

‘AG Drive’ Updated for Universal Apple TV Support

The futuristic high-speed racing game AG Drive was recently updated to support the Apple TV.

If you somehow missed the boat on this one, AG Drive is a high-speed racer in the vein of Wipeout or F-Zero. What sets AG Drive out from the pack is its incredible graphics and buttery-smooth 60fps performance, thanks to its Metal-powered backend.

AG Drive has extremely detailed graphics at 60fps

AG Drive isn’t perfect. Despite being released over a year ago, it still feels unfinished. There are only a handful of courses and vehicles, and future racing tiers are still promised to be “coming soon”. But still, even based on what is here, AG Drive is easily among the best racing games on the App Store.

This new Apple TV version adds one important new feature, and it’s a big one: split-screen multiplayer. For the first time, you can pair multiple controllers and race against a friend. Impressively, there doesn’t appear to be any performance hit to running the game in split-screen – everything still looks incredible and runs at 60fps.

AG Drive for Apple TV brings split-screen multiplayer

AG Drive is a breath of fresh air after the terrible Apple TV port of Real Racing 3. Despite its flaws, I would say AG Drive is the best racing game you can get on the Apple TV right now. And if you’re looking for something to show off the performance of Apple’s new game console, this is a terrifically impressive demonstration, and well worth the $3.99 price.

On Vulkan, the Android Equivalent to Metal

Samsung’s latest Galaxy phones were announced a few days ago, and while there’s little there to tempt iPhone owners, it’s inclusion of the Vulkan API is interesting. Vulkan is an open-source quasi-competitor to Apple’s Metal API, allowing games to access far more GPU power than possible under the old OpenGL-ES API.

Android Central put together a good primer on what Vulkan is, how it’s superior to OpenGL, and how it compares to Metal. Even if you’re only interested in the iOS ecosystem, some of ways Vulkan works are similar to Metal, so potential performance improvements are comparable.

Ask anyone currently working with OpenGL in gaming about the need for something better, and you’ll get the same answer. Yes, now please.

[…]The goal of Vulkan is to make it easier to get better graphics performance by fully utilizing your multi-core processor. Multi-threading means Vulkan can do what OpenGL ES can’t, and the end result is an overall performance boost.

Regarding some of the challenges Vulkan faces compared with Metal, game developer Brianna Wu offers this:

It’s fair to call them similar, as both technologies are trying to solve the same problem. This OpenGL stack is untenable, it was written in an age with this single-core paradigm and it just doesn’t work anymore. Apple rolling out Metal makes a lot of sense for them. The difference for Apple is they can look at a list of drivers, a list of GPUs, a list of displays, and they have a lot of control over the hardware. They can bring someone in to program this stuff in Assembly, and it’s a tenable way forward. Vulkan is trying to solve that same problem in aggregate, but it’s a much wider thing that they’re trying to implement. It’s a much, much harder problem to solve especially when there isn’t a corporation the size of Apple leading that technology.

If you’re interested in the technologies used to power high-end games, this whole article is worth a read.

Deal Alert: PXN Speedy is 20% Off Right Now

Amazon just dropped the price of the PXN Speedy to $49, down 20% from the original. This puts it at the same price as the newer Horipad Ultimate and SteelSeries Nimbus controllers.

The PXN Speedy is an Xbox controller for your iPhone

If you’ve been looking for a first-rate Xbox-style MFi controller, the Speedy is as good as it gets. I wrote an extensive review of the Speedy on this site, but long story short, this is one of my favorite bluetooth MFi controllers. The build quality is outstanding, the d-pad is extremely responsive, and the included adjustable grip makes this one of the best choices for iPhone gamers.

Working on the iPad: One Year Later

Federico Viticci reflects on using the iPad as his primary computer; specifically following-up on last year’s article on switching to the iPad Air 2.

Four years ago, I struggled to move from a Mac to an iPad. Today, I only have to open my MacBook once a week. And I wish I didn’t have to.

[…] Being tied to a desktop computer isn’t an option for me. No matter what life has in store for the future, I have to be ready to work from anywhere. I have to consider the possibility that I won’t always be okay, working from the comfort of my living room. That means having a computer that can follow me anywhere, with a screen big enough to type on, and a higher degree of portability than a MacBook. That means using an iPad. That means iOS.

The past 12 months have cemented this vision and raised new questions. But, more importantly, the iPad and iOS 9 have been essential to launching a project I’ve been working on for years.

At this point, I can’t imagine using a computer that isn’t an iPad anymore.

I’ve owned iPads from the very beginning, but usually as a tertiary device, at least when it came to getting real work done. Last year, with the arrival of the iPad Air 2 and iOS 8, I switched to using the iPad as my primary computer. It was shockingly easy. It stripped out layers of complexity and bad design that computer users have had to deal with for decades.

As a writer, the iPad Pro and iOS 9 further cemented iOS as the platform for the vast majority of things I need a computer for. The iPad has a wealth of amazing writing apps, and iPads don’t come bolted to terrible laptop keyboards, so I can use a mechanical keyboard much more pleasantly than I can with a laptop.

In fact, I’ve been working on designing and coding a massive new feature for AfterPad, and I’ve done it entirely on my iPad Pro. I’ll have more to share on that – what, how and why – shortly.