Brandon Boyer

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1.) Apple will be releasing a new model iPhone on June 19th

For all those iPhone gamers that were holding their breath through the first hour and fourty-five minutes of the conference (where Apple showed off its new, lower priced MacBooks and Snow Leopard upgrades), they got what they were waiting for: the iPhone 3GS (the ‘s’ stands for ‘speed’).

Apple touted the fact that the 3GS will load SimCity 2.4 times faster than the original iPhone (among other 2-3x improvements), will support OpenGL|ES, and will include new hardware like a 3 megapixel camera (with tap-to-focus capabilities, better low-light shots, etc) and 30fps VGA video recording (with integrated YouTube uploads), a digital compass, and voice activated commands.

The new model will launch in the U.S. on June 19th at a price of $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 32GB model, while the standard 3G drops today to $99.

What Apple didn’t stress was the idea that games that take advantage of the faster model might soon bring about an App Store split that sees new titles created ‘for 3GS only.’

2.) Apple will also launch the 3.0 firmware on June 17th

Even for all those that aren’t planning to upgrade their hardware, the new 3.0 software will be released two days ahead of the new models (with ‘100 new features’) and will bring previously touted new advances for games like push notification, auto peer-to-peer multiplayer searching over Bluetooth, and in-game upgrade purchases, with the same 30-70 Apple/developer price cut. Developers can also now embed geolocation/the Google Maps code into any application, which could lead to new and better geo-aware games. The upgrade will be free for iPhone users, and will cost $9.95 for iPod Touch owners.


3.) Games took a relative back-seat during this keynote

Compared to previous keynotes, which introduced the iPhone and its competitive strengths via game demonstrations (think Monkey Ball and Spore), the game demos this time ’round were on the light side.

Apart from mentioning Dizzy Bee developer Nathan Hunley in a lineup of developer profiles, and bringing Gameloft on stage to demo their racer Asphalt 5 (with Bluetooth multiplayer), the biggest star of the game show was ngmoco, who took the spotlight to show off their just released (App Store link) spherical tower defense game Star Defense (previously featured several times, and more on that later).

In particular, ngmoco showed the upcoming in-game expansion store coming soon to the game, where users can purchase additional maps (as above, via gdgt’s liveblog of the event).


4.) Here’s what Apple didn’t mention: improvements to the App Store experience

Talk to any App Store developer and what you won’t hear is any complaints about the current iPhone’s hardware. The mounting problem and pressure for indie devs isn’t one of performance, but of exposure.

Apple was very happy to note that there are 50,000 apps on the store, miles ahead of the competition (photo again via gdgt’s liveblog), an install base of 40 million, and a billion apps sold. Developers are just as unhappy to note that, as one recently put it to me, the App Store experience is like “the world’s biggest Wal-mart with one single aisle.”

Until Apple addresses UI concerns — the ability to sort by rating? Further granularity in its sub-sections? The rumored ‘Premium App’ split? More transparency on who becomes ‘Featured’ and why? — all the speed in the world isn’t going to increase a developer’s chance to stay afloat in a sea of garbage.

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