updated 03:45 pm EDT, Thu April 8, 2010
Game service to mimic Xbox Live
At today's iPhone 4.0 event in Cupertino, Apple simultaneously announced several related initiatives. Among these is Game Center, a unifying social network for handheld games. The service should in many ways mimic Microsoft's Xbox Live, supporting achievements, leaderboards and matchmaking, the latter with the ability to send invites to friends. It should launch sometime later this year.
Apple is also teasing iAd, a new advertising system for marketers and developers. iAd promotions are able to launch within an app when tapped, instead of forcing viewers to exit to Safari. The underlying technology is based on HTML5 and allows for elements like photos, videos, mapping functions and mini-games. Apple will both sell and host ad placements, diverting 60 percent of revenue to an app's developer. iPhone 4.0 should be required.
In a minor note the company has announced an iPhone and iPod version of iBooks, the reading app originally developed for the iPad. Again tied to iPhone 4.0, the updated app is undergoing only minor changes to accommodate a different platform. Among these is the ability to wirelessly sync page positions and bookmarks between devices.
iPhone 4.0 will be released sometime this summer.