iPhone OS 3.0 Brings Big Wins for Users, Game Devs

modmyi.com reports that Bluetooth is actually built into 2nd-gen iTouches, and the 3.0 software update will unlock the functionality for peer to peer awesomeness.

Just a friendly reminder, folks. The long-awaited iPhone OS 3.0 update is out tomorrow, and with it will come many features that have huge implications for iPhone gaming.

In particular, many of the upcoming games we saw at E3 and WWDC had big plans for in-app purchases, such as ngmoco’s unnamed first-person shooter. Some developers think that this will open up a whole new business model on the App Store, enabling free or 99 cent games to rake in a fortune in microtransactions.

Peer-to-peer connectivity, a wider range of accessories, and push notification are also very important updates. The first two could bring the iPhone even further into the territory of the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. The latter could facilitate persistent-world MMOs and real mobile multiplayer, among many other possibilities.

Gameloft chief Michel Guillemot has gone so far as to call OS 3.0 iPhone gaming’s ‘second revolution’. So, hold onto your hats, everyone. Majorly disruptive change could be about to break on the App Store.

Apple’s Big Event today, the iPhone Software 3.0 Preview is really a big deal for game players and game developers.

We’ll leave the talk about new user features to other outlets (OMG copy and paste’ā€¯finally!) and get right to what matters to us: Games. Game developers are going to be all over this new release, and we think we’re going to see some really fantastic stuff come out of it.

In-App Purchase

Perhaps the biggest single announcement is “In-App Purchase.” Developers will be able to make applications with entirely new business models. The idea is simple, but the ways this could impact Apps are complex, given that users will now be able to make purchases from inside an application. The examples given were for additional game levels, magazine subscriptions, or ebooks.

Noted iDevice developer ngmoco:) showed off two new games which featured micro-payments. In “Touch Pets” you’ll be able to spend real money to buy virtual things for Sparky. And in “LiveFire,” a first-person shooter, you’ll be able to buy bigger weapons. It will be VERY interesting to see how these new approaches fare in the cut-throat App Store marketplace.

Peer to Peer

The next most important development, to us, was the inclusion “Peer to Peer” networking in the new OS/SDK. This service will allow users to play games and exchange information on an ad hoc basis, without needing a WiFi network. It’s unclear whether this functionality will work on iDevices which lack Bluetooth (read: iPod Touch).

Accessories

This one is big, even though it’s not entirely clear what capabilities will be provided: Apps will be able to interact with external peripherals via the dock connector, or over Bluetooth. The examples given were FM transmitters, blood pressure readers, and a lengthy demo of an insulin monitor for diabetics.

We’re not diabetic, but it sure got our blood pumping to think this might extend to gaming controllers and other peripherals (we’d love a keyboard!).

Push API

They promised it to us months ago, and they’ve slipped their release date by over half a year, but the Push API is finally coming. Honest. For real. Or so they say. The best gaming case we’ve seen for this so far was shown by ngmoco:), with push notifications to help you scrounge up a game with friends. With this development, you won’t need to be IN a game in order to get invited to play with your buddies. That’s big.

Everything Else

This new release is a huge grab-bag of features for developers. Some of the features mentioned in passing: in app voice chat (said to be implemented in “LiveFire” from ngmoco:)), developer access to the iPod library, better streaming audio and video, etc etc…

The other big thing to keep in mind: This is just what Apple (and a handful of developers in the know) have thought of. In the coming months, the creative iDevice developers out there will think up some truly innovative uses of these new tools.

iPhone OS 3.0 will be available to developers today, and to the rest of us “this summer”. It will be free for iPhone users, and $9.95 to iPod Touch users.

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