It’s always been a sore point for iPod Touch owners but, believe it or not, their App Store differs ever-so-slightly from the one seen on the iPhone. There’s a chance that even the most download-happy of users might not have spotted the difference over the last year, but there are some titles that just aren’t available to Touch owners–namely those that need speakers rather than output on headphones, or use the iPhone’s mobile capabilities and connections.
It’s an understandable result of the nuances in the two types of hardware and, chances are, most Touch owners barely notice the limitations of their format.
That said, it would appear that a large proportion of iPhone owners could eventually suffer a similar fate, with news hitting the web that 3GS-only games are set to hit the App Store over the following months.
French outfit Mad Monkey Studio, currently known for a handful of console games, has announced that it plans to develop iPhone 3GS exclusive titles designed specifically for the iPhone 3GS. In a press statement put out on Friday, the developer said that it had been tempted to work exclusively on the 3GS because it’s ‘up to four times faster than iPhone 3G’ and ‘supports advanced shaders.’
As a result, Mad Monkey Studio says it has begun work on an unannounced title that will make use of the 3GS’ accelerated capabilities, with a ‘cutting edge 3D look never seen on the iPhone.’ It’s a feather in the 3GS’ cap, but one that sets a worrying precedent for anyone not looking to upgrade.
Mad Monkey Studio isn’t the first to talk up the 3GS, with Real Racing developer Firemint one of a bevy of studios to heap praise on the new variant. Firemint has revealed that it has a version of its top-selling title that displays six times as many cars on-screen at once as the standard version. But while the development community might be enthused by this powerful new piece of hardware, it’s unlikely that those who picked up an iPhone 3G shortly before the 3GS hit the stores will share their rapture.
3GS-only titles have the potential to muddy the iPhone’s waters. The device’s marketing campaign is focused almost solely on the simplicity of finding, paying for and installing apps and games that serve all manner of purposes. The mainstream appeal of the iPhone means that the nature of 3GS-exclusive apps will be lost on much of its consumer base. Customers will flood onto the App Store to download the latest game, only to find out it doesn’t appear on the list because it isn’t designed for their handset.
And 3GS owners may not be any safer in the long run. Further hardware revisions as the years tick by could lead to an App Store segmented almost yearly. Of course, versions of the same game could be tailored to meet each handset’s individual capabilities–if developers decide to spend the resources to do so–but apps exclusive to the 3GS could introduce the serious problem of fragmentation to the most popular mobile platform around.