Since being announced and previewed back in April, Game Center has been anticipated for the iPhone simply because of its universal capability. Up until now, games have been split between different social network that all provide the same basic experience, but still manage to be walled gardens. With the release of iOS 4.1 and Game Center, we can only hope that the days of segregated games on iOS are over. Does this mean that OpenFeint or Plus+ will die painful deaths? Not likely, simply because of the extra features Apple will never provide such as cross-platform compatibility.
When you download and install iOS 4.1 on your device, which can be done by simply hitting the “Update” button in iTunes on your iPhone page, you will see a new icon on your home screen called “Game Center.” The first time you open it, you’ll be taken to a registration page that asks you to create your Game Center account, including your username on the service. After that, you’re taken to the Game Center home where you can see your friends and games as normal. The problem? No games currently support the service (as of this writing), so it’s difficult to see if any of the additional features work. We anticipate this will change very soon.
Other features of iOS 4.1 include the ability to take HDR photos from the iPhone itself, natively, as well as bug fixes and FaceTime for iPod Touch devices. Those unfortunate iPhone 3G users who updated to iOS 4.0 will now have workable phones again, and so on.
Like we said earlier, you can download iOS 4.1 and take a look at these new features by downloading and installing the update from iTunes. (Sorry ugly icon haters, you’ll likely need iTunes 10 to update).