Hidden feature turns iPhone into TV gaming device

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
With a little work and the help of an undocumented feature in Apple's iPhone Software Developers Kit, one iPhone developer was able to turn its game into a version suited for playback on big-screen TVs.



After discovering the hidden MPTVOutWindow class in the iPhone SDK last month, ArsTechnica's Erica Sadun got in touch with Freeverse, makers of Moto Chaser, and encouraged them to experiment with the APIs. A few hours later, the TV version of the iPhone game was born (video below).



Though largely demonstrative, the game uses the iPhone's accelerometer for input and steering while routing the game's video through a video-out cable to the TV. Freeverse noted that the program ran best on the second-generation iPod touch, which includes a 532MHz processor compared to the iPhone and iPhone 3G's 412MHz chip.



Even so, Moto Chaser maxed out at around 20 frames per second, making it "nearly playable," according Freeverse, whose producer Bruce Morrison noted that the "norm for commercial games is 30fps, a point at which motion becomes as smooth and watchable as normal TV video." Sound quality, however, was said to be greatly improved when pumped through a respectable sound system.







"When Morrison approached senior programmer Mark Levin, he had basically one set of instructions. 'Make it work before lunch.'," Ars reported. "Freeverse had very little time to allocate to putting together the demo. In the end, the entire development effort took about three hours."



Obviously one could imagine the possibilities of faster iPhones paired wirelessly with Apple TV to serve as a video game controller. In the meantime, you can read more about Apple's plan to muscle advanced gaming graphics into iPhones.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 57
    This is a neat hack. However, I would rather see AppleTV apps that use the iPhone as the controller. No cord, better frame rate.



    Next up on my Holiday Wish list, Original NES games on the iPhone
  • Reply 2 of 57
    eaieai Posts: 417member
    What about making an AirTunes equivalent for video and audio combined over the air. It'd be a challenge I guess (latency) but really useful...
  • Reply 3 of 57
    jimzipjimzip Posts: 444member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nace33 View Post


    This is a neat hack. However, I would rather see AppleTV apps that use the iPhone as the controller. No cord, better frame rate.



    Next up on my Holiday Wish list, Original NES games on the iPhone



    Ha! Was going to say the same thing. Too bad for WiFi lag though. Maybe it's just me, but WiFi has never been overly snappy on my iPhone. Might make for a frustrating gaming experience...



    Jimzip
  • Reply 4 of 57
    Yah, too bad the AppleTV doesn't have bluetooth.
  • Reply 5 of 57
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,152member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nace33 View Post


    Yah, too bad the AppleTV doesn't have bluetooth.



    They can build wireless controllers with an adapter using the USB port on AppleTV.
  • Reply 6 of 57
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,152member
    I remember a while back when I said that this is possible some here started laughing saying that this is not possible because you cannot output the iPhone graphics to larger screen!! well guess what?! it is possible.
  • Reply 7 of 57
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    Quote:

    With a little work and the help of an undocumented feature in Apple's iPhone Software Developers Kit, one iPhone developer was able to turn its game into a version suited for playback on big-screen TVs.



    After discovering the hidden MPTVOutWindow class in the iPhone SDK last month, ArsTechnica's Erica Sadun got in touch with Freeverse, makers of Moto Chaser, and encouraged them to experiment with the APIs. A few hours later, the TV version of the iPhone game was born (video below).



    "In other news, Apple is readying updates to the iPhone/touch firmware to remove "unnecessary" code."
  • Reply 8 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post


    They can build wireless controllers with an adapter using the USB port on AppleTV.



    So you want the AppleTV to not only have an adapter to add on to the back, you want new wireless controllers? Come on, it would be cool if the iPhone/iPod Touch could work as a controller with the existing AppleTV, as is. But having to buy controllers and add-ons to make this all work just is going to far in the other direction.
  • Reply 9 of 57
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,152member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nace33 View Post


    So you want the AppleTV to not only have an adapter to add on to the back, you want new wireless controllers? Come on, it would be cool if the iPhone/iPod Touch could work as a controller with the existing AppleTV, as is. But having to buy controllers and add-ons to make this all work just is going to far in the other direction.



    Not everyone have an iPhone or iPod Touch you know! and I really don't want to give my son my iPhone so he can play games!! Beside, paying $200 for a game controller is kind of crazy!!



    The adapter and controllers can be pair using bluetooth. I've seen very tiny bluetooth adapter. Use your imagination.



    I really hope Apple can turn AppleTV into a game console (even if the games are not that graphic intensive). iPhone type games are fun to play even on larger screen. I don't know how many games are available on the iPhone but I am sure if Apple create an App store for AppleTV all developer will port their games to it.
  • Reply 10 of 57
    why just WHY can't the guy punch the AI rider in that damn stupid video?



    3 hours to get it working on a TV = A plus.



    not knowing how to "win" = a55hat bonus.
  • Reply 11 of 57
    lafelafe Posts: 252member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "When Morrison approached senior programmer Mark Levin, he had basically one set of instructions. 'Make it work before lunch.'," Ars reported.



    I think this proves Morrison went to the same management training program

    as my boss. I've heard that same simple set of instructions many times,

    regardless of the complexity or enormity of the task!
  • Reply 12 of 57
    pmjoepmjoe Posts: 565member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Obviously one could imagine the possibilities of faster iPhones paired wirelessly with Apple TV to serve as a video game controller.



    If one knew how software works, one would know that such an idea is obviously unrelated.
  • Reply 13 of 57
    pmjoepmjoe Posts: 565member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nace33 View Post


    I would rather see AppleTV apps that use the iPhone as the controller.



    Bah, while I don't mind using my iPhone as a remote control occasionally, I'd balk at the idea of using a $200-$300 phone in the place of a likely more appropriate, and cheaper, game controller.
  • Reply 14 of 57
    ivladivlad Posts: 739member
    This is gonna be a part of Apple TV. This can be awesome for Apple TV. Maybe Apple will finally get serious about it.



    Remember that USB connection in the back, I bet there's gonna be some sort of an adapter that lets you play control everything with WIFI
  • Reply 15 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post


    Not everyone have an iPhone or iPod Touch you know! and I really don't want to give my son my iPhone so he can play games!! Beside, paying $200 for a game controller is kind of crazy!!



    The adapter and controllers can be pair using bluetooth. I've seen very tiny bluetooth adapter. Use your imagination.



    I really hope Apple can turn AppleTV into a game console (even if the games are not that graphic intensive). iPhone type games are fun to play even on larger screen. I don't know how many games are available on the iPhone but I am sure if Apple create an App store for AppleTV all developer will port their games to it.



    You don't want to give the iPhone to your son so he can play games but you want Apple to allow third party apps on the AppleTV, create a bluetooth adapter that connects to the USB port and on top of that, create bluetooth controls so (and I am taking a little liberty here) your son can play games on the AppleTV?



    Like I said above, this would be the wrong direction.
  • Reply 16 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pmjoe View Post


    Bah, while I don't mind using my iPhone as a remote control occasionally, I'd balk at the idea of using a $200-$300 phone in the place of a likely more appropriate, and cheaper, game controller.



    I understand the desire to have a more traditional gaming experience (which is why the wii gets old), however, I can't help but imagine what developers could come up with, gamewise, using all the sensors in the iPhone as well as the screen. Imagine playing madden and on a hot route you draw the route on your phone prior to the snap. Possibilities are endless.



    I think it would be anti-Apple to re-produce what other console makes already do, some of them quite well in fact.
  • Reply 17 of 57
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,152member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nace33 View Post


    You don't want to give the iPhone to your son so he can play games but you want Apple to allow third party apps on the AppleTV, create a bluetooth adapter that connects to the USB port and on top of that, create bluetooth controls so (and I am taking a little liberty here) your son can play games on the AppleTV?



    Like I said above, this would be the wrong direction.



    Why? because Apple only make devices for adults? I would play too you know!! and maybe my friends



    I am interesting to know why it is wrong and turning your $200 or $300 iPhone into the most expensive game controller is right?!



    I mean really why it is wrong?
  • Reply 18 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post


    Why? because Apple only make devices for adults? I would play too you know!! and maybe my friends



    I am interesting to know why it is wrong and turning your $200 or $300 iPhone into the most expensive game controller is right?!



    I mean really why it is wrong?



    I think you just made my point. I spent $300 on this iPhone and I want it to not only be my phone and portable computer, I want it to be implemented in a versatile fashion throughout Apple's product line. I guess I like to see my dollar go as far as it can. I want my phone to turn off my lights, turn on my TV, shut my garage door from work and cook me dinner (okay that last one might be a stretch).



    I think it is backwards thinking to duct tape a bunch of OEM parts to an AppleTV and turn it into a console.
  • Reply 19 of 57
    pmjoepmjoe Posts: 565member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nace33 View Post


    I understand the desire to have a more traditional gaming experience (which is why the wii gets old), however, I can't help but imagine what developers could come up with, gamewise, using all the sensors in the iPhone as well as the screen. Imagine playing madden and on a hot route you draw the route on your phone prior to the snap. Possibilities are endless.



    I think it would be anti-Apple to re-produce what other console makes already do, some of them quite well in fact.



    I believe the PS3 controller has motion sensing and is Bluetooth. Add Bluetooth to the Apple TV, through a USB Bluetooth dongle probably. Add an API to the Apple TV for these kinds of controllers (if they don't exist from Apple already). Write a game controller app on the iPhone side to follow the PS3 controller Bluetooth protocol (which is probably based on some existing Bluetooth HID protocol).



    Then you can use your iPhone with any system that'll handle a Bluetooth game controller ... if you really want to.
  • Reply 20 of 57
    pmjoepmjoe Posts: 565member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nace33 View Post


    I guess I like to see my dollar go as far as it can. I want my phone to turn off my lights, turn on my TV, shut my garage door from work and cook me dinner (okay that last one might be a stretch).



    I think it is backwards thinking to duct tape a bunch of OEM parts to an AppleTV and turn it into a console.



    Unless you already have a home control system that is tied into a computer that your iPhone can interface with, any of the above is going to require some kind of duct tape and OEM parts. The iPhone doesn't do infrared to control your TV, and its cellular and WiFi radios are not likely programmable to the frequencies needed for your garage door or lights control system (like X10). I don't even think there are any inexpensive Bluetooth bridge-type devices that would do some of this ... though there ought to be.
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