According to a , the next major version of iOS for the iPhone and iPad will feature many new features, such as universal dark mode, new gestures, visual changes for the volume popup and more. Dark mode should work more or less like dark mode on macOS Mojave. You’ll be able to turn on a system-wide option in Settings. Apps that support it will automatically switch to dark mode the next time you launch them. Let’s hope that third-party developers will support that feature. Otherwise, it would be a bit useless if Facebook, Instagram, Gmail or Amazon still feature blindingly white backgrounds. The other big change is that you’ll be able to open multiple windows of the same app on the iPad. You can already open two Safari tabs side by side, but it sounds like plans to expand that feature beyond Safari with a card metaphor. Each window will be represented as a card that you can move, stack or dismiss. Other iOS 13 features sound like minor improvements that should make iOS less frustrating. And it starts with new gestures. Instead of shaking your device to undo an action, users will be able to swipe with three fingers on the virtual keyboard to undo and redo a text insertion. Similarly, Apple could be working on a new way to select multiple items in a table view or grid view. You could just drag a rectangle around multiple items to select them. Once again, Apple is reusing a classic macOS feature on iOS. Some apps will receive updates, such as Mail and Reminders. The default email client will sort your emails in multiple categories (marketing, travel, etc.) just like in Gmail. Finally, that annoying volume popup could be on the way out. Apple could replace that popup with a more subtle volume indicator. Overall, the most exciting change is probably the ability to launch multiple windows of the same app. It’ll be interesting to see how Apple plans to implement that feature and what you’ll be able to do with that. Moving away from the traditional “one app = one document” metaphor could open up a lot of different workflows.
Microsoft today a new initiative that combines under a single umbrella all of the company’s gaming-related products for developers like Xbox Live, Azure PlayFab, Direct X, Mixer, Virtual Studio, Simplygon and Azure. That umbrella, , is meant to give game developers, no matter whether they are at a AAA studio or working solo, all the tools they need to develop and then operate their games across devices and platforms. “Game Stack brings together our game development platforms, tools and services like Direct X and Visual Studio, Azure and Playfab into a robust ecosystem that any game developer can use,” said Kareem Choudhry, the corporate vice president for the Microsoft Gaming Cloud. “We view this as a journey that we are just beginning.” It’s worth noting that developers can pick and choose which of the services they want to use. While Azure is part of Game Stack, for example, the overall stack is cloud and device agnostic. Undoubtedly, though, Microsoft hopes that developers will adopt Azure as their preferred cloud. These days, after all, most games feature some online component, even if they aren’t multiplayer games, and developers need a place to store player credentials, telemetry data and other info. One of the core components of Game Stack is , a backend service for building cloud-connected games, which now falls under the Azure family. Microsoft the service early last year and it’s worth noting that it supports all major gaming platforms, ranging from the Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch to iOS, Android, PC and web. With today’s announcement, Microsoft is launching a number of new PlayFab services, too. These include PlayFab Matchmaking, a matchmaking service the company adapted from Xbox Live matchmaking, but that’s now available to all developers and on all devices. This service is now in public preview. In private preview are PlayFab Party, a voice and chat service (also modeled after Xbox Party Chat), PlayFab Game insights for real-time game telemetry, PlayFab Pub Sub for pushing content updates, notifications and more to the game client, and PlayFab User Generated Content for allowing players to safely share content with each other. So while Game Stack may feel more like a branding exercise, it’s clear that PlayFab is where Microsoft is really putting its money as it’s competing with and , both of which have recently put a lot of emphasis on game developers, too. In addition to these announcements, Microsoft also today said that it is bringing an SDK for Xbox Live to iOS and Android devices so developers can integrate that service’s identity and community services into their games on those platforms, too.
Microsoft Photo In a potentially seismic move for the video game industry, Microsoft is preparing to extend Xbox Live compatibility to several additional platforms, including Android and iOS mobile devices and the Nintendo Switch, according to a session description for next month’s 2019 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The session was reported by , and , but it had touted plans to show off a new software development kit “to enable game developers to connect players between iOS, Android, and Switch in addition to Xbox and any game in the Microsoft Store on Windows PCs.” Xbox Live users will be able to “take their gaming achievement history, their friends list, their clubs, and more with them to almost every screen,” the description said. This would extend Xbox Live’s reach from the 400 million Xbox and Windows 10 gaming devices, to a couple of billion devices worldwide. Microsoft declined to confirm or comment on the plans in response to GeekWire’s inquiry. However, such a move would fit with the tech giant’s strategy under CEO Satya Nadella. Microsoft has increasingly been seeking to make its apps and services work across a variety of platforms, including those that the company has traditionally considered rivals. The SDK will be discussed at GDC 2019 as part of a session hosted by Team Xbox’s Jeffrey Shi and Ramsey Khadder, “.” The idea as proposed is to let the Xbox Live community take their groups, achievements, friends lists, games progress, and other means of engagement with them to non-Microsoft platforms, most notably the Switch, in the same way that Minecraft players can currently bring their data with them via Live if they change over to another system. There are a few other publishers in the games industry that attach their own independent networks to their games, most notably Ubisoft’s and Electronic Arts’s . When you install a new Assassin’s Creed or Madden game, you also run into requests to sign up for the related services. There’s also a larger movement in games right now towards “crossplay,” where certain cross-platform titles will allow you to go head-to-head against players on different services or consoles, which used to be anywhere from rare to impossible. Rocket League, Fortnite, Paladins, and SMITE, just to name a few games, all either have crossplay as of this writing, or intend to roll out the functionality soon. Last summer, Microsoft and Nintendo made big news by allowing Xbox and Switch owners to play together in Minecraft. Hey , since we can play together in now, did you want to build something? — Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) What’s different here is that Microsoft is extending the Xbox Live service, one of the pillars of its video game business, to platforms that are owned by what are ostensibly its direct competitors. Imagine an announcement by Netflix that it has reached a deal where you could watch several of its exclusive shows on Hulu, and you get an idea for how unusual this move could be. It does make sense, however, when viewed in conjunction with other initiatives like . Microsoft is still happy to sell you an Xbox if you want one, but this is consistent with its stated desire to focus on the services it provides, rather than the products it sells. It also opens up the possibility of Microsoft’s trademark first-party franchises being available for play on Android, iOS, or Nintendo devices, albeit with potential required engagement with Xbox Live. You could probably get a pretty good game of multiplayer Halo 5 or Sea of Thieves going on a Switch. Part of the session’s description also played up the appeal of the decision to independent developers, who ostensibly could “save time & expand their customer base” by offloading their social, communications, and multiplayer interactions onto Microsoft’s Xbox Live network. Instead of coding up your own account structure and online presence, the argument goes, why not simply plug into the preexisting, millions-strong Xbox Live user base? Microsoft has been criticized for its lack of platform exclusives, which tend to be the bread and butter of any video game console, but if its game plan is to use its high-engagement online service as a method of colonizing competitors’ marketplaces with its service portfolio, it’s a truly audacious move. It means that the value of the Xbox to Microsoft doesn’t necessarily involve a customer owning an actual Xbox. It also positions Microsoft as a social-network client for indies looking to build ready-made communities around their games, and gives Xbox Live a foothold on a variety of devices as the mobile gaming market continues to heat up.