First look: iOS 7 bursts the bubble that green felt was Game Center's only issue

First look: iOS 7 bursts the bubble that green felt was Game Center's only issue

Having installed iOS 7 during the early hours of the morning (and fiddled around with it incessantly since, admittedly in a sleep deprived state), one of the most notable elements is the redesigned Game Center.

Gone is the green felt – itself the butt of a joke during Apple's presser – and in comes a streamlined white look, interspersed with coloured bubbles, slowly bobbing around the screen and adding a dose of character to what could be a soulless approach.

But does it actually change anything?

Bubble bobble

Not especially.

Like most of iOS 7, Apple appears to be keen to dress its platform in new clothes before changing the way the UI actually operates, or flinging a whole host of new features at them.

The new Game Center

Considering the size of the platform's userbase and the fact the operating system has, essentially, been defined by the same rules since launch in 2007, there would be little to be gained from ripping up the rulebook overnight.

But Game Center is basically the same beast in iOS 7 as it was before, and while Apple was keen to point out that six of the top 10 apps on iOS utilise it, I'd argue few of them sing its praises when out of the public gaze.

Challenges remain largely the same, with a link through to the game in question

Little is likely to change as things stand. As before, Game Center is basically a resource for checking friend's profiles, monitoring their progress in play and responding to game challenges sent your way.

But, while the new bubble look is certainly more aesthetically pleasing, it doesn't bring anything new to the table.

Empty vessel

Which means that, as before, developers will feel obligated to support it, without it really offering anything new.

Does Apple really understand what Game Center is for, anyway?

In terms of features, one could argue it matches Microsoft's Xbox Live on mobile, but yet Live on Windows Phone feels like a genuine hub for the device, which both serves you games and celebrates them.

Xbox Live feels far more interactive, though it may be a trick of the UI

Game Center for iOS 7 simply swaps one unsuccessful skin for another. It's hard to imagine why, beyond responding to notifications, someone would be drawn to tap on the Game Center app, and perhaps this is as much as Apple can achieve within its self-defined limits.

Google's decision to take turn-based multiplayer cross-platform was impressive, but it was never likely to be a move replicated by Apple.

Which leaves Game Center where it was before – the recipient of a superficial makeover, but with its sterile nature still there for all to see.


With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.


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