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Developers don't want innovation from Apple's new iPads, they want stability

Our Mavens react to the rush of new tablets
Developers don't want innovation from Apple's new iPads, they want stability

Last week saw Apple lift the lid on two new iPads iPad Air and a revised iPad mini just hours after Nokia unveiled its own tablet, the Lumia 2520, to the world.

Critics have already claimed that both the iPad Air and new iPad mini are simply thinner, more powerful versions of their predecessors, while Nokia's device appears to be a more consumer-friendly take on Microsoft's existing Surface range.

So, we asked the Mavens:

Is there any innovation left in this sector? Do tablets genuinely excite you from a games perspective any more, or is iteration the best we can expect?

John Ozimek, Dimoso

I think Apple's announcement was evolution not revolution; and it made a lot of sense in terms of re-aligning the iPad family alongside the iPhone 5s and iOS7.

In terms of whether that's exciting for gaming and gamers - perhaps only really in terms of the price point being lower and therefore a better competitor to Samsung and Google. Also, with the A7 chip there's even more horsepower to play with, which is always good for graphics and a lot of on-screen action.

I do think there is lots of room for innovation and hopefully we will see more from Apple and the rest next year.

For a while now I have been saying that haptics will be a big leap forward for touchscreen devices, and Apple acquired a company called Senseg early last year that has the technology to really do some clever stuff.

Of course, if you look at the handful of games currently dominating the app stores, I'm not sure that new hardware or software is really needed to create matching candy games.

Scott Foe, Big Head Mode
If tablets aren't exciting to you, you must be a zombie extra from the new season of The Walking Dead. The tablet is unique from the perspective that natural play sessions are longer; it is reasonable to expect players to play longer than 90 seconds.

Because mobile content is so easily ported over to tablet, 60 to 90 second play experiences will be the rule, but deeper, more immersive and engaging experiences will make more and more business sense as the tablets become a more dominant market reality.

Really? Do you want to be stuck making match-three puzzle games for the rest of days? If you want to get hardcore, you want to get excited about tablets!

Michael Schade, Fishlabs
How could we be not excited? Galaxy on Fire 2 HD was featured yet again.

Short to mid-session hardcore games are the perfect for the platform. It's for when you don't have a few hours to sink into a deep console or PC game experience but want to have console like experience.

Like when your better half takes over the TV, or takes 45 minutes in the bath before you go out...

Jani Kahrama, Secret Exit
As a developer, I'm quite content seeing the platform and the form factor remain stable while the performance goes up.

Mobile devices have already reached performance parity with desktop and console platforms in many game genres, and the gap with high-performance games (shooters, racing games, third-person action adventures) will become quite narrow during this new console generation.

I wouldn't mind a future where the only difference in playing experience on various devices is the size of the screen, the quality of sound, and the shape of the controls. In other words, no compromises would be necessary on the content side.

Keith Andrew,

See, this kind of view worries me. I always get the impression with developers that, for the sake of their own mental state if nothing else, they want things to remain the same.

It took developers years before they took to Wii, for instance. Why? Because it was different it was a risk. It meant moving away from established models. Those who did take the risk, however well, for many of them, it really, really paid off.

It's very easy for me to be pro-risk given that it's not my business on the line, but I personally think the last thing developers should be calling for is for things to stay the same.

Day in, day out, we on Biz see stories of the big boys running away with it, while the smaller indies fight for the scraps. There was a time, however, when those big boys were the small guys themselves, and the window of opportunity that opened for them was when iOS was still in its formative stages.

New platforms, new formats, new devices open up possibilities for new players to emerge, and that's what we need right now.

We need Apple, or Samsung, or Nokia, or anyone to serve up something radically different in the way the iPhone and original iPad were. Because, if we're just happy with things staying the same, then you can bet it'll be the same people who end up making all the money.

John Griffin, Game Sparks
I like the point Jani makes about needing/wanting some stability in the platform and form factor - it gives developers the chance to catch up, which makes a lot of sense to me as it seems we still have a way to go in terms of what we can achieve on the current generation of tablet devices.

I would like to see a lot more competition in the tablet sector going forward and so welcome new releases from vendors like Nokia.

Don't get me wrong … I am a massive Apple fan. However, its closed ecosystem is too restrictive for many indies.

Things are far more interesting on Android and the range of new cheaper devices (for example, the Avoca Tablets on sale in Carphone Warehouse) open up a lot of new opportunities for us all.

Pre-installation of content, new & more open stores … bring it on!

John Ozimek, Dimoso
John, that sounds suspiciously like a rallying call for more device fragmentation...

But you are right - devices like the Wikipad, which we are working with in the UK, take a standard Android device and add extras through the pre-installs and device design.

As long as we avoid the 'Android with extras' approach that happened quickly in the smartphone space - it's only really diminished through the dominance of Samsung - then I'm sure developers will be happy.

However, it's a very difficult market to launch a new device into. The main traction outside of Apple and Samsung seems to be at the very low end - such as the Hudl.

Dave Castelnuovo, Bolt Creative

There is still some room for innovation, but most of the near term innovation will happen on the software side.

Like John said, one hardware innovation is haptic touch feedback, but I imagine that is a long way off. It’s hard to think of a way to include that kind of technology without the iPad getting a lot thicker.

It might be cool if the surface of the iPad acted like a scanner where you could just lay a business card on the surface and it would recognise it through OCR and add it to your contacts. Using the camera is a little awkward for things like that including bar code reading, I could never get my phone to read a barcode in real world conditions.

NFC could still be something that could play around with as well. A second processor for dedicated image recognition would be great. Even at it’s best, image recognition is pretty spotty. Better support for a stylus would be great. capacitive styli really stink.

An upgrade to the motion processor and sensors would be really useful. And Airplay needs to get better.

It could probably use some kind of co-processor to help it work better without reducing frame rate so much. They could also use something that is a lot less laggy than sending the data over wifi.

Airplay is great for video but its a huge unrealized promise when it comes to gaming. I’m curious to see how well the Vita/PS4 remote play works in this regard.

Oscar Clark, Applifier

I'm definitely excited about tablets and if I'm honest these are both fine releases.

However, the iPad Mini is just the spec it should have been when it laucnhed in my opinion; although I'm still a little surprised they retained the 4:3 ratio.

It keeps a certain level of prestigue above the Nexus 7, although that is significantly cheaper and fairly similar in performance. The trouble is I think Android tablets have yet to capture the imagination of most users.

I will be getting an iPad Mini, mostly because my last Galaxy Nexus battery died leaving it a hunk of junk... quite disappointing.

The iPad Air isn't a bad update either; its faster, thinner lighter, but for me it has the classic problem in that I upgraded my iPad in the last generation and the iterative improvements aren't really compelling enough for me to upgrade this time.

Given for an avid Android and Windows 8 PC user; I find it curious that iPads stubbornly remains the most useful gaming device I own; I play more games on my iPad than my consoles.

The Lumia Tablet looks really nice, seems really well built; just like Nokia's phones... but I still can't get excited about it personally. The trouble is I haven't warmed to RT. As much as I love my Windows 8 PC. I know its crazy, but I think I'm waiting for Microsoft to live up to the promise of the same experience everywhere - not just a similar one.

I wish that we would see something to compete more effectively with the iPad to make our lives more interesting. However, I also agree that Jani make a good point that I often fail to recognise that stability combined with gentle evolutionary improvement in performance is a good thing for developers.

So its not a "Meh!" but its not a "Wow!"