Mobile World Congress has been and gone, and if you were there you might even have recovered by now. The show is great, but it’s exhausting too, with its vast floor space showing just how big the mobile communications and entertainment industry has become.
Businesses come together at shows like this to showcase their wares, so the show provides a perfect snapshot of what’s hot. It also gives us a glimpse of the future, with new product announcements and beta products on show throughout the week. For Android developers, the show is an opportunity to get ahead of the market.
Intel used Mobile World Congress as a venue to announce a new dual-core processor platform (code named 'Clover Trail+') for smartphones and Android tablets. It will be shipping in the first half of this year, and will enable global LTE connectivity. I can see that this could create lots of exciting opportunities for games developers. When higher bandwidth mobile connectivity is widely adopted on devices, it will enable new kinds of gameplay, including more creative linking of location data with streaming game data, irrespective of the presence of Wi-Fi.
To a lesser degree, 3G could already offer that, but this isn’t often exploited, perhaps because people are wary of using up their paid minutes and perhaps because developers see it as restricting the market to a minority that wants to use 3G for gaming. The higher bandwidth of LTE will enable much richer experiences and faster data transfer, and the better gameplay experience might be enough to convince players it’s worth investing some of their LTE subscription in.
There will be three processors available on the Clover Trail+ platform: the Intel Atom Processors Z2580, Z2560 and Z2520, which have speeds of 2.0GHz, 1.6GHz and 1.2GHz respectively. As you might expect, the processors support full HD video and also have an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator engine with a graphics core that goes up to 533MHz in boost mode, enabling rich 3D visuals, lifelike gaming and full 1080p hardware-accelerated video encode and decode at 30fps.
The platform will enable larger-screen Android tablets, with support for the Widescreen Ultra Extended Graphics Array resolution (1920x1200 pixels, in a 16:10 screen aspect ratio). The platform is compatible with Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) and Intel Wireless Display technology, and already has support from ASUS, Lenovo, and ZTE, who will be incorporating it in their phones and tablets.
At Mobile World Congress, Intel also announced its first quad-core Atom processor (codenamed 'Bay Trail'), which doubles the computing performance on tablets, and will be available for Christmas 2013 for both Windows and Android. Intel is working with Compal, ECS, Pegatron, Quanta, and Wistron to bring Bay Trail tablets to market. The previous processor, the Intel Atom processor Z2760, is already used in tablets from Acer, ASUS, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, LG Electronics and Samsung.
These developments represent some exciting opportunities for game developers. Many of the most successful tablet games have been casual games or puzzle titles, widescreen versions of the kind of games that found favour on smartphones in part because of the limited screen size and play time. As tablets become more powerful and take on far superior graphics capabilities, they can enable more immersive gameplay experiences, and the games can start to draw inspiration from console titles as well as phone titles.
The announcements at Mobile World Congress show that Intel is continuing to invest in the mobile market, and is winning support from major OEMs and manufacturers. Most existing Android apps run on Intel Architecture without modification, but some apps will need some minor changes to ensure compatibility, and it’s a good idea to test all your apps so you know whether they run or not. Consult the Intel Developer Zone for help with creating Android apps for Intel Architecture.
• This blog post is written by Softtalkblog, and is sponsored by the Intel Developer Zone, which helps you to develop, market and sell software and apps for prominent platforms and emerging technologies powered by Intel Architecture.