I had reported about the undocumented TV-out feature in iPhone Firmware 2.2 SDK which allow third-party iPhone apps to send video out through the dock connector to an external screen like a television.
Freeverse, the developer of popular iPhone game, Moto Racer (now renamed as Moto Chaser) with help from well-known iPhone developer and blogger at Ars Technica, Erica Sadun has just created the TV version of Moto Chaser using this TV-out feature which is quite impressive.
Freeverse agreed to create the TV version of their popular iPhone game after Erica Sadun who was the first to reveal this undocumented feature in "MPTVOutWindow class" contacted and convinced them.
Freeverse’s development team took about three hours to create the TV version of Moto Chaser. Erica Sadun points out that most of the time was spent "dealing with Xcode provisioning issues, not technical demands from the porting".
One of the things their development team also observed was that the TV version of their game played best on the 2nd gen iPod Touch which is faster than the iPhones and the 1st gen iPod Touch. As the newer version of iPod Touch is built on a 532MHz CPU versus the original iPhone’s 412MHz, TV version of Moto Chaser could reach approximately 20 frames per second (fps) which makes the game nearly playable.
You can checkout the impressive video of the TV version of Moto Chaser in action below:
The bad news is that Freeverse Producer Bruce Morrison has clarified that they see the TV-enabled version of Moto Chaser just as a tech demo and will not be available on the App Store anytime soon for the following reasons:
- They only use approved Apple methods and approved frameworks in their programs.
- They don’t want their iPhone game to break by using undocumented features of iPhone’s SDK.
- Freeverse would not release any product that could not exceed 20 frames per second video output.
However, Morrison adds:
"Even as a demo, this is yet another feature that makes the iPhone stand out. It’s one more cool notch in [the iPhone's] belt. Using the iPhone as a controller opens up any number of new possibilities. When you use a wiimote as a controller, you can imagine it is a fishing reel or a katana but there’s nothing visual on the controller itself that really tells you what it’s being used as. With the iPhone, its visual screen offers a way to expand game play into your hands. Imagine using the iPhone with Gears of War. You could show your weapon inventory directly on the touch screen. For now it’s just a matter of waiting for the technology to catch up. There’s lots of potential for future development."
Erica Sadun speculates about the future of the TV out feature:
While Freeverse and, presumably, other companies work on enhancing iPhone TV out to reach reasonable framerate goals, there’s still plenty of possible arenas for games and utilities that do not rely on the high video rate demands of first person games. Puzzle games, photo utilities, and chatting software can all take advantage of iPhone output even on older units without placing undue demands on chip speed and video frame rates. Bruce Morrison suggested that a Quiz Show game would make a perfect match to the iPhone’s video out feature.
She also points out:
"the official future of iPhone video out rests in Apple’s hands. If this
is a feature you want to see grown and added to the iPhone SDK, you
need to contact them and add your voice. Apple can be responsive,
especially when approached politely. For the jailbreak community, no
delay is needed. The features are there and ready to be used, without
App Store hurdles to be passed. Of course, as with every iPhone update, the MPTVOutWindow may break with the next 2.3 firmware release but that’s a risk that the jailbreak community is used to."
It will be really great to see if Apple officially publishes the API’s in future iPhone SDK’s so developers can make use of it and release TV-enabled version of their iPhone apps.
You can check Ercia’s post over at Ars Technica for the details of how the TV version of Moto Chaser was developed along with the shortcuts that Freeverse developers had to take to get it running within the time constraints.
The iPhone’s capabilities continue to amaze me, how about you? Tell us in the comments.
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