The last decade has seen unprecedented growth and sophistication in the evolution of cell phones. Clamshell “flip” phones and pocket-sized bricks have given way to sleek devices smaller than a paperback book with computational power rivaling some home computers. Growing alongside smartphones has been the rise of tablets, building around a simple form factor which can double in a pinch as a mobile computer for those who don’t want to get a dedicated laptop. And as with computers, gaming has been one of the major drivers of innovation in the mobile field. With everything that’s come so far, what more can people look forward to when trying to enjoy their mobile device?
Engines of Fun
Several of the most cutting-edge smartphones and tablets on the market today are carrying the best mobile processors. Qualcomm Snapdragon shares feature similar to their larger desktop cousins, all on a single chip. The very latest of the 800 series is the 835, using a 10nm process to pack in a 64-bit 8-core CPU, a GPU capable of supporting major gaming APIs such as DirectX 12 and Vulkan while pumping out 4K video at 60fps, and running all of the components for wireless communications through Wi-Fi, LTE cellular communication and Bluetooth. The common term, “system on a chip,” seems strangely inadequate to describe the power that’s available. From a pure hardware standpoint, it’s got the means to handle games a little more complicated than the latest “match 3” clone, though it may not be causing much concern for those who have a dedicated gaming rig.
A Handy Interface
Mobile devices have an advantage over dedicated game consoles in the respect that they are mobile. They can go into environments which other devices cannot, and have all the functionality of a console, a controller and other peripherals built into a single form factor. Moreover, they have a degree of versatility inherent in their form. Consider that Samsung and Google have both created VR platforms where a smartphone becomes the primary display unit by popping it into a simple headset, rather than requiring consumers to buy large amounts of gear and permanently install sensors in the wall or ceiling to achieve room scale VR. It’s a degree of economy and technical agility that has the potential allow for impromptu game sessions virtually anywhere in the world, any time of day.
Other Worlds Than These
The only realistic limitation of what games will be coming out next for mobile devices is the imagination of developers. Augmented reality (AR) games such as Pokemon Go will only grow more elaborate as players use smartphone cameras to literally see the world differently, potentially creating interactive scavenger hunts that could theoretically stretch across the globe as players from different countries work together. Savvy entrepreneurs could create VR “playgrounds” where players download a mobile app for their particular phone and move around a defined space safely as well as interacting with each other. Particularly daring innovators could even work on providing some haptic feedback using skeletonized gloves connected to the smartphone through Bluetooth.
Mobile devices have all the basic tools available to allow us to enter, engage and enjoy worlds never before imagined. Charge up your device and get ready.