Game Center changes coming to iOS 5

While most of the gaming world gets lost in an endless series of press conferences at E3 Expo in Los Angeles, we iOS faithful spent our day gobbling up every piece of information to spread during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. Now that their keynote is over, we were saddened to see that there was little impression on the games front. Still, that doesn’t mean the changes aren’t coming.

“In just 9 months, we have 50 million Game Center users. To put that into perspective, Xbox Live has been around for about eight years and has about 30 million users. Such self-satisfied statements are typical of a press event like this, but that’s a pretty impressive number nonetheless. With so many people on board, it’s no surprise that Game Center is where Apple is focusing on improving the game. player experience this time around.

To be included in iOS 5, the latest version of Game Center seeks to make things a bit more social. You will now be able to see the scores of your friends’ friends, as well as send and receive friend recommendations. You’ll also be able to buy games directly from Game Center, definitely a handy feature if you see all your friends playing something you’ve decided to play.

Game discovery will also play a key role in the latest version of Game Center, with a recommendations page suggesting games for you based on what’s currently featured, as well as what your friends are playing.

In their latest new feature, Game Center will introduce a feature for tracking asynchronous turn-based games. This new feature seems to be similar to how games like Words between friends or Carcassonne works, except it will let you check all your turn-based games at once to see when it’s your turn.

While the Game Center update is the big thing in iOS 5 for games, there are a few other tidbits in the new iOS update of note for gamers. In a newly overhauled App Store, users will be able to see all the apps they’ve purchased, even those not currently installed on your device. Likewise, if you buy a universal app on your iPhone and also want to download it on the iPad, it will now automatically appear in this list. This is all part of Apple’s big announcement from today’s show, their device syncing strategy known as iCloud.

Notifications have also changed. If you receive a mid-game text, or if any alert triggers, it will appear at the top of the screen rather than a shocking interruption that is front and center. Definitely a nice advantage when you’re in the middle of a particularly difficult puzzle or firefight.

So when will we get all these exciting new features? iOS 5, with its updated Game Center, will be released this fall for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad and iPad 2.