Apple has rolled out iOS 8, meaning several games are currently updating for the new operating system. One of which is Gameloft's Asphalt 8: Airborne which has been rehashed to support the new iOS 8 feature Metal. So now the racing title now looks better than ever - if that's even possible.
What's new in Asphalt 8?
Racing game Asphalt 8: Airborne was first released in 2013, but as one of the first Metal-optimised games available, Pocket-lint immediately downloaded the updated app to give it a whirl.
Straight away, we noticed the spiffy enhanced graphics, plus a new Metal-exclusive season. It has a variety of opponents - three times as many as any other Asphalt game - and the update also includes five new cars, such as the Koenigsegg One: 1 and Maserati MC12. There's even a new San Diego Harbor area, complete with an aircraft carrier and helicopters. A bunch of screenshots are below, so you can see all the major changes for yourself, including the enhanced graphics.
When the game first loaded the Tokyo track on our iPhone 6 Plus, we were quite impressed by how vivid the raindrops and various weather effects looked. On some tracks, such as the Alps, the snowfall effect on the mountain tops and upon the camera looked quite impressive and detailed. The London track was clear from any bad weather, but the crisp skies appeared especially blue and realistic.
With so many graphics-heavy effects included, you'd expect Asphalt 8 to feel slow. That's not the case; performance hasn't suffered at all. The San Diego track was especially tricky, because you had to drive in weird places beyond the road, such as through shipping containers, but everything played smoothly and fast and, well, could have looked like it was being played on a new-generation gaming console in our living room. And that's all thanks to Metal.
What is Metal?
Apple announced Metal at WWDC 2014. It is a new feature (or API, really) in iOS 8 that allows developers to make console-grade games for your iPhone and iPad. Both existing A7 and future A8 devices will rely on Metal to deliver a better graphics than what’s was possible through OpenGL technology in iOS 7.
By coupling an advanced mobile chip with a new framework for developers, Apple is also able to push the performance envelope. If you own an iPhone 5S, iPad Air, iPad Mini with Retina display, or even one of the new iPhone 6s, you will notice a vast improvement to your gaming experience when running iOS 8.
One last thing: Apple didn't name Metal as a nod to heavy metal music. It's a programming expression ("close to the metal"). Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering at Apple, even described iOS 8 Metal as providing "near bare to the metal access to the power of A7."
For a more detailed look at what Metal means for Apple’s past and future devices, watch Apple’s quick introduction of Metal from WWDC 2014. The video includes game demos from developers who had access to the Metal framework prior to the debut/release of iOS 8.