Apple unveiled on Monday a new technology that will help mobile games run more smoothly on the company’s phones and tablets by lowering the graphical processing power they require. The Metal API allows games to perform better than they do with OpenGL, according to Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice-president of software engineering, who spoke on stage at the Worldwide Developers Conference. Metal will launch along with iOS 8 later this year, and is designed to work with the A7 chips found in the latests iPhones and iPads.
Apple’s Metal could transform the complexity limits of games in iOS 8, but if it wants to eventually compete with game consoles — and the company referred to “console-level” graphics during its WWDC presentation repeatedly — it still has an interface problem to solve. Apple’s gaming strategy — anemic enough in the past that some might view those three words used in the same sentence as oxymoronic — took an interesting turn at the company’s annual WWDC 2014 conference on Monday. Apple software engineer VP Craig Federighi surprised onlookers after steering lengthy presentations on OS X Yosemite (Apple’s latest version of OS X) and iOS 8 by revealing something the company calls “Metal,” which Federighi prefaced as “huge in the area of 3D graphics.” Metal, says Apple, is designed to supplant OpenGL, or the Open Graphics Library, as the mechanism in iOS whereby developers get their hooks into the hardware — in this case, Apple’s powerful A7 system-on-a-chip processor.