I Canceled My iPhone and Ordered a Pixel

Hey all!

You may remember my recent article, stating all the reasons why I’d had enough of Android, and Why I’m Switching To iPhone.

But since then, things have changed. Big time.

You may think, “but they just put out an article about how they’re switching, and now they’re switching back?!”

Well, yes.

“Why?????” you may ask?

Let’s Dive Into It

To begin, most of quandaries with Android were of the issue with the lack of hardware/software integration, leading every Android device to be slightly (or majorly) off from what the Android experience was intended to be. Even Motorola’s later “Moto” devices. In short, each device from a different manufacturer would work with Android, but it would never be Google’s vision, so Android would just never function just as intended, and the hardware would suffer from that, as well, leading to a need for more powerful hardware to offset the inefficiencies created by the lack of optimization.

If you read back to the article, I state, “Unless you buy a … Google Nexus phone (the reference model … for Android), you can be sure the OS you’re running on won’t be fully optimized for your device.”

So I did acknowledge that Google did somewhat accomplish hardware/software integration with the Nexus line of phones. The Nexus phones would always have great cameras and the fastest processors available at the time, and most importantly, run a vanilla version of Android, so you would know the OS was running it as intended.

However, the problem has always been that the Nexus phones (up until last year) have always been hard to get, and aimed at software developers rather than consumers. Additionally, since Google bargained with other manufacturers such as LG, HTC, and Motorola to create the phones, it was never 100% Google’s design, and had some of the other manufacturer’s ideas forced upon it. Also, I was never fond of the design, as I always thought Motorola’s phone offered some useful features and overall design that were just a step ahead the Nexus line.

But today that changes.

Fast forward to October 4, 2016. Google has a new event with a new focus, #madebygoogle.

Google holds an amazing event with great products, including the Pixel phone. But what’s even better than the content shown there? Google’s new focus on all-encompassing design, interactivity between products, and best of all (for phones), hardware-software integration!

While, as stated, Google is “not new to hardware,” it is definitely new to this game. And it’s going to kill it.

The Pixel phone is the first phone fully designed, from top to bottom, inside and out, by Google, and for Android. And for the first time, Google is making their own phone to compete directly with the iPhone. And it is marvelous.

Google is finally taking a stance with Android, and saying, “enough is enough”. Google’s new Pixel phone, like Apple’s iPhone, is the first phone completely designed and optimized for Android, and likewise, Google has optimized and improved Android specifically for the Pixel. Not only has it equipped the phone with a best-in-class camera (even topping out the iPhone 7), a headphone jack, and the speediest processor, but it has engineered all of Android to work specifically for its hardware, and vice-versa.

In regards to its optimization, it’s not just another phone running Android. Google has actually optimized every aspect of the phone to work best with its vision of Android. Besides incorporating the speediest processor yet available in an Android phone, the Snapdragon 821, it has also optimized the touch response of the phone, leading to much less latency between touching the screen and getting a response. Additionally, it has improved the overall speed of the phone and the camera, finally bringing it on par with feeling as good as an iPhone.

Aside from this, users also get the benefit of actually being able to upgrade the phone’s software as soon as an update is available, directly from Google. This has been a feature of previous Nexus phones for a while, but now it’s even better, because updates will download and install in the background, and automatically and quickly be applied the next time you reboot your phone. This is even better than Apple’s iPhone update experience, which will still leave you updating the traditional way, getting in the way of the tasks you’re doing, and taking a lot longer.

On specs, this phone also beats out the iPhone 7, which is nice to have. While the phone appears to lack stereo speakers, it does have a headphone jack built-in. And the camera is even better than the iPhone 7’s, something incredible to say. Did I mention it also comes with unlimited Google Photos storage at original resolution?! Additionally, the phone has a higher-res screen than the iPhone’s, so you can watch content at higher-resolutions. And that screen is better too. Unlike the iPhone’s more-colorful-than-before-but-still-not-so-colorful screen, the Pixel’s screen offers AMOLED, with many times the contrast and colors of the iPhone’s screen. The screen is great on its own, but highly necessary for the phone’s last great innovation: Daydream VR.

The last major thing this phone has going for it is Google’s new VR platform, Daydream VR. The Pixel phone will be the first Daydream Ready phone, the first phone to support the new platform created by Google. In short, Daydream VR is Google’s own VR platform for phones, like Samsung’s Gear VR, except better. Not only will the Daydream platform support Google’s own Pixel phone, but it will support many phones in the future from different manufacturers, allowing the cheapest and highest-quality access to virtual reality to the masses for the first time. Playstation VR is a good starting point (especially for gamers), but Daydream VR will finally be the lowest barrier-to-entry for VR ever seen for consumers, finally allowing VR to come to the masses in meaningful ways. So long as they buy the right phone, and the very affordable $69 Daydream View headset, or one like it.

Daydream VR offers an amazing ecosystem of content, such as YouTube’s full library, which shines in VR with 360 degree videos in which you can look around wearing the headset to see the video all around you. You are transported to that world. Additionally, it is working with many other content providers, including Netflix, Hulu, The New York Times, and many others, to allow you to experience a broad range of content in full, high quality, immersion. That’s not to mention the games coming to the platform too (like games from the makers of EVE and from the mind of J.K. Rowling), as well as the educational and practical apps that are being made available for it, like Star Chart and Relax VR. And you can also, for example, view your Google Photos library in VR. And that’s pretty cool.

This was, to be honest, the swinging point for me. Apple does not have VR on its devices, and appears to have no intention of incorporating it either. If you think about it, Apple has been very stubborn about incorporating new technologies, while companies like Google have been embracing them, and actually making them useful for people in their everyday lives. While it’s expected that Apple will incorporate, better, OLED screens for its next iPhone, and a wall-to-wall screen, if it ever incorporates VR, at the earliest, it will be a year from now.

Oh and one more thing. Google has a better assistant, too. Google Assistant is the new and improved version of Google Now. In short, Google Assistant is even smarter now, and integrates all across the entire OS now, including its Allo and Duo messaging and video apps. You can have a conversation with it anytime, and it can help you out nearly any way you want now. Compared with Siri, Google Assistant is much, much, better, and integrates itself across the OS and its services better than Siri ever could on iPhone.

And guess what? Google Assistant is only available on the Pixel. As very justly stated here, Google is finally offering its own real, unique features for its first fully-designed phone, and other Android manufacturers should be very, very, nervous. Apple should be too.

With the arrival of the Pixel phone, Google is finally matching Apple at the hardware game, achieving the true mastery of hardware-software integration. And it looks like Google is coming out ahead.

Google is finally like Apple in recognizing the importance and benefit of true hardware-software integration. And with the Pixel, it is finally coming out ahead.

Due to all of these reasons, I decided to cancel my iPhone 7 Plus order, and instead order the Pixel XL.

Sure, I won’t be getting a myriad of accessories already available for it, or stereo speakers. I won’t be getting Super Mario Run first, or some of the software apps only available on iPhone.

But what I will get is the best of Android, the best of Google, and Google’s new Daydream VR, including its headset, for free. I’ll also be getting a headphone jack, a much quicker charging experience, a better screen, and a better camera.

More importantly, I’m finally getting the OS I’ve always known and loved, as it was intended. And some delightful extras, as well. With Pixel, I’ll be getting the phone of the future, not the phone of the past.

With Pixel, I’m back with Android, and I am very happy for it.

To see Pixel and Daydream VR for yourself, watch Google’s full conference:

 

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For Nintendo NX news, check out our articles:

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-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash

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Opinion: Late November Is The Next Best Time to Reveal The NX

Hey all!

While I at Gamer Splash still stand by my claims on the previous article stating that the Nintendo NX would be revealed this month, I have reason to believe that the reveal of the console could be in the second half of November, as well.

If not October, November seems very plausible. The PS4 Pro, Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, as well as the NES Mini will already be out by then, and there aren’t any other releases at that point for Nintendo to talk about until Super Mario Maker 3DS (December 2).

The only point of contention for this would be how close it is to release of the system, but as you can see, we’ve already crossed that point, and Nintendo will reveal it when it wants.

If it’s not October, late November would be the next best time.

I still stand by my claims of October being the best time after the Wii U’s last official game is out, however, the Wii U still has two more high profile releases after that:

Skylanders Imaginators (October 16), and Just Dance 2017 (October 31).

If Nintendo truly wants to wait until the Wii U is dead to talk about the NX, then November will be the best time.

However, if Nintendo wants to have the slightest bit of a transition from the old platform to the new one, then it would still be best to announce this month.

If Color Splash comes out and they don’t announce the NX within the next two weeks, then I will begin putting my bets on the second half of November.

What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below.

-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash

Why I’m Switching To iPhone

Hey all!

As you may know, I’ve always had a bit of a love affair with Windows and Android. However, for one of these two partners, it’s time to break up.

I love Windows, as it’s what I grew up with, it has the biggest app library ever made, and gives users vastly more options. Additionally, the most innovative PC’s, the Surface line, also struck a chord with me for their amazing design, as well as their great hardware-software integration. Apple lost the PC race, and in terms of software library at least, it still hasn’t regained it. I still can’t see myself switching to Mac OS any time soon, if ever.

On the other hand, I’ve always loved Android. I was never a fan of Apple and how they locked down their hardware, and was under the illusion that because Android phones had higher specs, they would always be better.

While I continue to love Windows, I’ve had a bit of a falling out with Android as of late, and  I’m finally going to say what I never thought I’d say before:

I’m switching to iPhone.

My Love Affair with Android

I’ve always loved Android, because I disagreed with some of Apple’s early policies on their tightly controlled and hardly customizable OS, the lack of a back button (near the home button), and the difficulty of using it to transfer media from your Windows PC.

While I admit Apple did have some great OS features Android lacked, Android began adding in many of these in later updates, including the latest update.

Additionally, I coveted Android’s Windows-like experience, where you could purchase bigger screen sizes and more powerful components to go along with your phone.
But, as I later realized, Android, like Windows PC’s, have their drawbacks. My first Android phone was a cheap Red Samsung Android phone. The screen was 3.5″, and there was hardly any internal storage, but I was upgrading from a flip phone. This was heaven. Eventually, I got fed up with the lack of storage space, the small screen, and subpar camera and performance of the phone. It was time for an upgrade.

Then came along the Moto X. The Moto X was, under new owner ownership of Google, Motorola’s great attempt at changing the way Android could look. It combined a near-stock Android experience with great, useful additions that anyone would love, and good hardware (not top of the line, but good enough for most). The result was a fantastic Android phone that was more affordable than the Galaxy S’ of the day, and arguably better.

Eventually, Lenovo bought Motorola, and changed the Moto X. We got the last great Moto X phone, the Moto X (3rd gen, my current phone). After two years of having my original Moto X, it was a fantastic upgrade. Bigger 5.7″ screen, stereo speakers, faster processor, better camera, better battery, etc. I’m still enjoying these features, especially the stereo speakers (as I’m kind of an audiophile), and camera (the best video quality Gamer Splash has gotten so far). It came with Android Lollipop installed, stock. It worked great and the phone was as snappy as can be. However, I’m also a software aficionado, and love upgrading to get the latest software features. I upgraded to the latest Android, Marshmallow, and was in for a surprise.

My Falling Out with Android

Sure, I appreciated the new features and battery modes. What I wasn’t prepared for were the drawbacks. After upgrading, my once snappy phone instantly became more sluggish. It was instantly recognizable, as the animations on the home screen seemed more sluggish and apps like Snapchat and Instagram took longer to open than before. It was still a big improvement over my original Moto X, but the latest update made the whole phone slower. Apparently, the new version of Android used more system resources, or the new version wasn’t optimized for the phone as much as it could have been. This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the battery problems.

Ever since the first Moto X, Motorola has always advertised an “all day” battery for the handset. This was true to some extent, but in my experience, it never lasted all day. The original Moto X, like the Moto X (3rd Gen), had the same issues after upgrading to the latest version of Android (Kit Kat for that one). Kit Kat and Marshmallow offered improvements to system efficiency, more OS features like a built-in flashlight, and an improved battery saver. However, after updating my handset to the latest version, the system tended to become more sluggish and run out of battery quicker. Not faster, as was promised. Frequently, now my battery will be dead before the end of the day. Especially if I’m doing something important like using GPS and looking at other apps while out and about. In other words, using my phone.

Read how my day with my phone ended up in my previous blog post:

My Trip to GameStop Expo! [And News + Reviews]

Now I don’t mean to say Google was lying when they advertised these new features. I’m sure on the reference phones Google tested, Android did perform better in all these areas. However, as for Motorola’s optimization, on old hardware, the results don’t fare so well.

Sure, the new features of Android were great to have, but these came at the cost of decreased performance and battery life. At first, I thought, “Oh, I prefer the new features”. But at this point, I’ve realized that in reality and practice, it’s more important to have better performance and battery life than extra features, and I didn’t end up using the new features so much anyways.

This is the Windows drawback I was talking about earlier. While I prefer Windows and Android for their openness of the OS (and because I’m used to them), they come with notable drawbacks, as well:

The Open Platform Drawback

The first drawback:

The licensed platform. Android, like Windows, is able to be used on any machine, provided the hardware has the proper interface to use the OS. This means you can build a powerful beast of a system, and have it run without bounds, but what this also means is that you can build a very weak system, and have the OS run very sluggishly. On a cheap build, an Android phone or Windows PC will indeed run, but not very well at that. Games  may just be playable, but have low framerates and bad graphics. Apps like Snapchat will run, but may take 30 seconds to open. And you can bet they will crash and lag too. The Windows PC would have the same issues. The benefit of the open platform is that a company can build an expensive PC for the aficionado, and a cheap PC for the more economically-compromised. And you can build your own. However, this results in an experience for each user that varies vastly from person to person, with the worst being a terrible, unusable experience. And it’s not so fair to the person who buys a cheap computer or phone.

Second:

Optimization and efficiency. While Android and Windows are great operating systems with robust sets of features like their competitors, they simply can’t be optimized. Microsoft and Google make the operating systems, and allow them to scale between devices that have more or less power. This allows you to buy an Android or Windows device from any manufacturer you want. But no matter what device you buy, the experience won’t be optimized for it. Inevitably, the OS’ end up using more system resources from each system in order to run properly, and if you buy a cheap device, you’re stuck with poor performance and a bad user experience. Unless you buy a Microsoft Surface PC or a Google Nexus phone (the reference models for Windows and Android), you can be sure the OS you’re running on won’t be fully optimized for your device. Sure, throw enough powerful hardware at it, and it will do just fine. But don’t, and you’re stuck with a bad user experience.

Lastly:

There is the difference with regard to form factors. It’s no secret that some phone designs are better than others. And what may be good for you, may bad bad for someone else. Yet Android and Windows are still meant to be used on similar devices. Similar looking and similar performing. But the further a device strays from the expected specifications, the worse the OS will accommodate it. Furthermore, the OS can only be fully optimized for one device, and if you buy a device from any manufacturer other than Google or Microsoft, you can be sure that something may not fit quite right. No wonder Samsung modifies Android to work better for its handset (but at the cost of performance – leading them to put in bigger specs and batteries; we all know how that’s been going recently).

Now granted, the experience won’t vary too much between phones in this regard, because most phones are similar in form factor. But again, a cheap Android phone with a 3-inch screen, or an expensive phone with a mirrored-edge display pushes Android to limits it wasn’t absolutely designed for, sometimes taking a toll on performance, which leads to the need for bigger batteries and faster processors, whereas on a unified hardware-software system, this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem.

On iPhone, None of These Problems Exist

Why? Because of something called hardware-software integration. Put simply, Apple can avoid all these problems with sluggish performance, subpar battery life, and buggy/poor user experience by creating and molding its operating system specifically for its own hardware. Unlike Android and Windows, which can be used on nearly any degree of hardware from different manufacturers, only Apple makes the hardware for the iPhone. They then proceed to design the operating system specifically for the device’s exact specifications and form factor, resulting in a fully optimized experience.

This results in the user experience being faster, less buggy, and more fluid, because the system software is created specifically for the hardware. It’s built for the hardware not only in its specs, but to accommodate its physical design, as well.

Not only does this allow Apple to make the iPhone as fast as the hardware will let it, but also to design things in the user interface that will correspond 1:1 with the specific iPhone hardware (the taptic engine and home button with Touch ID are good examples of this).

Additionally, it allows Apple to eliminate anything that is unnecessary from the experience. Whereas Android must include all of the features in the OS in a one-size-fits-all approach to function on all devices, Apple can choose to only include features that the hardware will accommodate, resulting in the most fast and efficient operating system, perfectly tailored for the device it is running on. Due to this, you can be sure your iPhone will make the most out of the battery, the camera, and the processor it is equipped with.

The software is optimized for the hardware, and vice versa.

The Marriage of Hardware and Software

With a marriage of software and hardware, comes the user experience intended by the creator.

As with films and music, the experience will always be better if you watch the movie or listen to the album in its original format. If you listen to Coldplay on a portable speaker, it will sound good, but not as good as if you were in the studio the band recorded in. If you watch Star Wars on your iPod, it will still be a great movie, but it won’t be as good of an experience as if you were sitting in LucasArts’ studio on premiere day.

Getting an Android is like seeing Star Wars at a decent theater with possibly better popcorn, or listening to Coldplay on your own earbuds. It’s good and has some extra convenience or features, but the core experience isn’t as the director or band intended.

Getting an iPhone is like sitting next to George Lucas at the theater where the film was made, or like sitting next to Coldplay in the studio where they made the album. You will be getting the optimal experience, exactly as the director or band intended.

Sure, with the previous options, you can choose what theater has good popcorn, the speaker that has the most bass, or the phone that has the biggest camera. But with these choices, you lose part of the rest of the experience, because a film, an album, or an OS cannot be optimized for every medium or device. Thus, the experience will lack in other areas, such as lighting, sound quality, or phone performance. You get the extra convenience or features you want, but you never have an experience perfectly optimized for the medium at hand.

With the iPhone, I may not be getting Moto Mods or a Galaxy S Pen, but I will be getting a software experience perfectly tailored to the hardware I buy. Apps will open instantly and run without a hitch. The battery will last longer than the same battery on an Android phone. And the processor and memory will do more than on an Android device. All due to the OS and apps being specifically optimized for the hardware at hand (no pun intended).

Because of this, I can be sure that if I buy an iPhone, I am buying the most tailored experience for a phone. If I buy the latest iPhone, I can be sure that I am receiving the user experience that Apple has intended, without compromise.

It’s no wonder Nintendo are now choosing to launch their software on iOS first, along with so many other brands. And it’s no wonder there are just 4 Moto Mods announced so far, while the iPhone has hundreds of attachable accessories tailor-made for it by different manufacturers. Companies don’t like making one-size-fits-all products. And in many cases, it’s impossible. Companies and individuals would rather make something custom-tailored, because, well it works better. It’s more natural. It’s like one-size-fits-all clothing. It fits okay, but it’s always better if you buy one in your size, or better yet, one made specifically for you.

The same applies to iPhones. As explained by Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo can better optimize Super Mario Run for iPhone, because every recent iPhone’s hardware and OS is the same. It’s coming to iPhone first, and later for Android, because it’s a lot easier to make it work on all iPhones (largely identical), rather than all Android phones (in which everyone’s is different). Additionally, the Android phones have issues with fragmentation – a problem where most of the user-base is split by the version of their software, making consumers unable to get the latest version of Android unless they have a phone made in the last year or two. This is another headache for developers, as they have to optimize apps for all different, and now obsolete versions of Android. The latest iOS goes further back, and everyone’s running similar hardware, so it’s not so much of an issue on iPhones.

And that brings me to another point. Since I don’t have the latest version of Android, I still can’t use, or even see, the latest emojis. Years later, I still can’t do it. You’d think a simple update to Google Keyboard would fix it, but no, absolutely not. You have to wait until the whole OS gets updated (in Moto X’s case, sometimes up to a year later). And unless you’ve got a recent device, you shouldn’t count on it.

So with the iPhone, I won’t be getting a device with extra features, but taking away from the experience elsewhere. I’ll be confident that the features I do get will be as good as they can be, without compromise. And I can be sure I’ll get my emojis. Emojis are not too surprisingly, another “Apple First” thing.

And that brings me to my last point.

Why Switch Now?

I’ve been (relatively) satisfied with Android phones for a few years. The main reasons I hadn’t switched to iPhone were because of the features iPhone didn’t have. One benefit of different manufacturers making their own Android phones is that they can choose to add cool hardware features like stereo speakers, AMOLED displays, and bigger screens. And the Android OS worked better with Windows. Until recent years, iPhones had 4-inch screens, a single speaker, a standard RGB display, and were not so easy to pair with Windows. I know I would have missed some of these features if I switched to iPhone earlier.

However, it’s now turned a near 180 degrees. My favorite phone, the Moto series, has changed its plans. The new Moto Z packs a more powerful processor and Moto Mods, but it loses something more important to me – stereo speakers. And as the possible successor to the Moto X, it isn’t so affordable anymore. The price, previously $400, has jumped to over double that, competing directly with the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 of today. And all for what?

The new Moto Z is beautiful, and the Moto Mods are really cool, but there’s what, like, 4 mods announced for it so far? Even when (if?) more are made, how many companies are going to support it? While the Moto Z has a few new expensive accessories, Apple’s iPhone has garnered hundreds of attachable accessories on its iPhone line. Motorola is trying to attack the iPhone with its Moto Mods this year, and while its ads are cleverly written, in reality, they forget the myriad of accessories Apple’s iPhones already have. They just attach to the lightning port instead of the back of the phone (sometimes better for that too).

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have, on the other hand, finally added in all the features I enjoyed on an Android phone. The iPhone has slowly been checking off the list of features it missed from Android. The iPhone 7 finally has stereo speakers, an OIS image sensor (not to mention the best phone camera now, with tons of accessories already on the market), quad LED flash, and a bigger screen with wide color gamut. Some of the best things it didn’t have, it now has. And as Android manufacturers continue to try out new technologies, Apple will continue to incorporate the best of these technologies with each new iPhone, as well as introducing their own innovative features, as well.

For me, my favorite line of phones has taken a step back, removing the stereo speakers and increasing the price, while the phone I thought I’d never get has taken tremendous leaps forward, finally becoming the phone I’ve always wanted. And it’s going to continue to do that each and every year.

As a matter of fact, both phones remove the headphone jack. And if I’m going to buy a phone with that, I’ll at least take the better phone.

I’m Moving on From Android

No more home screen lag. No more apps responding poorly. No more battery problems “fixed” by a one-size-fits-all battery saver. No more updates making my phone slower. No more not seeing my friends’ emoticons. And no more being second priority.

No more subpar Star Wars with good popcorn. No more Coldplay on some old earbuds.

I’m switching to iPhone. And it’s for the best.

P.S.

Don’t get me wrong. I still think Android is very important. No company with a monopoly turns out well, so it is good that the iPhone has competition to help push it forward, as well. Both platforms are still great, and there is still other innovation on different Android hardware that you won’t find on an iPhone, simply due to the nature of there being so many different companies who make hardware for the OS. If you’re fine sacrificing a bit for some of those extra bells and whistles, that’s great. I was for several years – but I’m not anymore. If you, like me, want the best and most custom-tailored user experience for the hardware you buy, iPhone is where it’s at.

 

Did you like this blog? Do you agree? Have something amazing to say about Android to stop me from switching? If so, let me know in the comments.

For fun gaming content, follow Gamer Splash on our social media channels below!

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For Nintendo NX news, check out our articles:

Everything We Know About the Nintendo NX So Far

Why Nintendo NX Will Support Unreal Engine and ARM Architecture

Animal Crossing and Miitomo Successor Launch Titles for NX + More – Developer Interview

-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash

 

Nintendo Announces Super Mario Run for Mobile – What This Means In Long Term

During Apple’s Keynote press event today, Nintendo made a surprise announcement that no one was expecting.

Nintendo today has announced Super Mario Run, a brand new runner game for mobile.

After Apple’s CEO Tim Cook brought the company’s focus on mobile gaming, and showed off some snazzy new graphical effects the iPhone 7 was capable of, he invited Shigeru Miyamoto and Bill Trinen, as well as Mario Kart and Nintendo mobile director Hideki Konno, on stage to announce and demonstrate the brand new game!

Check out the full announcement below (courtesy of Kotaku):

 

 

This is certainly surprising for Nintendo fans, as there was no prior indication of an announcement. As Nintendo fans patiently (some desperately) await an announcement of their next console, code-named “NX”, and more details on the upcoming Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem games (previously due this Fall), instead this new Mario game was announced.

It is a welcome surprise for many Nintendo and Apple fans, as many were not expecting Mario to come to mobile anytime soon. Especially not now.

Apple’s new partnership with Nintendo marks a first. Nintendo has never partnered with another hardware/software manufacturer to bring its games to their platform. On the other hand, the move aligns perfectly with both companies’ similar designs of having control over the hardware and software, the entire user experience. Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata has likened the company to Apple before, so it is no surprise the company was keen to work with Apple in the first place.

The good news is the game is only a timed exclusive. The game will no doubt come to Android devices later. No announcement on the timing for that yet, but our guess is 1-2 months after its iPhone release.

The bad news is that with the announcement of this title, the previously announced Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem titles will launch later than expected, early next year.

While this news may be saddening to fans who were eagerly awaiting those titles, who can complain about the arguably most highly anticipated series, Mario, coming to mobile first?

On the plus side, it also gives the other two titles more time to shine before they are finally released on mobile, making the Nintendo mobile momentum stronger than ever.

Not only does the game feature a full-size New Super Mario Bros. style experience inside, but also a fun mode called “Toad Rally” which allows players to compete with their friends.

To many gamers’ avail, the game will be free to start, and will likely feature no micro-transactions, instead having one flat fee to pay to unlock the full experience. Players averse to micro-transactions should be happy with this decision. It should reassure gamers that Nintendo is devoted to keeping the Mario brand as strong as possible, providing a high quality game tailor-made for mobile, without diminishing the experience with micro-transactions.

It is also indicative of Nintendo’s commitment to bringing its major franchises to mobile and providing unique experiences, further expanding Nintendo IP to as many people as possible.

The game will release this December on iPhone, with further release and pricing information to follow later this year.

Check out a gameplay trailer below:

 

 

 

Final Thoughts:

Super Mario Run is a good thing. It shows that Nintendo is further committed to bringing its franchises to mobile in fun, new ways, and is also embracing new partnerships with other companies more freely.

The game looks like a great fit for Mario, and with the NX coming in March, we may have another fun game to play on it, as well!

In regards to this news’ relation to the Nintendo NX’s inevitable announcement, this shows that Nintendo is keen on surprising its audiences with never-before-speculated announcements and news. This is good news, as it foreshadows the Nintendo NX’s announcement should be as surprising and chock full of news as this announcement, as well as the recent 3DS Direct.

After this, I personally cannot be more excited for the future of Nintendo.

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Why Nintendo NX Will Support Unreal Engine and ARM Architecture

Hey all!

So I’ve been doing a lot of research lately about Nintendo’s NX system, and upon my travels to the never-ending void of NX rumor and speculation, I’ve stumbled upon some interesting news, coming directly from Next Level Games!

For those unaware, Next Level Games is a 2nd-party Nintendo Studio based in Canada, which has developed games such as Super Mario Strikers, Punch Out!! (Wii), Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, as well as the recently released Metroid Prime: Federation Force.

The News

According to new job listings on Next Level Games’ website, they are looking for several new employees. Among the listings is one for a material artist. The job listing states that they are looking for someone with “Proficiency in Unreal”, as well as “Proficiency in optimizing ARM assembly.”

While this could be seen as a minor detail, it also signals a new direction for the company. The development studio just wrapped up development on and released Metroid Prime: Federation Force for the Nintendo 3DS system, and with the Wii U and 3DS systems on the way out, it is unlikely they would be beginning a new software project for those systems. Thus, as Nintendo transitions development to the NX system(s), it is likely these new positions are hiring for a new game for the NX (possibly Luigi’s Mansion 3).

The Wii U did not use ARM assembly (while the 3DS does), and did not support Unreal Engine 4, so this news confirms that they are hiring people to develop for a new, more modern, system. Unless they are developing a game for mobile (which is unlikely), this confirms this position is hiring for NX game development. And if these new positions are for an NX game, then this all but confirms that the NX will use ARM architecture, and support the Unreal Engine.

We’ve heard this rumored before; however, coming from an official job listing, this is as close to confirmed as you can get, without Nintendo officially confirming the final specs of the system.

Why This Is Viable for NX

Now let’s explain why the ARM architecture is the only one the NX can use, and why it’s a viable option for Nintendo.

So recently, there has been a large debate about whether the Nintendo NX will use x86 architecture or not. Some have claimed it will use x86, and others, like Emily Rogers, have clearly said it will not. However, no one has hard evidence to prove either, besides their sources (who have been reliable in the past). Either could be believed, especially if the NX is to, again, be a separate handheld and portable console. In that case, it could have both architectures for the different hardware form factors (which would explain why there are so many polar-opposite rumors about power and architecture from trusted sources on both sides).

However, there is something wrong with that thinking this time around. What Nintendo has said, is that for their next hardware system(s), they are going to unify the software development, and have it “absorb the Wii U’s architecture adequately,” so that they can develop games for two or more hardware form factors at once, with one common platform to develop for. This would make the system similar to Android and iOS, where the software can be developed for the one platform, and be scalable to whatever device you have, provided the devices all use a common architecture (most Androids use ARM architecture, thus why they can all support the same software).

The reason that Nintendo could not develop a game on the Wii U or 3DS and have it work on the other, is because the two system’s hardware and architectures were so different, that an entirely different build of the game had to be made for each platform. What Nintendo aims to do with the NX is to build a unified platform, where they can develop a game and have it work on any form factor. Thus, they can focus all of their software development effort on one platform, rather than two, and at the same time, have their software work on even more than two form factors.

In order to be able to achieve this, Nintendo would need to develop a unified OS that would work on multiple form factors. In addition, in order to support the same software running on different form factors, asynchronously, the system architecture would need to be the same on each hardware form factor. So while the NX could be a portable, a hybrid, and a home system, in order to play the same games on all three (and not need developers to make 3 separate versions of the game), the OS, hardware, and architecture need to be the same across all form factors.

The way this could look, for example, is that the portable system would have the least amount of power, and the home system would have the same hardware architecture as the portable, but just with higher processing power and speed (similar to the Gamecube compared to the Wii’s hardware). The hybrid could be somewhere in the middle. This way, the software would work as on Android or iOS, with the developer creating just one build of the software, but the software being able work across all of the hardware configurations and form factors, scaling the graphics and features of the software depending on how powerful the device is.

Lastly, since it would be the same build of the games running on different, but similar hardware, this means the system architecture would need to be the same across all of the hardware variations, in order for the same software to work on all of them.

If Nintendo’s NX platform is truly one that is unified across systems, including home console, portable, and other form factors, with software that works seamlessly across devices, it cannot use more than one architecture.

Thus, it cannot be both ARM and x86 architecture. It must be one over the other.

So Why ARM Architecture Over x86?

While we’ve heard the NX may be a home console, we’ve also heard it will be a hybrid, and a portable console. Unless the NX is purely a home console, having x86 architecture would not be a viable solution for all form factors. Why?

As we’ve seen so far, x86 architecture has been mostly restricted to home game consoles, needing a constant power supply. Why is that?

To put it simply,

There are two types of system architectures game consoles use:

CISC (Complex Integrated Set Computers) [x86], and RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computers) [ARM, PowerPC].

CISC-based systems are what PC’s use, and RISC-based systems are what Nintendo consoles have used since the GameCube, as well as mobile operating systems, such as Android and iOS.

x86 architecture is more complex and not as efficient as the newer ARM architecture. x86 is older, closer to PC’s architecture, and uses more power and energy compared to ARM architecture, which is why it has only been adopted for more power-hungry consoles, such as the Xbox One and Playstation 4 home systems.

With ARM architecture, a more simple and more efficient programming method results in lower power consumption and longer battery life, which is why ARM is the architecture of choice for mobile devices; devices so dependent on performing for long periods of time without being plugged in. Additionally, it has been proven that on average, modern ARM processors are actually faster than x86, and more suited towards gaming.

Due to these favorable attributes, ARM has been adopted as the architecture of choice over x86, for nearly all portable smart devices.

See: The ARM, the PPC, the x86, and the iPad…

Back to Nintendo

With the NX having a unified architecture across home, hybrid, and portable consoles, as well as being closely compatible with smart devices in the future, the x86 architecture does not make sense. Energy-friendly architectures, such as ARM, do.

Another reason Nintendo will use ARM:

Nintendo has actually been using similar processors for years! The PowerPC (another RISC-based architecture similar to ARM), has been used by Nintendo since the GameCube.

Additionally, it has always used ARM on its DS and 3DS line of portables.

With Nintendo merging their home and portable gaming divisions, and seemingly moving away from PowerPC architecture, but wanting to integrate the Wii U’s architecture adequately, only another RISC-based architecture would make sense, as x86 architecture would not be compatible.

So if Nintendo is moving away from PowerPC, but wants to incorporate the Wii U’s RISC-based architecture adequately, what’s the solution?

What’s the only other popular and viable RISC-based architecture to use?

ARM, of course!

With the indication that Next Level Games is moving to ARM architecture for their next project, and ARM architecture being the only viable solution for the various form factors NX could take, this all but confirms the NX, or its family of systems, will use ARM architecture, and none other.

As we’re now certain that the NX will use ARM architecture…

Who Will Develop This Architecture For The NX?

Aside from debates on which architecture the NX could use, we’ve seen debates on who will be making the chips the NX will use, as well.

So far, we’ve heard the NX will be powered by Nvidia, with the Tegra X1 SoC, or with the Tegra X2 SoC, possibly its Parker SoC.

We’ve also heard that it could use AMD chips, such as the upcoming Polaris, based on AMD’s relationship with Nintendo and console makers in general, as well as unannounced design wins.

And more recently, we’ve heard Nintendo could be again be returning to DMP to manufacture the graphics chips for the NX, continuing on from their previous mobile systems, the Nintendo 3DS.

Our verdict:

AMD will likely not power the console, unless it is not using Polaris, and rather making a custom ARM SoC or CPU for the NX. Polaris uses x86 architecture, and would use too much power for a handheld.

Nvidia is more likely, as the architecture in the Tegra SoC’s is already there: it’s ARM-based.

While we’ve heard mostly Tegra thus-far, there is a good chance DMP is taking the reigns again, as well. DMP has been a close partner with Nintendo in the past, and may work with them again. Additionally, with the 3DS, Nvidia’s chips were used as a placeholder GPU, until DMP replaced them. The same may happen again.

See:

Interestingly, it may also be that the system could use a combination of these manufacturers. For example, the CPU could be provided by AMD, but the GPU powered by Nvidia or DMP.

Until the NX is revealed, likely in September, these are the best bets we can see for NX.

Do you agree? Have a compelling argument against us? Let us know below in the comments!

For more info on the NX, read:

Everything We Know About the NX

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-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash