Can buy Apple Nintendo

Instead of Nintendo and Playstation: Apple TV as a game console

Stephan Lamprecht

In contrast to Microsoft or Sony, Apple does not have a dedicated game console. With your iOS device and an Apple TV, you can fill this gap yourself

Many market analysts have predicted the end of classic game consoles with the appearance of the second generation iPad at the latest. The sales figures of the latest generation of Playstation and Xbox have already pulverized such predictions. Nobody knows for sure whether Apple is actually working on its own console or whether gaming features will be an integral part of the Apple TV, which is repeatedly mentioned in rumors.

What we definitely do know, however, is that the iPad is a very versatile device - and that it can also be played wonderfully with it, just like with an iPhone. But what makes the consoles so appealing is the visual splendor on the displays of current televisions. And this is exactly the feeling you can get on your home television with an Apple TV. All you need is a TV set with Apple TV, an iPad or iPhone and a few compatible games.

Connect iPad and TV

EnlargeIn the control center of iOS 7, you can choose which Airplay-enabled devices you want to stream your screen content to.

In order to get the game from the iPad to the TV, you technically have two options. The first variant: You use an adapter cable to send the picture from the iOS device to the television via HDMI - but this is not very practical and bothers you when playing. The second variant is much more fun: an Apple TV. You can use this as a recipient for the images from the iOS device. With an investment of just under 100 euros for Apple's set-top box and a few euros for an HDMI cable, you're there - and you can start having fun.

If the iPad or iPhone and the Apple TV are connected to the same WiFi network, you can easily transfer screen content between the devices. And just as you are used to from Apple, it works almost without any manual configuration. Because the two devices recognize each other automatically. To do this, first turn on your Apple TV. On the iPad with iOS 7, swipe up from the bottom with your finger on the unlocked screen and open the control center. In the middle of the action area you will see a switch labeled "AirPlay". In the dialog following the tip, you can see the devices in your network that are suitable for the transfer. Tap the Apple TV and move the slider next to Screen Sync to active. The iPad tries to establish the connection with the box and after a few moments the picture should appear on the television.

At first glance, the tablet's work surface looks a bit lost on the TV's display. No matter how you turn and turn the tablet or smartphone: A black frame remains. Only when you want to play back photos or videos does the Apple TV then also display them in full screen. For the console feeling, you now need games that also make use of Airplay technology.

Apple, iOS and Games - will you have your own console?

The fact that Apple attaches great importance to the topic of iOS games is made clear not least by the new Sprite Kit framework, which facilitates the development of arcade games in 2D for all iOS devices. Sprite Kit is the first official gaming framework from Apple and thus a clear commitment to playing on iPhone, iPad and even Apple TV. The integration of game controller functions in the development kits of OS X and iOS is definitely causing the rumor mill to boil again that Apple could work on a console.

Manufacturers such as Logitech, Moga or Razer have already presented their own hardware that extends the functionality of a gamepad to iPhones. Thanks to the powerful framework and the support of the hardware manufacturers, the combination of iPhone and controller attachment could become a serious alternative to handheld consoles such as Nintendo's 3DS or Sony's PS Vita. Popular iOS games such as Oceanhorn, Nimble Quest, The Walking Dead or Bastion already support the controller framework. The only problem: the developers only had access to Apple's game controller specifications for the implementation, but not to prototypes of the hardware from the accessory manufacturers. For example, the Zelda clone Oceanhorn plays a bit bumpy with the game controller.

Your own Apple console? It is unlikely to happen. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo offer their own devices at just under cost price. The barriers to market entry would be high even for Apple, especially since the top dogs can fall back on a very large installed hardware base. However, an iPhone or iPad as a gamepad and the optional display of the game via Airplay result in a gaming experience that competitors and console manufacturers with their second-screen solutions (Playstation app and Xbox Smartglass) or companion apps (Assassin's Creed 4 or Battlefield 4) can hardly offer.

The WLAN decides

The technology behind Airplay is mature, but heavily dependent on the stability of the internal network. If you want to play via Airplay, make sure that you place the Apple TV in an area of ​​your apartment or house that is well lit by your WiFi router. In the settings of the Apple TV you will find a note on the reception position in the network settings. The more points are filled, the better. If you often have to deal with crashes or annoying hangs during the game, always start at this point. If it is technically not feasible to position the router and Apple TV closer to each other, purchasing a repeater may bring the necessary reception quality and speed. It has also already been reported that some manufacturers' routers will improve if the devices are assigned a fixed IP address. The signal path between Apple TV and TV set should also be kept short.

Conclusion: games with Apple TV

Apple's set-top box is not a real competitor to Playstation 4, Xbox One or WiiU at the moment. However, the implementation of airplay gaming with Apple TV is really easier. Even children can establish the connection between Apple TV and iPad and play their iOS games on the TV. The fun of the game is only tarnished if the network is unstable or there is interference. But if Apple manages to make the leap to Apple TV with the controller framework, the cards will be reshuffled again. Until then, Airplay gaming on the Apple TV is a fun, but far from ideal solution.