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Game on, for real this time - Nexus One has OpenGL ES 2.0 support

Why am I writing about hardware on Download Squad? Well, because I'm sick and tired of people squinting their eyes at the mobile market in a vain attempt to understand why Apple's tabula rasa has lobbed a shiny multi-touch grenade into the space. U.S. "Droid Does" TV ads are touting all the things the iPhone doesn't do.

But what is it the Pre and various Android-based phones lack? A proper 3D engine that makes it easy for developers to write awesome games in a short amount of time. Enter OpenGL ES 2.0, a royalty-free, cross-platform API for just this sort of work (or play, as it were).

Heck, OpenGL ES 1.1 wasn't too shabby, either, since that is what powers everything before the 3GS and recent refresh of iPod touch models (not the 8GB version, however). The point is that OpenGL provides a known, viable 3D foundation for developers to make games on the iPhone (or anything else that'll throw a little horsepower at it).

As you may know, games are often an afterthought on mobile phones for a variety of reasons -- one of those happens to be the ever-shifting sands of hardware specs and platform support. With the iPhone and then iPod Touch, Apple made the target quite simple: write your stuff in Objective-C using Xcode and use OpenGL's libraries for your 3D work. The interface was totally up to the developer.

Smart developers like Pangea simply took existing code and -- with a minimal effort in rework -- were able to shrink hits like Cro Mag Racer onto a mobile device. This was possible, in no small part, because of OpenGL!

To me, seeing Cro-Mag in the store was a watershed moment. It should have been for the industry, but instead they have busied themselves with craptacular touchscreens, weirdo UI's and a bevy of "features" that no normal human would want on their phone.

So when I read the One True Googlephone, the Nexus One, has OpenGL ES 2.0 support, I leaned forward. The draft 'N' support in Wi-Fi is cool, as is the FM transmitter, I guess.

But that gaming bit -- don't underestimate that market. In my opinion the gaming industry on the iPhone is a key component of the platform's success. When I can play Ridge Racer on a Google phone, wake me up.

Tags: android, games, graphics, iphone, market, nexus one, NexusOne, opengl, opengl es 2.0, OpenglEs2.0