3D Comes to Android Games and Apps with Honeycomb

At Google’s Mountain View press conference today, the future of Android gaming with the new Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system was presented, and it looks promising. A 3D friendly development tool called Renderscript is going to open up all sorts of advanced 3D gaming possibilities for mobile Android devices. Right now, what this means is more action, and more detail on screen, with no discernible drop in frame rate. The new 3D features aren’t just for gaming, though. There are some pretty useful apps on the way that take full advantage of this new technology.

Games like Monster Madness featured full 3D gameplay, with a pretty good amount of action on screen and a crisp framerate. Another game, produced by the History Channel, featured historical battles with dozens of individual units on screen taking unique actions. From the looks of things, performance issues for 3D games on Froyo should be alleviated, and more complex, active 3D gaming should be on its way. Of course, the most important piece of gaming news came near the end of the press conference: Tap Tap Revenge is finally coming to Android. Why did it take so long? Apparently, because the developers were waiting for Google to integrate in-app purchasing with the Android SDK, which is finally here. It’s a dream way to make money for developers, and it means users will be seeing a lot of DLC (like individual songs for Tap Tap Revenge) and premium versions of free apps in the near future. Finally, Google has taken steps to ensure that all existing Android apps work without modification on Honeycomb, so you’ll still have access to your old favorites.

Another brand new Google app unveiled today that takes full advantage of Renderscript is called Google Body. It provides a full 3D model of the human body, with all the 3D fixings (zoom, tilt, rotate, etc). You can peel back the layers, too, looking at muscle systems and the skeleton. Detailed names of all parts of the body are included. The presenter mentioned the possibility of contact with your doctor on the fly, while being able to instantly find and identify areas of concern, or to look up some obscure part of your body that your doctor name drops, but you can barely pronounce. It looks early in development, and a little rough around the edges, but with some polish there’s no doubt that this app will prove to be quite useful in the future.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, as developers have just recently gotten their hands on the Honeycomb SDK. It sounds awfully easy to use, though. The Disney presenter who discussed Tap Tap Revenge mentioned that it took his team a mere five days to fully and successfully integrate in-app purchasing and get the game ready for the Honeycomb demo today. We’ll be seeing a whole lot more from Honeycomb Developers at the Mobile World Congress later this month. At least 50 developers are reported to be showing off apps and games at the conference in Barcelona. We’ll keep you updated.

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