Compatibility issues brewing for iPhone 3G S apps

Among the many differences separating Apple's forthcoming iPhone 3G S from its predecessor, the iPhone 3G, is its graphics capability--while the current version of the device supports OpenGL ES 1.1, the new edition will add the PowerVR SGX graphics processor core to support OpenGL ES 2.0. Although Open GL ES 2.0 boasts more complex textures and shading than 1.1, translating to an improved look and feel for games and related iPhone applications, the upgrade also poses a substantial challenge for developers--as Engadget reports, OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0 are completely incompatible with each other, meaning that apps must be written to support both formats if they are to be maximally compatible. An application written for 2.0 won't run at all on devices supporting only 1.1.

According to Engadget, language in Apple's iPhone SDK documentation suggests that the computing giant intends to begin allowing the App Store to offer a host of new applications that are unavailable to some iPhone users--e.g., apps written for OpenGL ES 2.0 and not 1.1, thus available for download exclusively on the iPhone 3G S. "When designing your OpenGL ES application, the first question you must answer is whether your application will support OpenGL ES 1.1, OpenGL ES 2.0, or both," the SDK documentation reads. "Your application should target OpenGL ES 1.1 if you want to support all iPhones and iPod touches." Engadget adds that a few existing App Store entries are not available for the iPod touch, effectively setting a precedent for the new policy.

In related iPhone 3G S news, U.S. consumers shouldn't anticipate enjoying all promised features of the new smartphone, at least not right away: Operator partner AT&T won't introduce MMS capabilities until late summer, and data tethering is an even bigger question mark. According to Boy Genius Report, AT&T must manually remove all the "Opt Out MMS" codes on each iPhone account before the messaging service can launch--the report adds that AT&T will block data tethering when the device hits retail, but it is at work on a $70 monthly unlimited data and tethering plan that would not include SMS and MMS functionality. AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega said in November 2008 that an official iPhone tethering option would be announced "soon."

For more on iPhone 3G S compatibility questions:
- read this Engadget article