Tristram Bates, head of mobile engineering at mkodo, assesses Apple’s latest products for use in iGaming, from the trending Apple Vision Pro to the potentially game-changing iPhone ID.
The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) takes place in June every year, showcasing new software and technologies for Apple’s different products.
It’s an event that plays a big role for most industries, as it can lay the foundation for future innovation, based on the new functionalities introduced by the tech giant.
Over the last five years, Apple has thrown several curve balls at the betting and gaming sectors, including updating its guidelines to ban side-loaded HTML5 games content in real money gaming apps, forcing operators to create native apps.
As developers of digital products, we at mkodo follow the announcements that come out of the WWDC closely to be able to further evolve our product offering and push the boundaries when it comes to delivering gambling apps.
While the last few years have focused on accessibility and privacy, the 2023 conference introduced the idea of a utopian world previously only seen in the British television series Black Mirror.
Apple Vision Pro
The star of the show was without doubt Apple Vision Pro, a revolutionary ‘spatial computer’ that seamlessly blends digital content with the physical world.
Although we might be a while away from the headset going mainstream (mainly because of the very high cost of $3,499), it’s difficult not to get excited by the possibilities and imagine how it could be used by the gambling industry in the future.
A major step up from existing VR systems, Apple Vision Pro introduces a fully three-dimensional user interface controlled by eyes, hands and voice and it can track where a user’s eyes are focusing.
The headset detects when your pupils dilate – i.e. when a user is engaging with a part of the display – and this opens up a world of possibilities for in-game feature design.
Imagine a horror-themed game that can gauge if you’re startled by something, or even if you’re engaging with the game at all, providing vital feedback for R&D – there are so many possibilities that this new tech is opening the door to.
Unlike traditional VR headsets, the Apple Vision Pro is something that is five years ahead of anything else that is on the market both in clarity and its overall operational performance and how users interface with it. Respected industry experts have referred to it as ‘magical’.
Vision Pro lets users interact with digital content in a way that feels like it is physically present in their space. Users can create a digital persona and grow their world beyond the dimensions of a physical room and can immerse themselves into the environments.
With two ultra-high-resolution displays, Apple Vision Pro can transform any space into a screen that feels 100 feet wide with an advanced spatial audio system. With 100 arcade games to be made available at launch, it serves as an indication that real-money gambling would be a natural form of entertainment to be introduced at some point in the future.
Players would be able to immerse themselves into a casino environment or a racecourse by removing the need for a physical screen, or even digitally attending a sports event in another country, making the betting experience truly next-level and engaging.
Casino operators would be able to attract new audiences to their virtual venues that wouldn’t normally travel or aren’t able to attend their land-based alternatives. Such environments would allow for the creation of exclusive experiences with roulette or poker tables for users to play against each other and be able to read actual body language and gestures.
The futuristic nature of such ventures would require a lot of investment for anyone who wants to be a first mover in this space, but the fact remains that we could be facing something incredibly exciting here which would count as a true innovation in an industry where that word is used often but with little proof of evolution.
Much has, of course, been made of Apple pitching it at an aggressive price point. Generally, this is done to create initial demand, then it’s likely that Apple will release a more affordable version once that hype is built up. Time will tell.
The other development that should interest the gambling industry is iPhone ID. First introduced last year, iPhone users will be able to present a driver’s licence or ID stored in the Wallet app at participating businesses and venues.
Businesses using NFC readers will be able to start using this huge quality of life improvement, removing the need for people to carry physical IDs such as passports or driving licences.
For online casino operators, it will mean that user IDs can be checked as part of the sign-up process without them needing to scan their IDs separately.
Loading up a casino app and having ID checked automatically, makes the UX potentially much more seamless and also exciting for operators.
It’s a game-changer even for land-based locations, with guests simply tapping their phone or watch to gain contactless entry.
There is so much more that can be done in our industry if technology allows it and continues to develop, and I think these latest developments by Apple open up very interesting, albeit slightly dystopian, opportunities that will prove fantastically interesting to explore.
Tristram Bates is head of mobile engineering at mkodo and resident Apple and iOS specialist. He is an expert in building award-winning iOS native sportsbook, casino, lottery and bingo apps for regulated markets and has worked on numerous apps which have reached millions of users.