Apple's Game Center to bring social gaming features to iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Until now, social gaming on Apple's popular iPhone has been largely defined by third-party services like OpenFeint and Plus+, or half-measure extensions of existing social networks like Facebook Connect. That's all set to change soon, though, with Game Center, an integrated social gaming network Apple has developed for the iPhone, iPod Tocuh and iPad.

Few details are known about the Game Center service, which was revealed at a developer preview for the upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 today, but Apple's Scott Forstall promised it would let players invite friends to games, match up against similarly skilled opponents, get ranked on Internet leaderboards and earn Achievements for specific in-game accomplishments. If all that sounds familiar, then you're probably familiar with a successful little online service known as Xbox Live.

Developers will be able to integrate these features into their existing iPhone and iPod Touch games before the new OS launches to consumers this Summer (an iPad version is planned for the Fall). Unfortunately, the OS will not be available to owners of the original iPhone or first-generation iPod touch, but, come on people, it's not 2007 anymore. It's time to upgrade!