Subtle Jab? Google's Pac-Man Works on iPhone, iPad

By  |  Friday, May 21, 2010 at 9:29 am

The playable Pac-Man on Google’s home page looks like all fun and games, but it may be hiding a little dig at Apple.

Firing up in Safari on the iPad, I was delighted to see the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button replaced by “Insert Coin.” Sure enough, once the game started, I was able to move Pac-Man around the Google-branded maze with finger swipes. Sadly, the mobile version doesn’t let you play as Ms. Pac-Man by clicking the coin button twice — arguably the coolest feature of the PC-optimized version. It also has no sound.

CNet’s Dan Terdiman reports that Google built the Pac-Man clone with JavaScript, HTML and CSS. Those are the same three tools that Apple chief executive Steve Jobs cited as suitable open standards to replace Flash.

So, you can look at Google Pac-Man for iPhone two ways: The more benign explanation is that Google on some level agrees with Apple, and wanted to create a version of Pac-Man that was as widely accessible as possible and not as resource-intensive as Flash. I prefer to think that Google’s beating Apple at its own game by creating a version of Pac-Man that runs nicely on the iPhone without App Store approval.

It’s also possible that I’m reading into this way, way too much.

Still, I want to see more HTML5 HTML game development like this. There’s one other recent example, another Pac-Man derivative called Pie Guy. It also lacks sound, but it’s a start. With Google’s take on Pac-Man making waves through Twitter and the blogosphere, maybe more mobile game developers will start showing interest.


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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Benj Edwards Says:

    By the way, Google’s Pac-Man provides sound for PCs via a Flash app. That’s why you have no sound on your iPad.

  2. Jared Newman Says:

    Interesting. I’m tempted to say that’s also symbolic, somehow.

  3. Aaron Says:

    I don’t think the fact that the game is made in HTML5, which Google co-authored and has been a major proponent of, is a jab at Adobe, a company Google is trying to woo onto the Android to compete with Apple, whose products you noticed this HTML5 game supports.

  4. Ediedi Says:

    Incidentally, on my 3gs it is sluggish. Weird for such a simple game i should think

  5. Tony Says:

    It is not HTML5 as it work in IE7 which does not support anything HTML 5. It is some amazing html, css, and javascript hackery.

  6. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    First of all, the deployed user base of Android phones running FlashPlayer right now is zero (0). If this Pac-Man was in Flash it would not run on Android any more than iPhone OS. Android uses iPhone’s browser core. This app could be made 100% for Android and it runs on iPhone.

    Second, Android is possibly 1% of the world’s smartphones, and 75% of devices cannot run the upcoming Android v2.2 with FlashPlayer. The other 25% will take 6 months for carriers to update after 2.2 ships. So Android v2.2 with FlashPlayer does not change mobile development from HTML5 for Even a year from now, they will have to use HTML5, even just to serve the majority of Android users (who won’t even have Flash in mid-2011) but certainly to serve all of the other mobiles which also don’t have Flash. It’s tempting to think iPhone is the only mobile without Flash if you are misinformed, but right now, zero (0) smartphones have Flash. All smartphones that are under active development have HTML5.

    And running on iPad without App Store approval via HTML5 is absolutely not “beating Apple at its own game.” HTML5 is as much Apple’s game as anybody’s. The fact that App Store apps are written in native C, not Java in a Virtual Machine as on other phones, makes them powerful and therefore dangerous, and in need of strict management. The fact that there is an open API that runs in a Web sandbox and so doesn’t need that management is a major feature of iPhone because you get the best of both worlds. For any particular app, one or the other environment is perfect. HTML5 apps were the only apps that ran on iPhone v1. App Store is an optional alternative.

  7. MicroAngelo Says:

    I wouldn’t have thought it would be a jab at Adobe, who Google invited to take part in the first keynote at Google IO 10 all about HTML5.

    Google have a long history of using clever Javascript, but not so much using Flash, so this isn’t really that surprising.

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