Ever since Apple's spring run-down of iOS 4, we've been curious about Game Center, Apple's attempt to add an across-the-board social gaming dashboard for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Apple left it out of iOS 4's release, but it will finally be available for free next week as a download after the release of iOS 4.1, and will appear on iOS 4.2 on the iPad.
Game Center was given a quick demo at today's Apple music event, and it seems to offer some actually useful features. While social multiplayer services such as OpenFeint already exist, Game Center will work across most games. Like Xbox Live's dashboard or PSN, game achievements and player-to-player automatching will be highlighted. Player-to-player game invites will appear as pop-ups.
However, its most compelling feature will be the capability to discover games that friends are playing. This could have roots outside of games, too--we find that app recommendations are often best when coming from friends as opposed to Apple's sometimes arcane App Store. Could this be Game Center's killer app? We'd love to see social discovery carry over in iTunes and across iOS devices in general.