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Google Brings Ingress Location-Based Game To iPhone And iPad

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Google has brought its Ingress game to iOS, with a launch of the app for iPhone and iPad released late yesterday. The app has been available for two years now, and has managed to accumulate over four million downloads on Android. Google’s Niantic Labs is likely hoping to be able to boost usage by expanding its offering to the iOS cloud, because even the Google crowd can’t deny the reach and impact of the App Store.

Ingress‘ download numbers in the Play Store are nothing to sneeze at, even though they don’t even approach the high figures of viral titles like Angry Birds. And Ingress is showing steady growth; it managed three million downloads between August of last year and today. Last August Ingress lead John Hanke also said that “a large chunk of those are active,” though he didn’t specify beyond that. The Ingress team also says that in the first six months of this year, they’ve seen 12,500 ‘Agents’ (Ingress players) take part in events across 65 cities worldwide, with 74,000 miles traversed and 22,400,000 in-game actions performed by players.

The game also features a rich storyline complemented by video and other media assets, just like any other large-scale MMO. But despite all of its success, it still manages to fly pretty much under the radar for the general user population, and a launch on iOS could help propel it to a more mainstream audience.

What Google is attempting to do with Ingress is similar to its aim with the Niantic-created Field Trip app; namely, it wants to get smartphone users out and interacting with their world. The advantage of this is two-fold, offering up data potential to Google, and in terms of giving device owners more compelling reasons to use their devices for more than just traditional activities like checking email.

Motivating users to get out their devices and engage in real-life scavenger hunts isn’t exactly the easiest task, however – makers of similar augmented reality, location-based games like Shadow Cities and Please Stay Calm have told me in the past that players still prefer to play at home and in the office, while stationary, even when games encourage exploratory activity and real-world interaction.

Ingress remains an interesting experiment that’s managing to pick up traction at a decent clip, however, so its progress on iOS will be interesting to watch.