How To: Apple Integrates Game Center Leaderboards into News+ Puzzles with iOS 17.5

Apple Integrates Game Center Leaderboards into News+ Puzzles with iOS 17.5

There are a few significant improvements for your iPhone with the iOS 17.5 software update, released May 13, but my favorite is Apple's enhancements to the Apple News app, which is making its Puzzles section even more fun with Game Center integration and even a new type of word puzzle.

On iOS 17.5, as well as iPadOS 17.5, you'll see a new Quartiles word game alongside Crossword and Crossword Mini puzzles in Apple News. Like the crossword puzzles, Quartiles is for Apple News+ subscribers only.

Quartiles gives you 20 tiles, each with two to four letters, and the goal is to use those tiles to build words using just one tile or up to four tiles. Each puzzle has five Quartiles, or four-tile words, which net you 8 points each. Find all five Quartiles to get a 40-point bonus, making your score 80 points just for those five words alone. Words made of three tiles or less give you fewer points. You rank among five levels according to your score, from Rank 1 with zero points to Top Rank with 100.

You can play Quartiles games, along with crosswords, offline using iOS 17.5's new automatic downloads option for puzzles. Check out our complete guide to playing Quartiles for more information.

Also new on iOS 17.5 and iPadOS 17.5 in Apple News are the leaderboards for Game Center. You can access the leaderboards from the main Puzzles page using the Leaderboards button, which looks like a star on top of a list. Once opened, you can see all three leaderboards for Crossword, Crossword Mini, and Quartiles. Tap one to view your rank.

Whether you pick Crossword, Crossword Mini, or Quartiles, you'll see the Daily Solve Time or Daily Score stats for you in comparison to your friends and to the world. You can tap "Current" in the drop-down menu and pick "Previous" to see yesterday's numbers.

If you haven't played the current day's game, you can still view the "Global" rankings for each game, but the "Friends" tab may only show "Add more friends to compare game scores," as seen above, or it will show friend suggestions with links to invite them or anyone else you choose, as seen below.

You can also access Game Center's leaderboards within each puzzle's homepage. When you tap the Leaderboards button from these pages, you'll land directly on the corresponding leaderboard. Once there, you can tap the back arrow to quickly access the main leaderboards page, which includes quick access to all three games' daily rankings.

If you don't like Game Center, there's also an option in Settings » News to disable Game Center rankings.

Introduced as a dedicated app on iOS 4.1, Game Center aimed to be a central hub for social gaming on iPhones. However, since the app's removal on iOS 10, its functionality has been integrated into iOS, with access primarily through the Settings app or directly within supported games. Apple Arcade has boosted its value, and features like Game Center profiles in Contacts and SharePlay multiplayer over FaceTime show Apple is making efforts to enhance its social aspects.

Despite these improvements, Game Center largely remains a behind-the-scenes service. Leaderboards can sometimes be marred by inconsistencies, making genuine competition difficult. (Can someone really solve an entire crossword puzzle in one second?)

Just updated your iPhone? You'll find new features for Podcasts, News, Books, and TV, as well as important security improvements and fresh wallpapers. Find out what's new and changed on your iPhone with the iOS 17.5 update.

Cover photo and screenshots by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks

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