The future -- one of the many we've been promised, anyway -- is apparently in "second-screen experiences."
That's right; just keeping an eye on what's happening on the television isn't enough any more. Now we have to keep an eye on "companion apps" that do anything from allowing us to drop airstrikes on a particular area to allowing us to screw with or support other players in a game's online mode.
Grand Theft Auto V's contribution to the second-screen trend is an iOS app called iFruit, an oh-so-witty pun on Apple's iDevices (and look! the logo looks a bit phallic!) that allows you to interact with the game from your palmtop device instead of, you know, using a controller, all wrapped in the pretense of using "apps" on your in-game phone.
iFruit is split into two main components. The Los Santos Customs virtual in-app app allows you to customize in-game vehicles by choosing paint jobs, window tints, smoke colors, wheels, hoods and spoilers. You can also upgrade engines, brakes, muffler, suspension and apply accessories. Order a car in the app and you'll be able to pick it up the next time you play; alternatively, you can order it while you're playing and receive an in-game phone call from a mechanic when it's ready for collection.
The Los Santos Customs app also allows you to create and reserve custom license plates for both the main GTAV game and the Grand Theft Auto Online multiplayer spinoff that is due to follow. The phrasing on the app's description suggests that there may be limitations on the number of unique custom license plates available to players.
The second part of the app revolves around protagonist Franklin's dog Chop. It's essentially a virtual pet minigame in which you can look after and play with Chop in order to help him perform better in the main game. Looking after Chop well on your phone apparently helps his GTAV-based counterpart to perform tricks, be more helpful and responsive and even sniff out hidden items. The app description also promises the ability to "protect the beach babes of Los Santos from unsightly tan lines by removing their bikinis." Hmm.
Naturally, the app is also used as a promotional vehicle for other Rockstar titles, such as the iOS ports of Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City, and is also a means of accessing Rockstar's website and the games satirical take on social networking, Lifeinvader.
Whether or not iFruit adds a significant amount to your GTAV experience remains to be seen -- but at a weighty 444MB, you'll probably want to think carefully before downloading. At least it's free.
Grab the iFruit app here -- you'll need a Rockstar Social Club account to use it and connect to the game. At the time of writing, it only appears to be available for iOS devices, but an Android version is supposedly on the way too.