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Unity Gives Apple the XR Treatment

If you missed the big news yesterday, Apple is now supporting virtual reality (VR) on its Mac platforms thanks to the new OS High Sierra and augmented reality (AR) on iOS with ARKit. During the keynote address the immersive demonstrations from Wingnut AR and ILM used Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, but the other big player in the middleware space, Unity Technologies, will also support Apple’s venture into VR and AR.

Unity is fully integrated with ARKit for iOS, with the company providing an open source bitbucket project for ARKit to get developers started. On the VR side Unity is currently offering an experimental build for content creation with studios able to freely publish to the app store with High Sierra.

Unity Editor on macOS
Unity editor on macOS with Space Pirate Trainer from I-Illusions in VR Mode

Unity has been working with several studios to test out the software, including Space Pirate Trainer developer I-Illusions. On the Unity blog, I-Illusions’ Dirk Van Welden said: “Overall, the porting of Space Pirate Trainer to macOS with Unity went very smooth. We had it running on macOS under a couple of hours. I previously had some concerns about Metal support, but Unity and Apple made the whole process pretty straightforward. Metal support has been hugely optimized in these past weeks and months and most of our custom shaders were supported out-of-the-box, while we never had Metal in mind while creating those shaders. Great job Unity, Valve and Apple!”

Additionally, Unity has been working with Apple and its API for high performance graphics, Metal 2, to gain extra performance by making use of the software’s new features such as the VR-optimised display pipeline.

Developers using Unity can get started straight away with macOS VR by heading to this forum page, or for those interested in AR head here.

For further updates from Apple on VR and AR developments, keep reading VRFocus.