Unreal Engine 4.18 Now Available with Native ARKit and ARCore Support

The latest Unreal Engine 4 update has big implications for VR and AR development.

The latest edition of the videogame development suite, Unreal Engine 4, has today been released and is available to download now. Epic Games has included ‘hundreds of updates’ along with 98 improvements submitted by the Unreal Engine developers community.

ARKitThis latest edition sees a huge step forward for augmented reality (AR) development, with support for Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore now included natively. Unreal Engine 4.18 includes ‘production-ready’ support for Apple’s ARKit in iOS11, including for new handsets iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

“We’ve streamlined workflows making use of existing framework components, added robust handling of the passthrough camera, and increased fidelity by improving performance and prediction,” states Jeff Wilson, Documentation Lead at Epic Games, before noting “There have been significant changes since the experimental support for ARKit in Unreal Engine 4.17. ARKit projects created using 4.17 will require updating to work in 4.18.”

In addition to native support, the ARKit updates also include the Desktop-class Forward Renderer used in the Wingnut AR demo at WWDC 2017. Though still currently experimental, the new technology is supported on iOS devices with an A9 or later processor running iOS 10.3 or newer, with an A10X or better running iOS 11 strongly recommended.

Wingnut AR 1“This rendering technology brings the same support physically based shading, reflections, lighting, and shadowing to the latest iOS devices,” offers Wilson. “These features are more demanding than the existing mobile renderer on the hardware and are experimental so some features may not function correctly on all devices & OS revisions. The following features are known not to work: GPU skin-cache, GPU morph-targets, Atmospheric Fog and Multi-Sample Anti-Aliasing.”

Following ARKit is the turn of ARCore, which is now supported natively as a developer preview. This new addition takes advantage of common AR functionality in the engine and features improved handling of the passthrough camera.

Both AR and virtual reality (VR) are getting a boost from a new Refactored VR / AR Camera System. Unreal Engine 4.18 now contains a default camera implementation for both Camera Components and raw view that includes late-update automatically handled by the engine. Furthermore, the latest SDK’s from Oculus VR (Oculus Runtime 1.17), SteamVR (SteamVR 1.39) and macOS (masOS 10.13 High Sierra) have been added in fully functional states.
Apple - HTC Vive - Star Wars

The latter of these runtime updates, High Sierra, is most significant as it lets HTC Vive developers jump straight into adapting their VR titles for Mac format PCs. Or, of course, building entirely new experiences.

Unreal Engine 4.18 is available to download via the Unreal Engine Client now, and you can find the full release notes on the Unreal Engine Forum. VRFocus will keep you updated with all the latest updates to AR and VR development platforms.

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