This year’s WWDC speech was an important one as we witnessed Apple adopt most of the trending technologies and building upon them in their true fashion. While it had been insistently talking about augmented reality (AR) over the past year, it not only debuted tools for the same but also support for virtual reality in its desktop operating system — macOS High Sierra.
The said version of the operating system is the very first one to include virtual reality support, which has been made possible due to the introduction of Metal 2 graphics engine — a notable upgrade over the original Metal engine. The internal upgrade, which brings the all-in-one PCs up to speed with other computers, provide an improved and more powerful performance to the system.
With regards to the same, Apple has stated that macOS ‘High Sierra’ will now support SteamVR, as well as external GPU enclosures — one of which is being made available by the Cupertino giant itself. The tech giant has listed on its official website a Sonnet chassis with Thunderbolt 3 support and a 350-watt power supply. It will start at $599 and include AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB graphics card, which is a VR-ready GPU.
The company provided us a look at a Star Wars demo using an HTC Vive to show off the capabilities of the macOS update. Talking about the same, Apple in an official statement said,
Leading VR companies are joining Apple to drive VR innovation on the Mac with features coming later this year — Valve is optimizing their SteamVR platform for macOS and enabling connection of the HTC Vive headset, while Unity and Epic are bringing their VR development tools to macOS.
You will no longer have to dual boot Windows on your iMac computers to reap the benefits of virtual reality advancements. Via an official blog post, HTC has confirmed that Valve will bring its SteamVR SDK support for macOS. SteamVR is the software which is said to power most virtual reality headsets currently available on the market such as HTC Vive. Apple is providing developers with $100 towards a HTC Vive headset to use for VR purposes.
Speaking about the same, the Vive team in an official statement said:
We built Vive to be an open and always growing platform for VR. The Vive ecosystem is expanding every day through efforts including the more than [sixty] companies in our global Vive X accelerator program that are defining the future of VR technology.
With partners like Apple, Google, Intel and dozens more, we will continue to make Vive the best VR platform for consumers, developers, and enterprises alike.
We currently know nothing more about Apple and HTC Vive’s partnership, but expect to witness support for Oculus (which didn’t even get a mention on stage) coming to the macOS in the coming weeks. The tech giant also finally shed light on its AR efforts with the release of the ARKit for iOS 11 — which falls in line Apple’s ambitions for the platform.
As for the iMac all-in-one computer lineup, Apple has announced an internal refresh for the said systems. The most intense focus is being placed on the 27-inch iMac Retina 5K and the souped up iMac Pro. While the former brings along support for Intel’s seventh-gen. Kaby Lake CPUs along with AMD’s Radeon Pro 570, 575, and 580 to support VR, the latter is focused on more intensive tasks.