One of the biggest gaming announcements to come out of today's Apple WWDC Keynote is that the new iMac desktops will be virtual reality compatible thanks to upgraded hardware, and development APIs optimized for VR development. In addition, SteamVR will run natively on the iMac, bringing the Vive to Apple users.
Hey Mac owners! Soon you'll be able to run Vive on macOS! pic.twitter.com/Slr9vWMxr5— Shen Ye (@shen) June 5, 2017
As part of a big push towards VR, Apple rolled out creators from Industrial Light and Magic to demo how the HTC Vive and VR will work on the Mac desktop. Using the Vive, the ILM artist composed a CGI Star Wars scene in real-time, complete with a moving Darth Vader.
All this was meant to demonstrate Apple's new commitment for VR technology which includes an upgraded API called Metal 2. Not only is Metal 2 optimized for VR development, but Metal 2 will hopefully make gaming much better on a Mac, something gamers with Apple products have constantly been asking for.
In addition to SteamVR, the two other big VR engines, Unity and Unreal, will also be coming to the Mac. Apple will even release a GPU enclosure for older Macs so they too can get in on the VR train. Basically, VR is now a very big deal for Apple, at the same time the company is also pushing AR technology on its smartphones.
2016 often felt defined by VR gaming, with video game developers, publishers, and journalists scrambling to cover the latest and greatest in virtual reality. The tenor surrounding the VR dialogue cooled a bit in 2017 and now shares space with growing talks about AR (thanks to Pokemon Go). However, VR coming to the Mac is still a big deal considering the popularity of the Apple brand. If VR can tap into the Apple user base, it will be an interesting development that could lead to even greater exposure for the platform. It's definitely something to pay attention to as companies like Sony re-evaluate VR moving forward.