SteamVR Coming to Mac as Apple Embraces Virtual Reality

HTC Vive will work with Mac's newest operating system, coming in fall

Apple held its Worldwide Developers Conference today. Credit: Apple

Today at its Worldwide Developers Conference Apple conference the technology giant finally showed virtual reality some love. The latest macOS, High Sierra, will support VR, and we got to see a demo featuring the HTV Vive headset and Darth Vader. It may have only been a small segment of a long keynote that also included Toy Story watch faces, but the fact that Apple is ready to bet on VR shows that it's still the hot new thing in tech. 

"We're delighted to see SteamVR on the Mac, which now makes it available on all three major desktop platforms. We look forward to experiencing the new VR content created as a result," said Valve's Doug Lombardi. 

The new 27 inch iMac has a GPU primed for VR and native VR support and there's new Metal for VR creator software. Apple also confirmed that Valve is currently optimizing its own SteamVR platform for Mac and Unity and Epic – the people that make the tools that all your favorite games rely on – will bring their VR development tools to Mac too. “We are very excited for the debut of VR on macOS and AR on iOS. Best of all VR on macOS expands the consumer market for VR, providing Unity developers another platform to bring their realities to life,” says Scott Flynn, director of development AR/VR at Unity. 

This doesn't mean you're going to get Fallout 4 VR running on your MacBook Pro tomorrow, but it's does make it easier for people to do the thing VR needs most - create great content more easily. 

"Vive is driving the VR industry forward, and in just the last month alone, we have partnered with the world’s most prominent and innovative tech giants including Google, Intel and Apple, who are aligning their VR efforts around Vive," says HTC. "On stage during WWDC, Apple demonstrated their commitment to VR using a Vive with ILM and Unity. They showcased high-end VR for the first time running on a Macbook in front of thousands of developers."

Apple also showed off its augmented reality capabilities on stage with a little help from Wingnut AR – the studio started by The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson – and Epic's Unreal Engine. Apple is calling this new bunch of tools ARKit and it'll allow for much better AR experiences, basically your Pokémon Go game is about to get a serious upgrade. 

"iOS 11 introduces ARKit, a new framework that brings augmented reality to hundreds of millions of iOS devices by allowing developers to easily build unparalleled AR experiences," says Apple. "By blending digital objects and information with the environment around you, augmented reality takes apps beyond the screen, freeing them to interact with the real world in entirely new ways. Like never before, games and apps can offer fantastically immersive and fluid experiences that are out of this world, yet virtually within it."

iOS 11 will be released in fall.