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Unity launches general support for Apple Vision Pro

Unity has unveiled its support for spatial experiences including support for the Apple Vision Pro that launches on February 2.

With conflict between Apple and Unreal engine maker Epic Games, Unity has become the premier game engine platform supporting real-time 3D and XR content for Apple’s visionOS.

Unity’s XR tools, flexible workflows, and cross-platform compatibility are now accessible to creators eager to craft immersive apps and games for Apple Vision Pro.

The announcement marks a significant step in the realm of spatial computing, democratizing the process and allowing developers to seamlessly blend digital content with the physical world using Unity’s PolySpatial technology.

Apple’s device is PolySpatial, meaning it makes it easy to take materials, models, code and push it into a shared experience. You can do something like share a PowerPoint with someone else while playing a game at the same time.

The support for visionOS includes templates, samples, and resources to aid developers in building unique and captivating spatial experiences.

Whitten wouldn’t say exactly how many developers are working on the Apple Vision Pro applications, but he said it is in the thousands. Since the beta launched, developers from more than 145 countries have participated in the program.

Getting devs on board

Tripp is a meditation app.

Collaborating closely with Apple, Unity initiated the visionOS beta program last year, providing creators across diverse industries with the opportunity to be among the first to develop groundbreaking spatial computing experiences tailored for Apple Vision Pro.

In an interview with GamesBeat, Whitten said the company launched its PolySpatial beta last year and it was successful. And it is commercially available for the Apple Vision Pro and now every developer can start taking advantage of the tools.

“We can’t wait to see what people create using spatial technology,” he said. “It’s all about howe we help creators take advantage of amazing new platforms. And certainly Vision Pro is going to be one of those.”

He said some of the software is already ready like Lego Builder’s Journey and Audi car visualization. There will be games ready at the outset but many more in development for later on.

“I think gaming is maybe the most important driver of tech exploration and adoption because we’re all gamers and game creation really pushes the boundaries,” he said. “It’s exciting to me to see how people start building new experiences using this type of technology. What I think is really cool with Vision Pro is this idea that apps can participate side by side. And it’s one of the really cool things that as people start playing around with it, I think there will be interesting games that come out of that.”

A close-up of the Apple Vision Pro.
A close-up of the Apple Vision Pro.

Whitten added, “There is just so much interest in in exploring this space. What’s important about that for us is we’ve been working and collaborating with Apple for a very long time to be the first third party technology that’s there at launch,” Whitten said. “The beta is where we got real feedback from a lot of creators and it helped us hone to make sure we were developing the right features for developers.”

He wouldn’t say how much Unity invested in the project but he said it was significant. One important part was to do Unity’s “standard knitting,” which is bringing up a new platform with full support for it. Secondly, he said the PolySpatial tech interfaces with Unity’s tech stack so you can take advantage of the different features in apps like side-by-side mode for apps.

Examples of cool apps

Resolution Games has a spatial game coming to the Apple Vision Pro.

Independent creative playmaker Light Brick Studios, maker of Lego Builder’s Journey, is set to make its game available on Apple Vision Pro upon its launch on February 2, 2024.

Mikkel Fredborg, technical lead at Lego Builder’s Journey, said in a statement, “Making Lego Builder’s Journey for Apple Vision Pro has been an incredible experience, working with a completely new type of interaction and rendering paradigm. Unity has been very supportive in bringing their well-known workflow to a completely new system.”

Whitten said the Lego app is beautiful with ray-traced graphics that fit well within the spatial computing environment.

Resolution Games — an XR game studio behind titles like Demeo, Racket Club, and Blaston — is actively engaged in an undisclosed project. Built with Unity’s support for visionOS shared space, the project is set to launch on Apple Vision Pro later this year.

Tommy Palm, CEO of Resolution Games, said in a statement, “Unity’s multi-platform support and comprehensive tools for spatial computing development make it straightforward to leverage our experience using Unity and easily get started with Apple Vision Pro.”

Marc Whitten is general manager of Unity.
Marc Whitten is chief product and technology officer at Unity.

Other notable experiences in development with Unity’s support for visionOS include Audi’s immersive digital display of vehicles on Apple Vision Pro; Tripp, a VR meditation app; and Triband, the comedy studio behind the acclaimed What The …? games series.

Whitten said he expects to see a lot of training apps for things like real-time 3D for commercial manufacturing, product visualization and product experience.

“You’ll see it across the board from healthcare, operations and all sorts of things as people think about how they can use spatial computing to deliver value for customers,” Whitten said.

Marc Whitten, chief product and technology officer at Unity, said, “Unity has been investing deeply in our engine and XR tools to ensure we are here for creators from day one of Apple Vision Pro availability.”

Mikkel Fredbord was technical lead on Lego Builder’s Journey.

Unity’s support for visionOS is available in the Unity 2022 Long Term Support (LTS) for Unity Pro, Enterprise, and Industry subscribers. This move by Unity affirms its commitment to fostering innovation in spatial computing and providing creators with the tools to redefine the possibilities of interactive, real-time 3D content.

Unity wants to make sure that it’s easy for devs to bring over a project that might have been previously designed for another platform, he said. He wants devs to be able to iterate faster so they can create faster on the new platform. He thinks there will be new styles of gameplay based on the input model. Right now, there is no game controller and users will have to use their hands as input devices. Whitten thinks new will game mechanics emerge over time.

The Vision Pro and digital twins?

A feminine presenting person wears the Apple Vision Pro headset.
Credit: Apple

I mentioned that the Siemens CEO Roland Busch observed that the industrial metaverse requires a lot of precision and will be very different from the consumer or gaming metaverse. He noted that “digital twins” of factories will need extreme precision in the simulation of real-world places. By contrast, games often focus on 3D animations that aren’t as precise. And it’s a good question as to whether Apple’s tech is better for the precise simulations or the consumer and gaming applications.

Whitten said he has a slightly different perspective on digital twins. He said the words mean different things for people, and he agrees with Siemens that a full 3D data set is critical for offline, high-precision simulations using computer-aided design tools. Things like finite analysis require that precision.

But he noted that Unity often translates that technology at the high end to run on other kinds of low-end devices so that the data becomes more useful to a wider group of people.

“What happens when you move from really expensive workstation or workflow in the cloud, taking the offline analysis to customers or employees who can access it on a phone or a laptop or a spatial device like the Apple Vision Pro?” Whitten said. “Suddenly, there are a whole bunch of additional scenarios across the value chain of the enterprise where digital twins can be valuable. So you move from just the finite analysis, or I will even argue you move from the R&D department’s use of digital twins to the marketing teams that use it, the customers use it, the training people use it.”

That is, Unity will take a complicated model with trillions of polygons and translate it into something that is representative of that so it can run on an iPad or a Vision Pro, he said.

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