What Does High Sierra mean for VR Developers?

25th November 2017
Group standing and looking at laptop

The release of Apple’s new operating system, High Sierra, has seen a whole host of additions and improvements aimed at VR developers. Join us as we delve in and take a look at them in more depth!
Metal 2 API – what it is and what it does
Included in the High Sierra update and apparently at least ten times faster than the previous version, this is an increased form of Apple’s Metal graphics API, enabling VR developers to sidestep the macOS system and go directly to a VR headset; even using only a MacBook there will be sufficient GPU function to utilize the VR and SteamVR, the HTC Vive, Unreal Engine 4 and Unity will also work with a Mac.
eGPU Development Kit – how much does it cost and what do you get?
The External Graphics Development Kit enables developers to build and test all sorts of sophisticated and graphic-rich apps, including full VR content. This kit will be in the region of $599 and comes complete with an AMD RX 580, 8GB of ram and one Thunderport 3 connection port.  You also get a USB-C to USB-A adapter, enabling you to connect the HTC vie to a Mac.
Can’t easily upgrade GPU
Unfortunately there is no way to upgrade the GPU if you are looking for something more powerful.  Whilst the RX 580 does the job, its performance is at the low end.
Can’t use GPU with Boot Camp
The other issue is that you cannot use GPU with Windows Boot Camp. In trials, Windows used the RX 580 far more proficiently when connected to the PCIe port instead of via the Thunderbolt 3 Mac port.  Boot Camp fails to detect the GPU and at the moment and Apple are not providing any drivers.
Can’t run top tier NVIDIA graphics cards due to lack of driver compatibility with OS 10.13
When using the NVIDIA GTX 1080 ti or something similar and connecting to a MacBook, you will find that when you get to the desktop screen you will not be able to install the macOS NVIDIA drivers as they only work on 10.12.5 whilst the macOS is 10.13.
Overall, developers are going to appreciate the coming of the macOS High Sierra as Metal 2 will do a lot of improve application development, particularly as far as VR is concerned.  It certainly looks like this is going to be a crucial addition when it comes to the growth of Virtual Reality apps in 2018.