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Apple Unveils VR + AR Dev Kits

This year’s WWDC saw Apple catch up with the rest of the tech world on a number of fronts and there’s no better example of that than the announcements the company made regarding augmented and virtual reality.

For those interested in the former: Apple are bringing out ARKit.

The new software toolset promises to make augmented reality experiences on the iPhone easier to create and share.

Essentially, it looks very similar to the kind of dev-friendly AR platform that Facebook talked up last month.

However, as an interesting point of difference, it looks like it’ll be coming to the iPad and iPhone before MacOS – suggesting that Apple are looking to make the production pipeline for AR experiences on the iPhone a very streamlined one.

Apple say the dev kit will come with support for Unity, Unreal Engine and Scenekit and during Apple’s WWDC event, Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering talked it up as “the largest AR platform in the world” as a result of Apple’s existing userbase.

Meanwhile, for developers interested in producing virtual reality experiences, Apple have announced an external GPU (connecting to your iMac or Macbook via a Thunderbolt 3 port) specifically designed to make VR development possible on Mac.

The accessory leverages the grunt of an integrated AMD Radeon RX 580 is envisioned as a perfect companion to the graphical heft of the company’s newest iMac.

For developers, it’ll cost $599. A consumer-grade version is also said to be in the works but no word on pricing and availability yet.

It’ll be arriving alongside the Mac version of SteamVR, which moved into beta this morning.

It’s still unknown whether Apple plans to partner with existing VR hardware players or develop their own kit when it comes to actually consuming these VR experiences – though their presentation at this year’s WWDC did feature a HTC Vive for demonstration purposes.

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