When Apple speaks, the world sits up and listens. At this year’s WWDC (Worldwide Developer Conference) in San Jose, Apple is talking VR (Virtual Reality). If you’re not listening, you should be. The crux of the VR announcement is an update to the Apple Mac operating system, which Apple is calling High Sierra. High Sierra is an extension of OS X Sierra with greatly increased capability for VR.
Apple Gives VR a Boost
In short, High Sierra will bring with it native virtual reality support for VR headsets like the HTC Vive, as well as support for various game engines. Apple hasn’t mentioned support for Facebook’s Oculus Rift headsets at this stage. The update will also allow users to plug in extra hardware to increase graphics capability on machines that aren’t up to spec. With this, Apple has also announced its most powerful machine ever, the iMac Pro. Ready to fully support VR straight out-of-the-box (separate headset required), the iMac Pro will initially set consumers back the princely sum of $4,999.
Why Eventprofs Should Care
VR has been creeping into events for a few years but as we predicted in our 2017 Event Trends Report, we’re now seeing an explosion of new VR applications both at events and for experiencing events remotely. However, the announcement from Apple changes everything. This is Apple’s way of saying, “VR is going mainstream as of now”. Just like it did with digital music (iPod), smartphones (iPhone) and the tablet computer (iPad), Apple has once again stoked the fires of technological advancement and cemented VR as the next big thing. We’re not saying Apple is always right… But the track record is pretty good.
By nudging VR over the tipping point, Apple will bring VR into the daily lives of the many, either through its own products or indirectly through the raft of tech companies that follow in the giant’s footsteps. This is big news for events because VR experiences both at events and for remotely viewing/attending events will become more of an expectation than a novelty.
Apple Hedges Bets With AR
As well as showing a clear investment in VR, Apple is also laying its cards on the table regarding AR (Augmented Reality). Apple’s goal is to make iPhone “the largest AR platform in the world”. To get there, Apple has announced ARKit, a developer platform which will allow virtual objects to be attached to real-world objects, viewable via the smartphone. Apple itself hasn’t yet announced any AR apps of its own so it looks like for now, it’s all in the hands of developers.
Apple is also rumored to be working on an AR headset which will likely compete with Microsoft’s Holo Lens mixed reality (MR) platform. Apple’s lips are still tightly shut on this topic. Perhaps that will be next year’s big announcement from WWDC.
We’re now way past the hype. VR is happening and it brings with it new ways to experience events both remotely and at the venue. With Apple now jumping on board, VR will soon become part of our daily lives like many other technologies we now take for granted. The time for eventprofs to think about VR has passed. Now it’s time to DO VR.