Apple's comments on future Mac Pro hint at possible virtual reality support in macOS

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
Apple famously does not sell a Mac powerful enough to support Oculus Rift virtual reality, but that could change with a new Mac Pro update scheduled to arrive at some point next year.




In preannouncing the next Mac Pro, set to arrive no sooner than 2018, Apple software chief Craig Federighi was asked about what types of customers would require a more powerful graphics processor in a revamped desktop. In comments to TechCrunch, Federighi cited VR as an application where the current cylindrical Mac Pro is not meeting some professional user needs.

Specifically, Federighi said that VR is a type of "heavy 3D graphics" application where more powerful GPUs are needed than the current Mac Pro design can accommodate.

Apple's devices favor portability over power, which is why popular VR platforms like Facebook's Oculus Rift simply do not work on the Mac. Without necessary hardware to drive smooth VR experiences, companies see little benefit in developing the accompanying software for macOS.

Executives at Oculus have repeatedly said they have no intention to bring support for their headset to macOS anytime soon.

However, it's possible that attitude could change if a new Mac Pro with adequate horsepower and sales drives interest. Another potential platform that could support macOS is the HTC Vive, a device developed in partnership with Valve, whose Steam storefront and Steam Controller are available for macOS.

While a new Mac Pro could provide the horsepower necessary for advanced VR applications, it's unlikely that Apple itself would invest in such technology for a niche market. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has praised virtual reality, but also said he believes there is more interest in augmented reality --an interest expected to bear fruit later this year with facial recognition capabilities in a rumored "iPhone 8."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 26,168member
    Sounds like they are admitting they have a problem and are finally addressing it. This is a very positive development.
    edited April 4 Cineplex
  • Reply 2 of 23
    Sounds like they are admitting they have a problem and are finally addressing it. This is a very positive development.
    It sounds to me like they want to produce VR instead of using it themselves.
    randominternetperson
  • Reply 3 of 23
    This article is a real stretch.  Apple announces that they intend--but not this year--to release a line of head-less macs that will suit the needs of the most extreme pro users.  To jump from there to "perhaps now Occulus Rift (and their obviously inefficient architecture) will have in the incentive to support macOS" is absurd.
    therunningvmrepressthiszoetmbwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 23
    sog35sog35 Posts: 12,367member
    Sounds like they are admitting they have a problem and are finally addressing it. This is a very positive development.
    There was no 'problem' to address. There was simply no reason to have hardware to run VR the last 3 years. VR is still a super niche application that very few use. In a couple years VR may get more popular and by then the Macs will be ready to run them.
  • Reply 5 of 23
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 26,168member
    sog35 said:
    Sounds like they are admitting they have a problem and are finally addressing it. This is a very positive development.
    There was no 'problem' to address. There was simply no reason to have hardware to run VR the last 3 years. VR is still a super niche application that very few use. In a couple years VR may get more popular and by then the Macs will be ready to run them.
    The problem is no updates to their pro line of desktops. Has nothing to do with VR.
    zoetmb
  • Reply 6 of 23
    The problem is that when I was at NAB event and went up into Samsung's and Oculus' booths to see what they had for VR it was a nice setup with a swivel chair and a person there handing out the VR headsets. You sat down put them on and selected like 4 different scenes, one was like an african safari and another was a surfing scene following a surfer as he went into a huge wave, and the other 2 I didn't watch so don't remember. Each video though had great sounds and swiveling in the chair allowed you to get the full 360 effect easily, but the Video itself was horrendous. It was like watching a 1950's technicolor produced show when you sat right next to the tube TV. The artifacting was so apparent and ugly that I couldn't think anyone who actually gamed with these would want to do so for maybe more than 10 minutes before moving on to something a whole lot better. My co-workers all agreed that even though VR was cool, we were not going to even think about putting out a product on it until it would get to a point where users would be able to have 1080p quality, which from what we could see is a long ways off. I think Apple is good for moving to AR which has much more practicality and is something which works and can be used now instead of waiting for GPUs from the vendors to get to where they need to be to make VR work like it should.
    ravnorodomwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 23
    I've been confused about this topic for some time. So you mean to tell me that a $3K+ spec. out MacBook Pro as wells as a Mac Pro is too weak to run Oculus VR? Makes upper-end Apple computers seem like toys, no? What makes Windows compatible machines so robust and special?
    edited April 4 watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 23
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 1,294member
    The problem is that when I was at NAB event and went up into Samsung's and Oculus' booths to see what they had for VR it was a nice setup with a swivel chair and a person there handing out the VR headsets. You sat down put them on and selected like 4 different scenes, one was like an african safari and another was a surfing scene following a surfer as he went into a huge wave, and the other 2 I didn't watch so don't remember. Each video though had great sounds and swiveling in the chair allowed you to get the full 360 effect easily, but the Video itself was horrendous. It was like watching a 1950's technicolor produced show when you sat right next to the tube TV. The artifacting was so apparent and ugly that I couldn't think anyone who actually gamed with these would want to do so for maybe more than 10 minutes before moving on to something a whole lot better. My co-workers all agreed that even though VR was cool, we were not going to even think about putting out a product on it until it would get to a point where users would be able to have 1080p quality, which from what we could see is a long ways off. I think Apple is good for moving to AR which has much more practicality and is something which works and can be used now instead of waiting for GPUs from the vendors to get to where they need to be to make VR work like it should.
    There already is 1080p quality with VR. Games on the Playstation VR look fine. I've seen a few videos that didn't look good, but with the PS4 Pro, videos are a lot better now. 

    EDIT: I wanted to add is the issue with smartphones and even PS VR is the so called "screen door effect." With Samsung Gear for example, the problem is the screen resolution of smart phones. What's happening is the way VR is created, it's splitting images into two. By doing that, you are getting half the PPI resolution. For phone VR, you really need a 4K screen, but that might not even be enough. Plus, phones obviously don't have enough processing power either. 
    edited April 4 repressthis
  • Reply 9 of 23
    Apple shouldn't be bothered with VR. Microsoft demos their VR in a shopping mall using a $3000 Alienware (a humongous towel PC) and the graphic is still very limited in term of populating polygon objects in the screen (ex. desert or ocean or open space landscape instead of you are inside New-York-City-ish environment). The cost doesn't justify.
    edited April 4
  • Reply 10 of 23
    viclauyycviclauyyc Posts: 103member
    Is Apple trying to wait for quantum computer for the next Mac Pro? Seems like they are doing exactly that.
  • Reply 11 of 23
    viclauyycviclauyyc Posts: 103member
    Mac, computer for tomorrow's technology that no one use today.
  • Reply 12 of 23
    Sounds like they are admitting they have a problem and are finally addressing it. This is a very positive development.
    Indeed !🤞🤞🤞
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 13 of 23
    I've been confused about this topic for some time. So you mean to tell me that a $3K+ spec. out MacBook Pro as wells as a Mac Pro is too weak to run Oculus VR? Makes upper-end Apple computers seem like toys, no? What makes Windows compatible machines so robust and special?
    It's not that the machine or the video card aren't up for the task. The macpro is quite robust. The problem is that it was designed for professionals who need a specific video card.

    VR does not need a card optimized for EXACT rendering, (as you might need for engineering, architecture and scientific applications). What VR really needs is a card that will push as many frames as possible, with reasonable render accuracy. 

    They're two different setups and for a slew of reasons the cards that push frames always favor PCs. Apple has always designed the OS to take advantage of specific cards and not a range of cards and it's always been slim pickings. The problem was exacerbated when they went with the cylinder form factor putting even more restrictions on your options.

    its kind of the Achilles heal of Apple. I say that knowing 97% +  of the time it goes unnoticed and that's why Apple makes those decisions and continues to be successful. Most of their customers don't care because they don't have a need. 

    In some ways it's kind of a nice gesture to reach out to pros who have such needs. They're an important part of the market, both in mindshare and developement. For some "hobbyist features" are important to development.   

    Let's hope they don't blow like they did with the last major update. They really thought and tried very hard to convince everyone the cylinder was amazing and it was far from it. If they're going to bother to reach out to the 3% of their users who need such a machine, I hope they realize that we need expansion, we need options, we need flexibility. We are not the 97% who "just want our devices to work". That's the crowd the cylinder was designed for and that is not us. I would think they were fully capable of designing a nice possibly modular system (-s). 

    The "pro iMac" might be nice especially if Apple were to developed an TB3 expansion chassis that didn't suck. It would be a really nice match for the MBP and the macpro cylinder. They really just need to fill the gap. Put less strain on the "tower" if you call it that and have a nice quiet little box for insane people like myself who need that sort of expansion. It would really open up the possibilities of the whole lineup. 

    You could theoretically expand whatever computer you want.  You could even use it to share resources between devices. 

    And in the end, the thing that sits in your desk can still be the elegant, small, lightweight appliance that we all honestly prefer and the power can reside under the desk or in a closet. 

    Whatever way they go we need access to standard industry interfaces. It would be nice to drop an nvidia 1080 in the whole line for example, but Apple is nowhere near that. 


    edited April 4 repressthiszoetmb
  • Reply 14 of 23
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 1,356member
    I've been confused about this topic for some time. So you mean to tell me that a $3K+ spec. out MacBook Pro as wells as a Mac Pro is too weak to run Oculus VR? Makes upper-end Apple computers seem like toys, no? What makes Windows compatible machines so robust and special?
    calling a mac a toy is a silly troll trope. high end VR of the OR sort is such a minute niche that it's insane to call all other computing a toy if they aren't doing it. software development, graphics, publishing, video editing, running a business, etc, all work fine on a mac. 
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 23
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 1,356member

    viclauyyc said:
    Mac, computer for tomorrow's technology that no one use today.
    Trolls, people who complain about things they don't even have. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 23
    dualiedualie Posts: 331member
    Apple famously does not sell a Mac powerful enough to support Oculus Rift virtual reality, but that could change with a new Mac Pro update scheduled to arrive at some point next year.
    More like INFAMOUSLY. Not having a machine powerful enough is hardly something to celebrate.
    repressthis
  • Reply 17 of 23
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 1,356member
    it's neither famous nor infamous -- most people on earth have never heard of Occulus Rift. i'm a software dev and i wasn't even sure it was out of beta yet. does John Carmack still head it? who knows. it's so far from mainstream it's laughable to say not having it is important. 
    randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 23
    DemonkidDemonkid Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    i need a pro mac so i can expand my pro work in 3D, none of this old photoshoppy video editing rubbish of past decades. They should be demonstrating pro mac performance on software like unity3d, maya and substance painter. And as for VR ready macs, its all well and good having a pro mac that can build these experiences and apps for VR, but if the iMacs cant support the headsets, then whats the point developing for the tiny tiny few that can afford a headset and a mac pro to run it. There has to be a huge boost in graphics performance for VR on the entite mac range for it to make sense to me.
  • Reply 19 of 23
    tshapitshapi Posts: 95member
    This is connected to the info that the gpu is moving inhouse.  

    Think about it.  Vr and ar are graphic intensive.  Apple is being its GPU chip design inhouse.  Apple is working toward designing more efficient GPUs that they can then build into there A series chips for better battery performance.   Apple will be tackling VR and AR within the next couple years 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 23
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 314member
    Apple is more focused on having it's customers distracted than creating tools to help us discover our own realities.  
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