Today, I hula danced on a sandy beach, flew over a defunct volcano, and nearly fell into a lagoon — all within the span of 45 seconds.
No, I wasn't hallucinating from lack of sleep after a hectic WWDC — I was strapped into an HTC Vive in the press product hands-on area, experiencing a VR-ready Final Cut Pro X project on one of Apple's Kaby Lake MacBook Pros.
The demo — an incredibly effective one, at that — showcased the power of Apple's new MacBook Pro when combined with Apple's first-ever fully-supported external graphics processor. Sonnet's rather massive Thunderbolt 3 external GPU chassis sat next to the 15-inch MacBook Pro at my demo station, connecting and powering an AMD Radeon RX 580 graphics card.
Support for an external GPU (or eGPU) effectively provides VR-capable graphics for all of Apple's Thunderbolt 3-capable Mac line, including the MacBook Pros. They're not very portable, but they're powerhouses — designed to crush and process the millions of pixels a VR setup requires.
This means that, yes, soon you'll be able to — with the appropriate additional hardware — run a VR experience like Star Trek's Bridge Crew on your Mac. (I can hear our VR editor Russell Holly squealing from here.) But more importantly, developers of VR experiences can build those games on a Mac.
We got a snapshot of that during Monday's keynote, when ILM's John Knoll took the stage to showcase building a Star Wars scene inside a VR environment, and I got a first-hand look at some of the other tools developers can use to build those worlds — including Final Cut Pro X, which will get an update later this year to allow for full-featured video editing in VR. I got to play with a few of the tools, including previewing the timeline itself inside an HTC Vive — and my almost-ending-in-disaster glance downward off a rope line.
VR is still very much in its early stages, and especially so on the Mac: The average user isn't going to run out and plunk $400-$1200 on a Vive and eGPU to play games from SteamVR or develop with the Unity VR engine. But it's a necessary first step into the world of VR, and the tools Apple is providing offer a buttery-smooth experience. I was incredibly impressed with the slickness of the in-VR experience and Final Cut's tools — for things that won't ship until later this year, they were both polished and controlled, and I'm looking forward to giving the whole thing a spin when it's ready for public use. (360° roller derby videos. I want to make 'em.)
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.
Apple Music, Apple Arcade, App Store and more experiencing outages
A number of Apple's services, including Apple Book, iCloud Mail, Photos, and more, are currently experiencing performance issues.
iOS 14.2 hints that EarPods won't come in the box with the iPhone 12
A copy change found in the iOS 14.2 beta suggests that Apple may be removing more than just the power adapter from the iPhone 12 box.
Twitter opens up voice tweets to more iOS users
After letting a limited group of people test voice tweets in June, Twitter is now opening the option up to more iOS users.
Find the best iPad Air 4 screen protectors and keep that screen pristine
Careful handling and smart protection will let you use your iPad Air 4 for many years to come. Get one of the best iPad Air 4 screen protectors on your device from the start.