Later this month, builders can begin constructing “prototype” Quest & Rift apps with the OpenXR API as a substitute of the Oculus API.
Simply to clear up any confusion right here: OpenXR is not the identical factor as OpenVR. OpenVR is Valve’s API for SteamVR, completely unrelated to OpenXR. Whereas OpenVR works on all PC VR headsets, it doesn’t help Android headsets like Quest and as a result of Fb’s insurance policies can’t be used on Oculus Rift retailer apps. Valve stated final yr it plans to help OpenXR in SteamVR however that doesn’t seem to have occurred as of but.
The Downside At this time
An API (software programming interface) permits software program to work together with different software program or . VR builders use APIs like Fb’s Oculus and Valve’s OpenVR to construct apps. The API is commonly a part of an SDK (software program growth package), and informally these phrases are sometimes used interchangeably.
The issue with the Oculus API is that apps developed with it may possibly solely run on Oculus (with out hacks). As well as, for builders utilizing a customized engine, there are literally two separate APIs between Quest and Rift.
Which means if a developer desires to help all VR headsets, they should use a number of APIs. This may be time consuming and improve complexity.
Engines like Unity and Unreal make this simpler, and each are attempting to individually unify VR APIs underneath their very own new engine subsystems, however the issue nonetheless exists.
OpenXR is an open commonplace for VR/AR. It was developed by a working group managed by Khronos, a non-profit business consortium. The working group consists of the main VR corporations similar to Fb, Valve, Microsoft, NVIDIA, AMD, HTC, Google, Unity, and Epic.
The API permits builders so as to add common VR help to their apps, so sooner or later any Home windows OpenXR app ought to technically run on any PC VR headset, and any Android OpenXR app ought to technically run on any standalone headset.
When OpenXR zero.9 was launched again in March 2019, Fb acknowledged that it deliberate to help it on Rift and Quest “later this yr“. The Rift platform truly has hidden preliminary help already.
It’s additionally necessary to notice that the majority VR apps are constructed with the Unity sport engine, which has not introduced any plans to help OpenXR but (Unity is a member of the consortium, although).
A couple of years in the past, OpenXR appeared like a distant dream. However now it’s right here, and shortly builders will be capable to develop VR apps with out worrying about what they’re supporting. This could shorten the time taken to develop cross platform VR apps, and will encourage builders to leap into making VR software program who had been initially postpone by proprietary APIs.