Field of View: The week in virtual reality - Apple's VR-capable Mac Pro

All the virtual headlines you need to know
The week in virtual reality

Last week culminated in Palmer Luckey leaving Oculus, putting much of the VR focus on that company, but this week was all about HTC's Vive. The VR headset turned one year old this week (they grow up so fast!), so HTC celebrated by flipping the switch on the Viveport subscription service.

The service lets users download up to five titles a month for $6.99, and we explored how this latest move indicates that HTC is starting to see the value of VR as a service.

And then there's that little Cupertino company. Apple divorced Imagination, the company that's been supplying graphics technology for iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches for a long, long time. It's yet another sign that Apple is forging ahead with AR, as it starts building its own GPUs.

That's not all, folks. Here's what else has been happening.

Read this: News blips and tidbits

Apple's new VR-ready Mac Pro

Apple did something pretty radical this week: it apologized. The 2014 Mac Pro let down a lot of pro users who needed great graphics performance for their work, whether that be editing movies, making games or crafting VR experiences.

In a roundtable press event with TechCrunch and other publications, Apple announced it was developing a new more powerful, modular Mac Pro with more robust graphics capabilities. Craig Federighi, Apple's head of software, pointed out VR production as one area that could benefit from new Mac Pros with better graphics capabilities. The only questions are when we'll see this beast and whether it'll also benefit VR consumption

Google hires a VR dev rockstar

Soundstage is easily one of the best VR apps out there, allowing you to quickly and easily make music in a virtual world. And now Google has hired Logan Olson, its developer, to work on its VR team. Google tells The Verge that the company really loves Olson's app as much of the rest of us, saying it's "inspired by what he's built and for the potential for VR and creativity."

HTC Vives are much lighter

One of the biggest criticisms of the HTC Vive when compared to the Oculus Rift is weight. The Vive is a little too front heavy, but HTC has been putting the Vive through a manufacturing diet, and managed to slim it down to 1.21lbs. That's a 15% improvement. Our necks will be much better off for it.

Ford's VR test drives

Ford already uses VR in its design process, letting engineers see their creations before they're created. But now the famous car company is considering extending VR to customers, allowing them to "test drive" cars without stepping inside of a dealership. You can take a car for a spin in an exotic locale, or you can see what your morning commute would be like. No word on whether a virtual salesman will push you to take it home right away though.

Batman: Arkham VR for all

Batman: Arkham VR is one of the best PlayStation VR games you can buy, and this week it was announced that it'll expand to both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive on 25 April. Now everyone can pretend to be Batman.

Try This: David Attenborough's First Life

If you've ever wanted Sir David Attenborough to narrate the wonder of an ancient world in VR this is your lucky day. He teamed up with Alchemy VR and ZooFX, the studio behind special effects in movies like Gravity, to make First Life.

You're transported way back in time with a 15-minute journey through the ancient Cambrian ocean to see all kinds of creatures you never knew existed, accompanied by the dulcet tones of Attenborough. It had been shown off in museum's around the world, like London's Natural History Museum, but now you can see it from the comfort of your home.

Watch this: Chimps' 360-degree selfie

The New York Times produces a 360-degree video every day on its website and NYT VR app, and things usually go pretty well. But not this time. While at a chimpanzee sanctuary in Kenya, a chimp decided that he too wanted to get in on making 360-degree videos. Consider it an audition to direct the next Planet of the Apes movie.


Shop for VR headsets on Amazon

Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift
$499.99
PlayStation VR
PlayStation VR
$399.99
HTC Vive
HTC Vive
$799
Samsung Gear VR
Samsung Gear VR
$129.99

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