Epic Games builds support for iOS 8 Metal deep into Unreal Engine


Though Metal isn’t among the headline user-facing features of iOS 8, its impact on games with snazzy visuals can’t be overstated.

Introduced at WWDC 2014 alongside a number of other features aimed at developers, Metal is billed as a new graphics runtime that wants to replace OpenGL ES by trimming the fat to provide what Apple calls the lowest-overhead access to the A7 chip’s GPU.

And now, Epic Games – which makes the tremendously popular and powerful graphics engine that powers many premium games – has announced that the latest version of Unreal Engine (version 4.3) adds Metal support…

What’s in it for you?

If you’re a gamer, expect a new breed of games for A7 devices like the iPhone 5s, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display, games that will be way more detailed and a lot smoother.

Epic advises developers to manually enable Metal in their game’s Project Settings and compile their code using the latest Xcode 6 beta.

Unreal Engine 4.3 includes greatly improved mobile support, awesome new rendering features, improved Blueprint workflows, and strides toward an excellent experience on Mac and laptops.

Be sure to check out the new World Composition tools, spline features, and the preview of Paper2D, our 2D toolset! Today we’re also shipping SpeedTree 7 support, our work on Metal API for iOS 8 to date, and new Oculus Rift features such as time warping.

Epic demoed an upcoming Metal-enabled work-in-progress titles, Zen Garden, on-stage during the WWDC keynote.

iOS 8 Metal (Zen Garden)

Launching later this Fall free of charge, Zen Garden showcases Metal’s capabilities by allowing for realistic interactions with water, sand, koi in a pond and more, with thousands of interactive objects being rendered simultaneously.

As more and more developers embrace Metal, both games and graphics-heavy applications will be prettier because OpenGL, currently used for mobile game development across many platforms, just can’t provide the kind of low-level access to A7-specific hardware capabilities like Metal.

As you can see, Metal is a technology Apple’s created to permit developers to maximize the graphics and compute potential of their iOS 8 apps.

iOS 8 Metal (image 001)

“With a streamlined API, precompiled shaders, and support for efficient multi-threading, Metal can take your game or graphics app to the next level of performance and capability,” writes Apple on the Metal mini-site.

I can’t wait to see what developers accomplish with Metal.


Pictured top of post: Chair Entertainment’s Infinity Blade which runs on Epic Games’ Unreal Engine.