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Amidst a period of innovation for XR, we want to ensure Unity remains the best development platform for creators and our ecosystem partners. We’re excited to announce our new XR plugin framework designed to empower the ecosystem and provide guidance on how this impacts development in 2019.3 and beyond.

Unity XR plugin framework

We have been working to improve our multi-platform offering, enabling direct integrations through a unified plugin framework. The resulting tech stack consists of an API that exposes common functionalities across our supported platforms in a frictionless way for creators while enabling XR hardware and software providers to develop their own Unity plugins. This architecture offers the following benefits:

  • Multi-platform developer tools such as AR Foundation and the XR Interaction Toolkit 
  • Faster partner updates from supported plugins via the Unity Package Manager 
  • More platforms have access to an interface to leverage Unity’s XR rendering optimizations and developer tools

Unity has developed new XR plugins for our supported platforms as part of this shift. Additionally, we have deprecated our built-in platform implementations in 2019.3. 

This framework will influence how we support various types of platforms:

  • Officially supported platforms
  • Verified Solutions Partners
  • Innovators

Officially supported platforms

“Build once, deploy anywhere” continues to be our core principle, and we work directly with our strategic partners to ensure that all creators are fully supported when developing for these platforms. This involves deep platform integration, improvements to our engine, and optimizations to our XR tech stack for the platform. As of 2019.3, Unity officially works with and supports: 

  • ARKit
  • ARCore
  • Microsoft HoloLens
  • Magic Leap
  • Oculus
  • Windows Mixed Reality
  • PlayStation VR

Other platform updates

  • Gear VR is no longer supported in 2019.3 and beyond, as Oculus focuses on their current generation of hardware. 
  • Google VR is no longer supported in 2019.3 and beyond due to Google ending sales of Daydream View and the launch of the Cardboard Open Source Project
  • As part of our shift to the new plugin framework, Valve has used our XR SDK to develop their OpenVR Unity XR plugin for 2019.3 and beyond. The latest version can be found here.

Note: Gear VR, Google VR, and OpenVR will remain supported by Unity in the 2018 LTS release. 

Verified Solutions Partners

As we continue to see new entrants in the XR space, we want to make sure our framework enables better integrations for the whole ecosystem. We are excited to pair the Unity XR SDK with our Verified Solutions Partner program, which is designed to help third-party providers deliver direct value to their creators. The program offers various levels of support, including test verification and promotion of the plugin once released. Being a Verified Solutions Partner helps establish developer trust and improve adoption of your plugin. 

Learn more about the program and how you can join our network of Verified Solutions Partners. 

Innovators

Unity would not be the platform it is today without our community of creators and innovators. To enable our ecosystem without getting in the way of innovation, we’re excited to announce that users who want to experiment can now develop their own Unity plugins for our interface, though these solutions and partners are not supported directly by Unity. 

Sign up for access to the headers, documentation, and test suites of our XR SDK

Migration to XR plugins

As mentioned earlier, built-in XR support has been deprecated in 2019.3 and we recommend using our supported XR plugins.*

See the table below for our latest guidance on how to develop for each platform.

Platform Recommendation
ARCore AR developers using ARCore in their projects should continue using AR Foundation, and XR Management to load in the ARCore XR Plugin.
ARKit AR developers using ARKit in their projects should continue using AR Foundation, and XR Management to load in the ARKit XR Plugin.
Magic Leap Magic Leap developers should continue using AR Foundation, and XR Management to load in the Magic Leap XR Plugin. Developers will also need to download the Magic Leap Lumin SDK.
Microsoft HoloLens / Windows Mixed Reality HoloLens developers using 2019.3 and later should continue using AR Foundation, and XR Management to load the Windows XR Plugin. Microsoft is also releasing a new version of their Mixed Reality Toolkit (MRTK 2.3) later this month to be compatible with the Windows XR Plugin in 2019.3 and later.

Developers using Unity 2018 LTS to stay on a stable version can continue developing for HoloLens and Windows MR devices. 

Note: Built-in support for Windows MR (Windows Mixed Reality) has been deprecated in 2019.3.* 

Oculus Oculus developers using 2019.3 and later should use XR Management to load the Oculus XR Plugin.

Developers using Unity 2018 LTS to stay on a stable version can continue developing for Oculus devices. 

Note: Built-in support for Oculus (Oculus Android & Oculus Desktop) has been deprecated in 2019.3.* 

OpenVR As part of our shift to the new plugin framework, Valve has used our XR SDK to develop their OpenVR Unity XR plugin for 2019.3 and beyond. The latest version can be found here.

OpenVR will remain supported in Unity 2018 LTS, and developers can continue using the built-in integration of OpenVR in their existing projects. 

Note: Built-in support for OpenVR (OpenVR (Desktop)) has been deprecated in 2019.3.*

Gear VR Gear VR is no longer supported by the Oculus XR Plugin in 2019.3 and beyond. 

Gear VR will remain supported in Unity 2018 LTS, and developers can continue developing for Gear VR in their existing projects. 

Note: Built-in support for Gear VR (Oculus Android) has been deprecated in 2019.3.*

Google VR Google VR is no longer supported in 2019.3 and beyond. 

Cardboard developers using 2019.3 and later should stay tuned on the latest updates regarding a Cardboard Open Source XR Plugin for Unity, which can be found on the Google VR developer site.

Google VR will remain supported in 2018 LTS, and developers can continue developing for Daydream and Cardboard in their existing projects. 

Note: Built-in support for Google VR (Google VR Android & Google VR iOS) has been deprecated in 2019.3.* 

Vuforia The Vuforia Engine built in package (Vuforia Engine AR) will no longer be natively distributed and directly supported by Unity as of Unity 2019.3. The latest Vuforia Engine package will be available through the Unity Package Manager until March of this year. After March, you will continue to be able to download new versions of Vuforia Engine for Unity via the Vuforia Developer Portal

*Deprecation means the built-in implementations are still available for use in 2019.3 and will remain functional in 2019 LTS with no new features, but essential bug fixes.

January 24, 2020 in Technology | 5 min. read
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