On Tuesday, Unity released the latest version of its 3D engine, which brings improvements to the Scriptable Render Pipeline that the company introduced earlier this year.
Introduced in Unity 2018.1 as a preview feature, the Scriptable Render Pipeline (SRP) enables developers to optimize the performance of their apps based on hardware profiles. Unity's Lightweight Render Pipeline (LWRP) is designed for running high-quality immersive content on smartphones and tablets, while the High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) allows developers to take advantage of super powered gaming consoles and PCs.
"One of the goals for Unity 2018.2 has been to build on the Scriptable Render Pipelines (SRPs) in order to enable next-level rendering," wrote Thomas Krogh-Jacobsen, a senior product marketing manager at Unity, in a blog post. "Another focus area has been to develop a range of features and improvements that will help you succeed in mobile."
In Unity 2018.2, SRP is still a preview feature, so Unity warns against using the features for production apps. It does receive some additional capabilities, mostly in the high-def pipeline. The HDRP receives support for Shader Graph, Unity's new tool (also in preview) that enables developers to build shaders graphically instead of via coding. The HDRP also gains improvements in volumetrics, glossy planar reflection, mesh decals, shadow mask, and other attributes.
The release brings a host of quality-of-life improvements for developers. Of particular note for augmented reality mobile app development is the addition of a plugin for Google Play Instant packages. As seen at Google I/O, Google Play Instant is gaining support for ARCore, with Tapcart acting as the guinea pig on Android.
While the market for development tools continues to grow alongside the demand for immersive experiences, Unity still stands tall among the competition. According to a company spokesperson, content, apps, and games built through Unity have generated more than $12.4 billion over the past 18 months.
With companies like Adobe and its Project Aero toolkit mounting a challenge to Unity's high perch, continued improvement will be critical for the company to maintain its market share.