November 21, 2014

Apple Support for WebGL Will Push Its Use

Get ready for more immersive and exciting Web-based games. Apple (News Alert) now supports WebGL, which means the HTML5 3D rendering technology now will work on iPhones, iPads and the desktop version of Apple’s Safari Web browser. With the inclusion in Apple products, WebGL is now truly cross-platform.

WebGL is a Javascript application-programming interface (API) that renders hardware-accelerated 3D and 2D interactive graphics without the use of plugins or installed software. It basically enables professional quality, in-browser graphics on par with what could until recently only come from installed software. That’s because WebGL gives direct access to graphics cards.

It had been widely believed that Apple would never support WebGL on mobile devices because it would threaten its app ecosystem. Why build an app if you could offer the same experience cross-platform via the browser, the reasoning went.

Apple has maintained for some time that it was in favor of WebGL, but that it had concerns about power use, security, and reliability. With the company finally supporting WebGL across its line of products, Apple has finally backed up its talk with action.

With WebGL now fully cross-platform, game developers suddenly have an early Christmas present. WebGL brings most of the performance of native apps, but with the accessibility, discoverability, linking and the cost-savings that comes from developing for a Web browser. HTML5 and WebGL suddenly got a lot more attractive for developers.

Those who will gain first, however, are advertisers. WebGL gives advertisers the ability to craft powerful, 3D-rich advertisements in a way that they just couldn’t do before. Apple already let advertisers use WebGL with its native iAD advertising platform, but now a campaign can leverage WebGL across the board.

Industrious websites also can start to take advantage of better graphics support and advanced real-time functionality now that WebGL works pretty much everywhere.

Support for WebGL was not widely reported compared with Apple’s other announcements at the time, such as the release of its new Mac OS and iOS operating system releases, its iWatch, and its health-tracking app. But support for WebGL might be the most significant move of all—albeit indirectly.

Edited by Alisen Downey


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