Down to the Metal
Mac lag behind Windows in these key areas. Apple’s Metal aims to be the solution, offering improved rendering performance and efficiency. In this feature, developers explain how Metal will impact on the apps and games you love, and what it means for the future of the Mac.
For the uninitiated, software engineer and writer Warren Moore (metalbyexample.com) explains that Metal is “a graphics application programming interface (API), which means it’s a way for apps to get visual content like text and images on to the screen”. More particularly, it’s a “3D graphics API, useful for 3D elements commonly seen in games, and visual effects – lights, shadows, materials – that bring such games to life”.
First introduced in iOS 8, Metal is a sort-of successor to the broadlyadopted graphics API OpenGL, which Moore notes was, until recently, the only 3D graphics API supported on the Mac, and “until its latest revisions – not yet available on OS X – had significant systemic inefficiencies”. By contrast, Metal gives developers more direct access to your Mac’s graphics processor unit (GPU), which results in improved performance and efficiency. This, says Moore, means developers can “build faster, more efficient apps using hardware already in the hands of millions of Mac owners”. And since Apple “rebuilt some chief components of OS X on top of Metal, this will bring