AR Quick Look updates coming to iOS 16
A number of small improvements to AR Quick Look were announced at WWDC22 this week. USDZ command line tools have been updated to support Python 3 and Apple Silicon hardware, while Reality Converter has been upgraded to beta 5.
The Reality Converter app comes with a revamped user interface, an option to export models with optimised textures, plus it also natively supports Apple Silicon. Models created using either the command line tools or converter app will now be rendered using a much improved lighting environment within AR Quick Look.
Apple haven't specified what has changed here, only that this is considered version 2 of their image-based lighting system. It could be down to normal calculation accuracy or perhaps HDRI dome light sampling. Whatever the case, models I've tested do look significantly brighter when viewed in iOS 16.
There are a few other updates, mostly related to import enhancements, but 2022 is a quiet year for USDZ progress.
What has confused me is the approach to USDZ authoring. This year's session Understand USD fundamentals provides an incredible introduction to creating models with code. Clear, concise and easy to follow - there isn't a better starter video to be found online. However, no tooling is provided to back up this guide. You can follow along using any text editor of choice and the results will be correct, buy why doesn't Xcode offer assistance here?
Xcode has no built in template for .usda files, offers no code completion or even basic syntax highlighting. Instead I'd recommend following along using Microsoft's VSCode plus Animal Logic's USD extension. This combination handles syntax highlighting and IntelliSense for all standard USD types and keywords. Hopefully it won't be long before Xcode catches up.