Valve announced the latest version of SteamVR, 1.16.8, now has full OpenXR support.
OpenXR is a new standard that provides an API for VR and AR content that allows game engines to write code that is compatible across multiple hardware platforms. Previously, major companies like Microsoft, Valve and Facebook all had their own APIs for VR/AR content. Developers had to implement multiple APIs to ensure their content worked on different headsets and platforms, which was often quite time consuming and more complex to integrate.
OpenXR solves this problem by providing one standard API for use in all platforms and devices. It was developed by Khronos, a non-profit industry consortium which also manages OpenGL. Late last year, Microsoft and Facebook both announced support for OpenXR and pushed the standard towards becoming the new default for developers.
Midway through last year, Valve said that future SteamVR features would use OpenXR, transitioning away from OpenVR. However, with SteamVR now adding full support, Valve is the last of the big three to fully embrace OpenXR on its platform.
On the software side, Microsoft announced in July last year that the RenderDragon rendering engine for Minecraft would now support OpenXR. Meanwhile, Facebook also added a latency-reducing option called Phase Sync to Unity and Unreal integrations using OpenXR.
The SteamVR update also includes some other new settings, such as “per-app settings for overriding automatic throttling and prediction behavior” which Valve says is good for apps like simulators with “particularly poor performance that benefit … from a fixed lower framerate for an overall smoother experience.” You can read the full SteamVR update notes here.