Apple has for the first time released developer tools for its in-house graphics accelerator Metal that run on Windows. This will allow PC developers to address Apple platforms such as Mac or iPhone with appropriate optimizations. Previously the tools were available only for macOS.
Everything from one source
With the new Metal Developer Tools (MDT) it is possible to compile elements in the Metal Shading Language (MSL) from Windows 10, which then become so-called Metal Library Objects (MLOs) that can be used on macOS, iOS, iPadOS and tvOS. Developers, especially from the gaming industry, can develop their code on Windows and then deploy it to Apple operating systems.
This makes the work much easier, because many development studios handle their complete production chain – no matter if the whole game or single graphical assets – under Windows. With the MDT, compute shaders and other graphic elements can now be compiled on the PC.
Metal makes the graphics fast
Metal allows developers an "almost direct" access to the GPUs of Mac, iPhone and iPad as well as tvOS devices. Pre-compiled shaders, multithreading and precise resource control should provide more graphics power. Since iOS 13 and tvOS 13, custom compute commands with indirect compute encoding can also be used.
Metal Developer Tools for Windows do not mean that you can develop complete games and graphics-intensive applications for Apple platforms without a Mac. So it remains that a Mac is necessary for testing the apps as well as for signing and uploading to Apple’s App Store. However, the MDTs were allowed to simplify a port of native PC titles – especially in the context of the new ARM Macs, which are to be released this year. Apple will then no longer rely on Intel for all its platforms.