Oculus warns VR coders its new SDK breaks old apps

Oculus has warned developers to get their virtual reality apps up to date, launching a new PC SDK that breaks some backward compatibility. Oculus PC SDK 0.7, set to hit on August 20, promises a cut in latency, more stability, and an alternative to the little-loved "Extended Mode"; however, in doing so, the Facebook-owned VR firm has broken compatibility with apps built with SDK 0.5 or earlier, along with anything built with Unity 4.x.

"This means the majority of existing Rift-ready games and applications will need to be updated to 0.7 or to work with the new runtime," Oculus said today.

Oculus says that it expects the Oculus PC SDK 1.0 to be released in November this year, with the promise that any apps built on that will work with versions post-1.0.

However, that guarantee doesn't extend to any early releases, and until v1.0 arrives developers will only be able to count on support for the previous version.

There's some good news in among all that, however. Oculus has been working with NVIDIA and AMD to finally oust Extended Mode from the Rift, the system which saw the PC treat the headset as a secondary display.

While flexible, Extended Mode had also been widely criticized for introducing lag, not to mention suffering from issues like disappearing graphics.

Instead, SDK 0.7 brings with it Direct Driver Mode, in which headset awareness is integrated right into the graphics driver.

"As a result," Oculus explains, "Direct Driver Mode avoids many of the latency challenges of Extended Mode and also significantly reduces the number of conflicts between the Oculus SDK and third party applications."

The downside is that you'll have to be using a graphics card with the right updated drivers, notably those using NVIDIA Kepler (GTX 645 or better) or AMD GCN (HD 7730 or better) architectures.

Oculus says the pathway to updating apps to support 0.7 should be relatively straightforward to most developers. The Rift headset itself should be available to consumers in Q1 2016.