Now that Apple is being open about their interest in VR the company is publicly listing new job postings for a number of roles seeking candidates with VR expertise. Two of the latest listings suggest the company is exploring VR video codecs and file formats.
The latest VR job listings from Apple are not the first time the company has been spotted looking for hires with experience with virtual reality, but activity has certainly picked up of late, with seven new VR-related job listings in just over three weeks.
The former listing seeks a candidate with “direct experience with implementing and/or designing media file formats,” as well as “experience with VR and 360 video.” The latter is looking for someone with “Direct experience with implementing and/or designing VR or 360 video playback systems.”
Both roles are part of Apple’s CoreMedia team within their Interactive Media Group (IMG). The company describes IMG as such:
The Interactive Media Group (IMG) provides the media and graphics foundation across all of Apple’s innovative products, including iPhone, AppleTV, Apple Watch, iPad, iPod, Macs as well as professional and consumer applications from Final Cut to iTunes and iWork. IMG takes the media experience to the next level on the iOS, tvOS, watchOS, macOS and Windows platforms with technologies such as AVFoundation, CoreMedia, CoreAudio and CoreAnimation.
And the CoreMedia team:
The CoreMedia engineering team within IMG is responsible for implementing software services around linear audiovisual media. This includes local media playback, video-on-demand and live streaming of multimedia content. Our media engine is used across Apple products such as Safari, iTunes, Photos, Music, Videos, iMovie on iOS and macOS as well as 3rd party applications.
Likely related is the listing for a Spatial Audio Software Engineer, also part of the IMG group—but under the CoreAudio team—which seeks a candidate whose “key advantage” would be “experience with audio software subsystems including DAWs, Game Audio Engines including Unreal, Unity and/or audio middleware for game and AR/VR applications.”
From the description of the job listings, we’d venture to guess that both roles will play a part in the development of the VR featureset for Final Cut Pro—Apple’s video editing software—to which the company recently committed adding support for VR video editing. Further, these roles, and the teams under which they’ll work, are likely developing the architecture for playback of VR video content on Mac and iOS devices.
As the VR space is still young and maturing, it’s possible that Apple is even considering creating their own VR file format. The company has a history of making it’s own codecs and formats, from the Apple Lossless Audio Codec to Apple ProRes and even to their 1994 QuickTime VR format which supported panoramic and 360 photos with interactive viewpoints for moving between perspectives within a scene.