Unity 5.5 is now available and is packed with all kinds of new features for developers in multiple markets, but particularly the markets Unity is known for: gaming.
Unit 5.5—What’s New in Highlights
A big new focus area in Unity 5.5 is support for new platforms. And perhaps the biggest new platform supported in Unity 5.5 is Microsoft HoloLens. Holographic emulation is right inside the Unity Editor in version 5.5, enabling developers in all markets the ability to prototype, debug, and iterate on design directly inside the Unity Editor without needing to build and deploy to an actual Hololens device for testing.
The Particle System and Line Renderer components in Unity have been improved in version 5.5, bringing better tools to artists. The Animation Window has workflow improvements and is massively faster.
A new Splash screen tool means developers can introduce their brands at the start of games with just a few clicks. Let’s look at some other features in more detail.
For faster performance Unity 5.5 supports the latest physics engine PhysX 3.3.3. There is a new CPU Usage Profiler timeline view as well. That will help developers tune performance.
GPU instancing is now supported for the leading mobile platforms in Android and Apple iOS (with Metal). For Android it works using OpenGL ES 3.0 or newer and for iOS it works using Apple’s Metal API.
Linear Color Space rendering, which allows you to work in linear color space versus traditional gamma color space, is now available in Apple’s iOS and tvOS platforms via Apple Metal graphics API, and with Android with OpenGL ES 3.0.
There are numerous other performance and API related improvements.
Open Beta Features
Unity 5.5 also introduces Unity Collaborate to everyone (open beta) as a simple way for entire teams to save and sync their Unity projects.
There is also an experimental tool called Look Dev to help ensure parity of materials throughout physically-based projects. Look Dev is an HDR (high dynamic range) image-based lighting tool that allows you to check and compare assets through a viewer to ensure they are correctly authored for various lighting.
There are dozens and dozens of discreet improvements to Unity 5.5. One item that will please quite a few developers is the added support for Visual Studio Code on macOS and Windows. This open-source external script editor is considered one of the best in the field and is popular. Selecting Visual Studio Code from within Unity 5.5 will then enable automatic push out to editing scripts in Unity 5.5 inside this chosen external text editor.