In July 2011, Apple released Safari 5.1 bringing WebGL to OS X users. WebGL advocates the world over rejoiced – except there was a catch. WebGL was disabled by default, hidden behind a flag buried deep within Safari’s preferences panel. The general expectation was that a switch to ‘on by default’ could not be far behind. Almost 3 years on, it seems this view was seriously misjudged.
But now, it seems things might be about to change due to some exciting developments. Apple has just published the session schedule for WWDC 2014. If you scan the session list, you will find this:
So what can we deduce from this (and do excuse the speculation):
- Apple would not be running a session on WebGL if it was not supported on its browser platform. Therefore, an update to Safari with WebGL ‘on by default’ must be imminent.
- The bigger question is whether Mobile Safari will also support WebGL. The WWDC app actually has a filter so that you can display sessions relevant to iOS, OS X or both. If you just select iOS, Apple’s WebGL session is still displayed. Interesting, I think you will agree. I would also suggest that Apple would not want to enable a feature or API on desktop and not support it on mobile (and vice versa). It is more likely that Apple has delayed enabling WebGL by default on desktop until they considered it ready for general release on mobile.
So, it seems that the final domino is teetering, about to fall. WebGL on Safari is coming. Happy days.
Safari 7.1 should have WebGL enabled by default. See here for a feature comparison against Safari 7.0 – scroll down to the section entitled ‘3d graphics’.