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Apple signs up for WebGL graphics in iAds

Microsoft has declared WebGL unfit for 3D Web graphics duty, but Apple will support it for its ad service on iOS 5.

Microsoft has declared WebGL too risky to use, but it turns out Apple is an ally of the 3D Web graphics technology.

Apple hasn't said whether it plans to ship WebGL, though nightly builds of the WebKit open-source browser on which Safari is based include support. But an Apple employee said this week it will be an option on iOS 5--for iAds only.

"WebGL will not be publicly available in iOS 5. It will only be available to iAd developers," said Apple's Chris Marrin on a WebGL mailing list.

That's right--all you folks who relished the absence of intrusive Flash ads on your iPhones and iPads, brace yourself for animated 3D graphics based on WebGL. WebGL can be good for 2D animations such as "sprites" that move around the screen, too.

It's not clear if WebGL will arrive in Safari for personal computers, although that seems like a likely possibility now, or if Apple plans to make it available later for mobile Web programming in general.

Apple's support, however limited, gives some support to a technology under attack. Security firm Context Information Security has raised concerns that are being addressed, but a bigger blow to WebGL came yesterday from Microsoft.

"We believe that WebGL will likely become an ongoing source of hard-to-fix vulnerabilities," Microsoft said. "In its current form, WebGL is not a technology Microsoft can endorse from a security perspective."

Another notable voice chimed in today: John Carmack, founder and technical director of Id Software of Doom and Quake fame.

"I agree with Microsoft's assessment that WebGL is a severe security risk. The gfx [graphics] driver culture is not the culture of security," Carmack said in a tweet today. "They are orthogonal technologies, but NaCl is much, much easier to make secure than WebGL, even though it sounds scarier," he added.

NaCl is Native Client, a technology under development from Google that lets downloadable native apps run at high speed in an environment Web apps run

It should be noted, too, that Google is building 3D into Native Client, too.