The latest news from Unity is that, while Unity 3.5.5 is available, Unity 4 was also recently announced. Unity 3 will continue to be supported, and updates will continue for the engine through at least the end of 2012 (including support for iOS 6, Android 4.1, OS X “Mountain Lion”, and Windows 8).
Unity 4 is likely be the topic of much of Unite 2012, the convention dedicate to the Unity engine, is currently being held in Amsterdam. Unite 2012 runs from August 21-24, 2012.
What do we have to look forward to in Unity 4?
- DirectX 11 support
- 10 publishing platforms, including Linux
- Dynamic shadows and fonts on mobile
- Lightmapping and normal map baking
- New user interface structure
- and much more!
So do you have to upgrade from Unity 3 to the new engine? No, not at all. Unity 3 will continue to be supported, so developers can keep using their existing tools and assets. You only need to upgrade when it becomes necessary to use the new features.
Note that many features will not be backwards compatible, so as cool new things get added to Unity 4, it will become more and more likely that you will want to start using that platform. The extend that projects can transition is currently unknown, however, so carefully consider what you need and what you can afford to do without before committing your team to the new version.
Go get it!
While existing developers can find Unity 3.5.5 at unity3d.com, if you have not yet started your project I’d wait until Unity 4 is released, which should be before the end of the year. Then, compare the tools and see what is best for your team.