The Vision Pro’s biggest advantage isn’t Apple hardware

Apple has used the Vision Pro’s $3,499 price tag to give the headset every edge over the competition. It includes two 4K displays, runs one of the best laptop chips in the business, and comes with advanced eye and hand tracking technologies. But it also has one perk that money can’t buy: Apple’s developer ecosystem. Perhaps the biggest advantage of the headset is the ability for iPhone and iPad developers to easily plug their existing apps into the device’s operating system using familiar tools and frameworks.

Already, the system stands in stark contrast to headsets from Meta, Valve, PlayStation and HTC, which often rely on apps and games made in Unity or OpenXR to power virtual and augmented reality experiences. While some competitors, such as Meta Quest, have major applications such as Microsoft Office, Xbox, and NetflixOffers beyond this are limited. In the many years that the Meta headset has been out, it has been The Meta Quest Store has only released about 400 games and apps. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is a sign of a serious lack of content optimized for VR.

Unlike other headphone ecosystems, Apple promises hundreds of thousands of apps on day one, a feat it can achieve thanks to work on other platforms. Apple will automatically convert iPad and iPhone apps into a “single scalable 2D window” that runs on Apple Vision Pro — no work required from developers unless they want to make any changes. And for developers who want to create something new for their headsets, Apple is making it easier for those who already know its ecosystem to create apps for VisionOS, its new mixed reality operating system.

“VisionOS isn’t much different from iPadOS with ARKit”

“VisionOS isn’t that different from iPadOS with ARKit, the augmented reality suite developers got their hands on a couple of years ago,” says Maximiliano Firtman, longtime web and mobile developer. the edge. iOS and iPadOS developers will be able to use classic UIKit apps, Unity apps, or their latest SwiftUI apps for VisionOS.

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Frameworks developers can use to build apps for iOS and iPadOS — SwiftUI, RealityKit, ARKit — all “extended for spatial computing.” Apple says, allowing developers to design immersive AR and VR experiences for Vision Pro. They can also build their apps using tools already available to developers, including Xcode and Unity as well as Apple’s upcoming Reality Composer Pro This should allow developers to “preview and prepare 3D content” for VisionOS applications.

Firtman adds that although the VisionOS SDK has yet to be released, web developers can still use “WebXR for immersive web apps and web experiences using Safari on VisionOS…as most of the knowledge needed to build apps is already there.”

This means that in addition to the original Apple applications, we will most likely see a lot Many iOS and iPadOS apps are making their way to the Vision Pro at launch.

For developers who make the leap, Apple encourages them to expand what their apps can do. A simple port might display an app on Vision Pro as a “window,” creating a floating version in mixed reality. Apps with 3D elements may present the content as “volume” adding depth that can be viewed from all angles. More extensive applications may create a “space” that can occupy the entire view of the user.

“Apple will want to highlight apps that take advantage of the new Volume and Space app models,” Steve Moser, iOS developer and editor-in-chief of The Tape DriveAnd Tells the edge. “I imagine developers will want to repackage their existing iOS and iPadOS apps for VisionOS so that they’ll be on the VisionOS App Store on day one and potentially get a chance to be featured by Apple.”

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This is good news for Apple, which is looking to provide its App Store with services that make its headset useful. But this approach falls short in one area where Apple’s competitors are strong: gaming. When the device comes out early next year, Apple says it will feature more than 100 games from its Arcade service, which is nice, but most of those games aren’t created yet. especially for virtual reality. This makes a huge difference, as users can easily use their iPhone or iPad to play an Arcade game, instead of just putting on a full headset to play Angry Birds Reloaded or Being.

After all, people buy Valve Index or Meta Quest 2 just so they can access libraries of VR-only games like Saber won And Half-life: Alex. The lack of serious VR titles risks putting the Vision Pro in the same position as the Mac — a machine primarily intended for productivity, not a gaming hub. While Apple is trying to convince game developers to put their titles on macOS with a new porting tool, the truth is that most developers are not prioritizing the Mac as a platform because The majority of gamers use WindowsAnd, so far, Apple hasn’t exactly made it easy to bring over games from other operating systems. (We still have to see how well these newly ported games will perform.)

“Obviously they’re not focused on the current VR ecosystem and game developers like me, but this may be the right move in the end.”

Although the Apple headset may not immediately have some of the engaging experiences that come with playing virtual reality games like Arizona Sunshine And Blade and Magic, it is not likely to lead to the success or failure of the headset. “They seem to be nailing all the spots where Metta was floundering [the] In the past few years, specifically the overall user experience, says Blair Reno, a virtual reality game developer and director of IrisVR. the edge. “Obviously they’re not focused on the current VR ecosystem and game developers like me, but that might ultimately be the right move. For the industry to move forward, we need all the things you mentioned, not just incremental hardware improvements.”

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Apple’s slow and cautious approach to virtual reality is reflected within the device itself. Instead of presenting you with a somewhat noisy and unfamiliar user interface that sweeps away your reality, Vision Pro displays a recognizable set of applications that sit on top of your real-world environment thanks to a video passthrough. Of course, there is an option for full VR playback with the Digital Crown, but Apple left this app primarily for watching movies or replaying videos. You don’t have to worry about getting used to the controllers either, as you can navigate through the device using only your eyes and hands.

Based on first impressions of the Vision Pro, it’s clear that the technology is here to succeed. But like most devices out there, it’s the apps that make it up. Fortunately for Apple, it’s easier to build on an already established foundation than to build one from scratch.

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