The Vision Pro's most important app is Safari, whether Apple likes it or not

In the days leading up to the launch of the Vision Pro, Apple has heavily promoted some of the applications destined for its spatial computing headset. Download Disney Plus and watch movies from Tatooine! In your face dull and awesome and Microsoft Office! FaceTime with your friends as a floating hologram! But it's increasingly clear that much of the answer to the Vision Pro's early success and the question of what this headset is really for comes from a single app: Safari.

That's right guys. Web browsers are back. And Apple needs them more than ever if this $3,500 Face Computer is to succeed. Embracing the web means threatening the very things that have made Apple so powerful and rich in the mobile era, but first, the open web is Apple's best chance to make its headset a winner. At least so far, because it seems the developers Didn't jump right To develop new applications for Apple's new operating system.

Historically, Apple has been unmatched in its ability to get app makers to keep up with its new stuff. When features are released for iPhones and iPads, a large portion of the App Store supports those features within weeks. But so far, the developers seem to be taking their Vision Pro development slowly. Why varies across the App Store, but there are many good reasons to choose. One, it is a new platform with new UI ideas and usability on a very expensive device. Sure, you can more or less tick a box and port your iPad app over to the Vision Pro, but it won't be to everyone's standards.

The big-picture reason is that Apple and its developers are increasingly at odds. Some high-profile companies — which have announced that they're yet to build apps for the Vision Pro and its VisionOS platform — for Netflix, Spotify, YouTube and others — have vocally taken issue with how Apple operates. App Store. Spotify has been undercutting Apple's 30 percent of in-app purchases for years. Netflix got a sweetheart deal from Apple years ago to share only 15 percent of revenue, but recently Apple TV has refused to participate in the app's discovery feature, and has long since stopped letting you subscribe to Netflix from your iOS device. A few years ago, YouTube also stopped paying subscriptions people bought in the App Store to avoid Apple's commission.

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You'd think that the recent outcome of the Apple / Epic dispute would have made things better, as it should allow developers to link to other places where users can pay for apps. But Apple changed its terms, so developers still have to pay Apple a commission even if someone clicks on a link and subscribes online. Sure, it's 27 percent instead of 30, but that's unlikely to change anyone's mind. The message was clear: If you sell a product through the App Store, Apple will take a cut of it one way or another.

All of these corporate infighting has the potential to completely change the way we use our devices

But what if the App Store is no longer needed to reach Apple users? All of these corporate infighting has the potential to completely change the way we use our devices, starting with the Vision Pro. It's not like you Can not Use Spotify on a headset; Instead of tapping the Spotify app icon, you'll need to go to Spotify.com. The same goes for YouTube, Netflix, and every web app that chooses not to build something native for Vision Pro. And for gamers, do you want to use Xbox Game Pass or play games? Fortnite, you will also need a browser. Over the past decade, we've stopped opening websites and started tapping app icons, but the age of the URL may be coming back.

If you believe that the open web is a good thing and that developers should spend more time on their web applications and less on their own applications, this is a big win for the future of the web. (Disclosure: I believe all of this.) The problem is that this is happening after nearly two decades of mobile platforms systematically degrading and neglecting their browsing experience. You can create home screen bookmarks, which are shortcuts to web apps, but those web apps don't have offline modes, cross-app collaboration, or access to some of your phone's built-in features. Even after all this time, you can't easily enable browser extensions in Mobile Safari or Mobile Chrome. Apple makes it more complicated to sign in to the services you use on the Internet in different apps. Mobile platforms treat browsers like web page viewers, not app platforms, and it shows.

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There's some reason for hope, though: Apple recently added multiple profiles, external webcam support on the iPad, and a few features to Safari that at least show Apple knows Safari exists and is willing to access some native features. . For years I felt like Apple would happily ditch Safari entirely if given the choice; After all, it tightly controls everything about its sites, and the web is a completely uncontrollable place. But the company still seems to be investing in making Safari work. (All the Safari-centric hopelessness pressure helps keep things moving.)

Safari for visionOS comes with some platform-specific features: you can open multiple windows at once and move them around in virtual space. A leaked video Recently a user was shown manipulating a 3D object inside a web page. At WWDC last year, Apple engineers completely redesigned the tab overview for visionOS, and they made some changes so the browser works with both touch and visionOS' core eye-tracking and double-pinching dynamics. As users do wacky things on their headsets, Apple is warning developers to prepare their apps for all kinds of new screen sizes and layouts. The company has also confirmed it It also supports WebXRA protocol for browser-based VR that can be used for some interesting immersive stuff.

Many users often overlook the difference between opening the Spotify app and going to Spotify.com

Rumors have been circulating for a few years that Apple is going to drop the WebKit requirement for developers, meaning other browsers can build on other rendering engines. If that happens, you should be able to run the full version of Chrome or Firefox, including Vision Pro, on your Apple devices. That change, along with an increased focus on progressive web apps (PWAs) — web-based apps that are starting to be more aggressively supported by Android, Windows, and even Apple — can make your headset's browser more powerful practically overnight. . With a good browser and powerful PWAs, many users often don't notice the difference between opening the Spotify app and visiting Spotify.com. This is a win for the entire internet.

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A powerful, deeply integrated desktop-class browser makes Vision Pro useful and powerful from day one. Apple should embrace Safari, allow other desktop-class browsers, and treat Vision Pro as a power user platform. No one has seen enough of Safari for visionOS, though, to know if it's all there — and I'm not sure if Apple wants it. Because the real question for Apple is this: Is it more important, getting Vision Pro off to a good start or protecting the sanctity of its App Store control at all costs? I'm not sure it can have it both ways when Apple tries to make a platform shift to face computers.

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