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

Apple used the Vision Pro’s $3,499 price tag to give the headset every advantage over the competition. It has dual 4K displays, runs one of the best laptop chips in the business, and comes with state-of-the-art eye- and hand-tracking technologies. But it also has an advantage 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 is a stark contrast to headsets from the likes of Meta, Valve, PlayStation and HTC, which mostly rely on apps and games developed in Unity or OpenXr. Some competitors like MetaQuest have core applications like Microsoft Office, Xbox Netflix, benefits beyond this are limited. Over the years since Meta’s headset came out, the The Meta Quest Store has only released around 400 games and apps. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but a sign that there’s a serious lack of content optimized for VR.

Unlike other headset ecosystems, Apple promises hundreds of thousands of apps on day one, which it’s able to pull off by working on other platforms. Apple will automatically convert iPad and iPhone apps running on Apple Vision Pro into a “single scalable 2D window” — requiring no work unless developers want to make any changes. For developers looking to build something new for the headset, Apple is making it easier for those already familiar with its ecosystem to create apps for its new mixed reality operating system, visionOS.

“visionOS is no different than iPadOS with ARKit”

“visionOS is no different than iPadOS with ARKit, the augmented reality kit developers have had access to for two years now,” says longtime mobile and web developer Maximiliano Firtman. on the edge. “iOS and iPadOS developers can use their classic UIKit apps, Unity apps or their latest SwiftUI apps for visionOS.”

Frameworks that developers can use to build apps for iOS and iPadOS – SwiftUI, RealityKit, ARKit – “Extended for Spatial Computing” Apple says, allowing developers to create immersive AR and VR experiences for Vision Pro. They can build their apps with tools already available to developers, including Xcode and Unity, as well as Apple’s upcoming tools. Reality music composer Prof This will allow devs to “preview and prepare 3D content” for visionOS apps.

Furtman added that while the visionOS software development kit isn’t out yet, web developers can still “use WebXR for high-speed web applications and web experiences that use Safari on visionOS…because most of the knowledge needed to build apps is already there.”

This means that in addition to Apple’s own applications, we can see A lot The iOS and iPadOS apps move towards Vision Pro at launch.

For developers making the jump, Apple encourages them to expand what their apps can do. A simple port can display an app as a “window” in Vision Pro, creating a floating version of mixed reality. Apps with 3D elements can render content “blocked,” adding depth that can be viewed from all angles. More immersive apps can create “space” that can take up a user’s entire view.

“Apple wants to feature apps that take advantage of new volume and space application paradigms,” said Steve Moser, an iOS developer and editor-in-chief of The Tab Drive., says on the edge. “I imagine developers will want to quickly repackage their existing iOS and iPadOS apps for visionOS so that they can be in the visionOS AppStore on day one and have a chance to be featured by Apple.”

That’s good news for Apple, which hopes to prime its App Store with services that make its headset useful. But the approach is lacking in one area where Apple’s competitors are strong: gaming. When the device comes out early next year, Apple says it will have more than 100 games from its Arcade service, which is a nice perk, but most of these games aren’t made. Specifically This makes a big difference for VR, as users can easily swipe their iPhone or iPad to play an arcade game. Angry Birds Reloaded Or Temple Run game.

After all, people buy Valve Index or MetaQuest 2 so they can access libraries of VR-only games. Hit the saber And Half-Life: Alix. The lack of serious VR titles risks putting the Vision Pro in the same position as the Mac — mainly a productivity device, not a hub for gaming. While Apple is trying to get game developers to put their titles on macOS with a new porting tool, the reality is that most developers don’t prioritize the Mac as a platform. Most gamers use Windows, and until now, Apple hasn’t done well with bringing games from other OSes. (We have yet to see how well these newly ported games actually perform.)

“They’re clearly not paying attention to the current VR ecosystem and game developers like me, but that’s probably the right move in the end.”

Although Apple’s headset doesn’t have some of the most immersive experiences for playing VR games right away Arizona Sunshine And Knife and Sorcery, which is unlikely to make or break the success of the headset. “They seem to nail all the points where the meta is stumbling [the] The last few years, that means UX as a whole,” says Blair Renaud, VR game developer and director of IrisVR. on the edge. “They’re clearly not paying attention to the current VR ecosystem and game developers like me, but that’s probably the right move in the end. We need all the things I’ve mentioned, not just hardware improvements, for the industry to progress.”

Apple’s slow, careful approach to VR is reflected in the device itself. Instead of giving you a somewhat confusing and unfamiliar UI that overwhelms your reality, Vision Pro creates a recognizable set of apps that exist in your real-world environment. Of course, there’s the option of using the digital crown to play full VR, but Apple has left this app mainly for watching movies or playing back videos. You don’t have to worry about getting used to the controls as you can navigate through the device using your eyes and hands.

Based on first impressions of the Vision Pro, the technology is clearly set to succeed. But like most devices out there, apps make up for it. Fortunately for Apple, it’s easier to build on an already established foundation than to create something new.

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