Apple is trying to give those who purchase the $3,500 Vision Pro headset as much bang for their buck as possible, even if that means dragging all the apps from its other app ecosystems over to its first mixed reality headset. The company said on Tuesday that the brand-spanking-new Vision Pro App Store will run “hundreds of thousands” of iPadOS and iOS apps.
This comes with the release of the developer beta version of VisionOS coming this fall, which will include the new App Store. Apple is porting over “all”—or really most—of the iPad and iPhone apps directly to the new Vision Pro store. All the apps will appear in their original forms—designed for a flat screen—due to Apple porting all the app frameworks directly over to visionOS. So yes, if you’re truly desperate to get the app “Fart World” to work on your Vision Pro for your true-to-life fart soundboard, you can.
All those apps that can’t work without a feature or peripheral that won’t be available on Apple’s headset will come with a notification the app isn’t compatible. Developers will need to modify their apps to add that Vision Pro functionality, but any navigation app with turn by turn directions or camera-based functions simply won’t work. As App Store developer Steve Troughton-Smith wrote on Mastodon (via CultofMac), if a developer doesn’t want their app to appear on Vision Pro, they need to uncheck a box in their App Store Connect service.
Back in June, Apple opened up access for devs to start working on visionOS apps for “spatial experiences.” The dev kits also showed there was a virtual keyboard and emoji keyboard available inside the system, meaning folks will be able to use text-based apps.
Based on early tests of the product back during WWDC, Apple is already including many of the baseline apps you get on iOS and macOS, including Messages, Books, Mail, and Safari. These will be tuned to the Vision Pro’s controller-less gesture-based controls, but other apps will be operable with the pinching and flicking motions. Still, without developers digging in early, there’s no guarantee all or even most of these hundreds of thousands of apps will run well on Apple’s so-called “spatial computer.”
How many new Vision Pro-centric apps will be available at launch? Steve Sinclair, the senior director of Apple’s product marketing for the Vision Pro, told DigitalTrends that the number of software developer kit downloads exceeded expectations. This was despite Bloomberg’s Apple guru Mark Gurman reporting that the developer labs for Vision Pro set up earlier this year were “under-filled.” We’ll likely see several mixed reality apps hitting the Vision Pro app store on launch, but it’s unclear if non-virtual reality developers have also tried their hands at making more simple apps to fill users’ time.
Third party apps might be a make or break for some customers when Apple finally releases the Vision Pro early in 2024. All the extra time needed to try out Apple’s $3,500 venture into VR and AR has to be worth it in the end. Early adopters will need to set up an appointment to test the device and make sure it fits comfortably with its hefty strap.
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