At WWDC 2023, Apple confirmed that the visionOS SDK (software developer kit) would be available for developers later in June, letting developers get to grips with making apps for the newly-announced Vision Pro ‘Spatial Computing’ headset.
And since it arrived on June 21, we’ve begun to see the early fruits of developers’ labor, with sneak peeks at apps potentially coming to Vision Pro in the future.
If you have a developer account, you can try visionOS for yourself via the SDK - albeit a small 2D software interpretation of using it. But it gives you a good idea already as to how you could use Apple Vision Pro, once it arrives in 2024.
However, using third-party apps isn’t a straightforward affair. You’ll need to download the test app’s source code and compile it for starters. If you just want a quick look at what’s in the works though, read on — I’ve been looking at what developers have been doing with the SDK so far, and it gives a fascinating glimpse into the possibilities offered by the platform.
This would be a straightforward port as you can already use this on an iPad and iPhone to view your photos taken with McCarthy’s Obscura app, but as far as productivity goes, it could be ideal for viewing your images in a spatial environment.
Of course, it’s early days as this post shows, and McCarthy has explained to us in the past how visionOS could benefit their apps in the future, but being able to see these images not long after you’ve taken them, could be an alluring prospect to many.
Every system needs a calculator app - and James Thomson’s take solves this problem for iPad and Apple Watch users. But seeing one on visionOS makes more sense than you'd think.
Seeing PCalc in one of Apple’s premade environments just works. Mainly because, you’ll be using one for educational purposes, business purposes when on a FaceTime call, or even doing your personal finances while watching a movie in the background.
Especially when you factor in its hidden game where you can fire bananas, coins, and even the ability to control a car, it feels perfect for VR. But it leaves me wondering, why isn’t Apple bringing a calculator app to Vision Pro?
When I saw the above image on Mastodon, I had an exciting thought of walking through Apple’s pre-generated Museum environment, looking at a bunch of retro games that I could play with my hands.
As Xcode lets you create any app that’s not beholden to Apple’s App Store guidelines before it’s submitted, developer Riley Testut could easily create a port of his Delta emulator, which can run SEGA Genesis, Nintendo Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 64, and Nintendo DS games on iPhone and iPad through his Delta storefront.
Since talking to Testut in February, it looks as though he's only just getting started as to how the app could work on another platform.
So seeing this on Vision Pro makes me excited about the possibilities of how I could play Mario Kart 64 with others in a spatial environment when the headset finally comes out.
I’ve recently been using Game Track with my new Sony PlayStation 5, and while it’s well-designed, I can see it working even better as I’m wearing Vision Pro, playing Last of Us Part 1, with Game Track displayed beside my LG C2 TV.
It makes sense from an AR perspective, as the app could be aware of how much progress I’m making, and the app could update itself as needed. It’s a short and simple app for what I need it for, but for something like this, and especially for Vision Pro, sometimes that’s all you need.
For those unaware, Broadcasts is a freemium app that allows you to stream audio across Apple’s platforms. Developed by Steve Troughton-Smith, who also made Lights Off from the early days of the App Store, it’s a very useful app to help you tune into radio stations and podcasts for when you need to switch off.
So when I saw his latest work on a version for visionOS, I was immediately sold as an app that makes so much sense for Vision Pro. Working on projects or playing games as Broadcasts does its thing in the background is another alluring thought, especially when you consider how SharePlay could work with this too if you’re collaborating with someone in Freeform.
While it’s still early days, Troughton-Smith looks like he’s onto something special with Broadcasts in visionOS, and when you consider Spatial Audio is baked into Vision Pro it feels like an early home run.
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Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use everyday to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.
Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64 and Daily Star.