Apple’s Vision Pro is on its way soon, and early enthusiasts will be curious to find out what they can do with this stimulating new spatial computer. With a robust Apple M2 processor, immersive 4K-per-eye displays, and numerous cameras for tracking your eyes and hands, there’s infinite space for viewing and interacting with screens and 3D content.
In the final analysis, it will always be the applications that showcase the capabilities of a device like the Vision Pro. Although we do not have a complete list yet, I have put together a list of the applications that Apple includes with the Vision Pro as well as some third-party applications that will soon be accessible.
Preinstalled Vision Pro applications
Similar to any Apple device, you’ll get several system applications optimized particularly for your Vision Pro. You can browse the internet on Safari with multiple large virtual screens, making it difficult to return to your MacBook or even with a Pro Display XDR connected.
You’ll receive Apple Mail, Messages, and FaceTime to keep in contact with people while you’re wearing the Vision Pro. You can organize your life with Freeform, Notes, and Files. Media is accessible in the Photos, Music, and TV applications.
Apple includes the Encounter Dinosaurs application to give you an immediate sense of the impact of immersive 3D experiences. Mindfulness is another experience that surrounds you with color and motion, an excellent example of upgrading 2D applications to take advantage of depth.
Naturally, you can discover more applications in the visionOS App Store, which is currently only viewable from the Vision Pro. Apple has an App Store Preview website for iOS and iPadOS applications, which is a convenient way to check out what’s new without using an Apple device.
It may take a year or two before Apple launches a similar App Store Preview website for the Vision Pro. At present, the selection will be restricted compared to the almost limitless selection of iPhone applications.
It’s important to note that the Vision Pro has the capability to run most iPhone and iPad applications. However, that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to install every application you own. I’ll discuss that more below.
To personalize visionOS and Vision Pro applications, you can use the familiar Settings application. There will be options to adjust the appearance, preferences, and permissions to make the Vision Pro suit your preferences.
According to MacRumors, Apple preinstalls some applications not specifically designed for the Vision Pro, such as Books, Calendar, Maps, News, Podcasts, Reminders, Shortcuts, Stocks, and Voice Memos.
It would be enjoyable to see Maps in an immersive view or fly through a city or neighborhood with Look Around, but these applications will behave like iPad applications and appear in 2D windows.
MacRumors also noted that the Keynote application is preinstalled and optimized for the Vision Pro, while the more popular iWork applications like Pages and Numbers are not.
Vision Pro App Store applications
Apple listed a handful of productivity applications that will be available in the App Store for the Vision Pro. Most notable are a couple of applications used by millions of people for work. Microsoft 365 can handle most of your office document needs, and Slack is a popular messaging application.
Only two other productivity applications were mentioned besides those that were preinstalled. Fantastical is a calendar and task application to organize your workflow. JigSpace is an AR application that lets you create and review 3D presentations with exploded views, animated slides, and cutaway images to see inside objects.
Apple said several streaming applications will be ready for the Vision Pro, including Disney+, Max, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, Peacock, Pluto TV, Tubi, and Discovery+. You can watch sports on applications from ESPN, NBA, MLB, PGA Tour, and Fubo. Additional streaming content will be available in applications from Crunchyroll, Red Bull TV, IMAX, TikTok, and MUBI.
Netflix and YouTube won’t have Vision Pro applications, but Safari supports streaming video and should work with any service available on your iPad. Streaming from the browser probably won’t support immersive environments. Disney+ is the only service to offer background scenes that wrap around you while watching videos. Apple mentioned four options: Disney+ Theater, the Scare Floor from Pixar’s Monsters Inc., Marvel’s Avengers Tower, and the cockpit of Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder.
Mark Gurman, who often has inside information on Apple products, shared on X that the visionOS App Store will have over 230 native Vision Pro applications, which will be designed to take advantage of its unique features. Most are focused on an AR experience, including applications from Lowe’s and JCrew. Both retailers have created AR experiences for the iPhone.
So far, about 230 visionOS native apps are ready for release. That’ll likely rise by Feb. 2 – but I doubt significantly. There are new AR heavy apps coming from Lowe’s and JCrew, and the rest are from indie developers or the entertainment + productivity applications Apple has announced.
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) January 21, 2024
According to iMore, the Vision Pro will get Adobe Lightroom for photo editing, Zoom and Cisco Webex for web conferences, a popular iPad calculator PCalc, and Sky Guide for exploring constellations.
Gaming on Vision Pro
Apple said the Vision Pro will have access to more than 250 games on Apple Arcade, which is a good start. But when we’re talking about gaming on the Vision Pro, adding that there will be “brand-new spatial experiences built for visionOS.” The iPhone and iPad have some great games, but you probably expect more than a big-screen Apple Arcade with a Vision Pro that’s capable of putting you in the middle of an entirely new world.
UploadVR said some interesting VR games are coming to the Apple Vision Pro. Most notable are Demeo, a mixed reality D&D-inspired board game with animated pieces, and Just Hoops, which lets you play arcade-style basketball with free throws in your living room or in various environments.
We’d already heard of a few immersive games for the Vision Pro. What The Golf is a miniature golf game you can play without leaving home. Super Fruit Ninja VR allows you to slice fruit like a master, using only your hands.
iPhone and iPad applications on Vision Pro
Apple boasts the Vision Pro is compatible with over a million iPhone and iPad applications. That’s great news and should help early adopters enjoy their purchase despite the lack of native applications.
It’s worth noting Apple made similar claims about the first Macs to launch with Apple Silicon. The lack of native Mac applications was worrying, and Apple couldn’t guarantee the performance and compatibility of Intel applications running through Rosetta. Since Apple Silicon could run iOS and iPadOS applications, that should have eased concerns.
It soon became apparent that many iPhone and iPad applications aren’t available in the Mac App Store, and sideloading isn’t supported. Intel applications run well even on an M1 MacBook Air, so complaints quickly fell away.
However, it’s not easy to move an application designed for one device to a very different platform, even if the code runs on a chip with the same architecture. There’s no touch interface for the Vision Pro, and the motion sensor detects head movement, not hand movement. Plenty of applications will have issues even if they’re available to download. That means Vision Pro owners really need native applications.
Native Vision Pro applications
Developers know that the best and most popular Vision Pro applications will need to be native to the platform with features meant for spatial computing. AR applications that blend graphics with your surroundings show off this new device in all its glory.
Immersive applications featuring content that surrounds the wearer will have a huge impact on people new to VR. The quality possible with the Vision Pro could even surprise people with years of experience using the best VR headsets. That’s important because the “killer application” that makes the Vision Pro a must-have device will arrive at some point in the future, and it won’t exist on a two-dimensional screen.