Apple Vision Pro: A Glimpse into the Future of Computing

In June 2023, Apple unveiled its groundbreaking new product, Apple Vision Pro, a revolutionary mixed reality headset that marks the beginning of a new era in computing. Vision Pro is the culmination of years of research and development, and it promises to transform the way we interact with technology. We are making huge and faster steps into the future with technology. This is both good and bad news for a software development company. It’s not easy to follow the trend and be always ready to develop apps for new devices: we had the phones first, then the watches and now the visors. The bright side is that there is continually new, challenging work to be done!

Types of reality

We hear talking about augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality… but often those who talk or listen about that don’t know the real difference between the types.

Not to be overlooked is the physical reality, i.e. the environment we perceive through our senses every day. This is the objective reality independent of our individual perception.

Virtual reality (VR) is the extreme opposite, a computerized creation that provides users with a fully immersive experience. Through devices like VR headsets, individuals can immerse themselves in digital worlds, opening the door to new frontiers in gaming, entertainment, and training.

Augmented reality (AR) is a middle ground where digital elements are overlaid onto the real world. Smartphones and tablets have become our personal windows to explore AR content through apps and websites. This technology is widely used to provide useful information, directions, and create engaging experiences.

Mixed reality (MR), like augmented reality, combines elements of both realities. In addition, it offers the ability to interact with both the real and virtual worlds. Essentially, mixed reality is an interactive version of augmented reality.

Finally, a term that encompasses all these technologies is extended reality (XR), which refers to a generic term that embraces all the other realities and immersive technologies mentioned so far, paving the way for increasingly engaging experiences.

A Seamless Blend of Digital and Physical Worlds

Being a mixed reality tool, the Apple Vision Pro seamlessly blends digital content with physical surroundings, creating an immersive and interactive experience. It overlays digital elements onto the real-world environment, but to perform this type of operation it needs innovative sensors and CPUs. Let’s take a brief dive into its components:

  • Advanced sensors: it includes LiDAR, cameras, and microphones, that allow it to track movements, recognize objects and people. The sensors allow measuring distance for placing digital elements over the physic environment.
  • Powerful processing: the power is made by a powerful custom-designed chip, the M2, which allows it to handle the demanding tasks of rendering 3D graphics and processing complex sensor data.
  • Seamless integration with Apple ecosystem: Vision Pro seamlessly integrates with Apple’s existing ecosystem of devices, including iPhones, iPads, and Macs. This allows users to easily share content between devices and use Vision Pro to control other Apple products.

Even the design has not been overlooked, like all Apple products it has been meticulously cared to be innovative and in line with previous products at the same time!

Developing Apps for Vision Pro

There are two kinds of software engineers:

  • Engineers who like to pioneer and innovate. They are constantly looking for new technologies and frameworks to use in order to discover new opportunities and experiment.
  • Second kind is software developers who are precisely focused on some particular niche. They are extremely professional in that area and don’t want to be distracted each time a new framework or technology is introduced and advertised.

For sure Apple kept that in mind while engineering the Vision Pro as from the development perspective the Vision Pro is designed to satisfy both of the worlds!

Development SDKs that Apple provides for its headset allow engineers to work with a set of totally new and exciting technologies to interact with the user’s surroundings that was simply not possible before. That is why a lot of people call the Vision Pro the beginning of the era of spatial computing. The AR frameworks Apple included into iOS and iPadOS in recent years were incredibly innovative but after the release of Vision Pro it feels like this was just a rehearsal before a true leap forward.

At the same time the soul of the Vision Pro is the visionOS. This new operating system shares its core frameworks with iOS and iPadOS and it can run apps developed for iPhones and iPads natively in the 3D environment. And that is where another «Wow!» comes as all the software developers have to do in order to run the existing apps on the Vision Pro is just to check one checkbox in the Xcode (tool provided by Apple that allows developing apps for Apple’s operating systems).

Apple Ecosystem

The newly released Vision Pro is a great new member of the well known Apple ecosystem. What it brings to the table is Vision Pro automatically synchronizes all the users data, apps, purchases and settings from their other Apple devices via the iCloud. That makes the setup process extremely simple and fast.

Another great benefit of the Apple ecosystem is the ability of Vision Pro to recognize and interact with other devices made by Apple. For example, if the user wears the Vision Pro and opens his MacBook, the headset recognizes it and the MacBook screen is automatically moved to the Vision Pro in 4K and the user can resize it to be as big as desired! For sure there are many other great integrations to come with the following software updates.

Better safe than sorry

While Apple Vision Pro promises to revolutionize our world with immersive experiences, a recent Stanford study throws a curveball, raising concerns about the potential impact on our cognitive health. The study suggests prolonged use of headsets like Vision Pro could lead to real-world aftereffects like depth perception issues and simulator sickness. 

With spatial computing emerging as Apple’s focal point for wearable technology with passthrough capabilities, the health implications of such advancements remain relatively unexplored.

The dissonance between the virtual and real world might confuse our brains, causing difficulties with tasks like walking or navigating stairs after taking off the headset. Although Vision Pro boasts improved features compared to earlier models, concerns persist about visual distortions, limited field of view, and overall impact on brain development, especially in children. 

While the technology is exciting, it’s crucial to approach it with caution and prioritize responsible usage, taking regular breaks and maintaining awareness of potential risks. As we follow the launch of the Apple Vision Pro, it’s crucial to consider these findings and approach immersive technologies with a mindful perspective.

Remember, the real world is still pretty amazing, and our physical and cognitive well-being should remain a top priority in this brave new era of mixed reality.

The Future of Computing

Apple Vision Pro is more than just a headset; it is a glimpse into the future of computing. With its groundbreaking technology and innovative approach to privacy, it has the potential to transform the way we work, learn, and play.

From a software development company perspective, these innovations are always an opportunity to take part in a new market. But we must always keep ourselves updated so as not to be overtaken by others!