15 min read


Apple Vision Pro Development: Comprehensive Guide for Developers


Since Apple launched its decade-awaited Vision Pro device and an era of spatial computing at the WDC event in June 2023 started, people have been eagerly waiting to try this innovative technology.

By providing a highly-expected platform for customer engagement, Apple Inc. urged the development of apps for Apple Vision Pro and AR/VR. In this article, we will explore the new platform’s functionality, app development requirements, OS updates, and its place in the Apple Vision Pro ecosystem.


Apple Vision Pro: Quick overview

What is Vision Pro? Apple Vision Pro, a mixed-reality headset blending augmented and virtual reality, was released in early 2024 at a price of $3,499. It promises features and applications that make this investment worthwhile. Unlike traditional VR devices, the Apple Vision Pro integrates both AR and VR functionalities seamlessly.

Apple refers to the headset and its operating system as spatial computing, effectively combining vision pro software with the user's environment through video passthrough. Unlike typical goggles or glasses, the Vision Pro covers the user's eyes fully. However, its high-definition cameras transmit a 3D video of the surroundings onto ultra-sharp displays.

This new-age Vision Pro takes out vision apps and digital content from mobile screens and lets you interact amazingly with apps in physical spaces. It is not a distant future technology, it is already being used here and now. And if we want to be one step ahead, then we must be ready to adapt it to the development market.


Apple Vision Pro in Use

Until now, AR/VR headsets have primarily served entertainment and gaming purposes with a market value of around USD 32.5 billion in 2024 and planned growth of USD 77.5 billion by 2028.

Apple Vision Pro's appearance contributed to these statistics' undeniable growth. In just the first 10 pre-order days, Apple sold more than 200,000 of its expensive Vision Pro AR headsets. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in his newest report says that they expect to sell between 400,000 and 450,000 Vision Pro units in 2024.

Apple Vision Pro has opened new possibilities across various industries, presenting a range of impactful use cases for businesses and users alike. Below, explore some of the use cases of Apple Vision Pro:

          - Interactive product demonstrations using augmented reality empower manufacturers to showcase product prototypes, granting customers the opportunity to preview future offerings or purchase existing ones.
          - Revolutionizing education and training these learning tools dissolve the boundaries separating theory and practice, enabling life like simulations.
          - Telemedicine and Healthcare Advancements involve healthcare professionals utilizing the high-quality video capabilities of Vision Pro for remote consultations, diagnostics, and patient care.
          - In the realm of real estate and construction visualization, Vision Pro facilitates intricate visualizations of construction projects, providing clients with comprehensive views of future perspectives and design options.
          - Innovative marketing campaigns leverage AR-enabled advertising to explore fresh avenues for virtual product trials and engaging brand interactions.
          - The headset might also introduce new business models in the entertainment sector by providing immersive experiences to visitors at museums, historical sites, or live events.

Meta Quest 3 vs. Apple Vision Pro

As the competition intensifies in the Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality market, there's mounting anticipation regarding which tech giant will deliver the ultimate experience.

In the arena, you can see PlayStation VR2 with great controls with haptic feedback, Viture Pro XR Glasses with lightweight, comfortable, and premium design, HTC Vive XR Elite with massive 110-degree FOV. However, the leaders of this market are well-known Apple Vision Pro and Meta Quest 3 - VR headset developed by Reality Labs, a division of Meta Platforms.

So, let’s compare these innovations and determine which aligns best with your plans to venture into the XR realm.

The Vision Pro impressive displays and seamless multitasking capabilities enhance user experience. Additionally, its eye and hand-tracking functionalities, coupled with features like FaceTime using virtual Persona avatars, can be groundbreaking.

However, for those seeking an affordable option in exploring mixed reality, gaming, and fitness, with work-related advantages, the Quest 3 option might be interesting.

Here's a comparison table to help you understand the difference:

          - The Quest 3's display still presents some fuzziness and distortion. While the 3D video feed is adequate for observing your surroundings and checking messages on the phone or watch, you might need to strain your eyes a bit. On the other hand, the Vision Pro's cameras offer much sharper images and are sufficient for briefly using your phone through the headset.
          - Both Meta and Apple allow apps to overlay onto the real world, but the Quest 3 can only run one app at a time. In contrast, the Vision Pro can handle multitasking with numerous apps simultaneously, giving it a more versatile feel as an office tool.
          - Meta also offers a range of 2D apps, such as Microsoft Office apps, but the Quest's operating system is not integrated into Google's ecosystem. Apps can be opened concurrently across various locations, rendering the operating system much more adaptable than that of the Quest.
          - Meta Quest 3 is great for gaming, while Vision Pro leans more towards entertainment overall. So, if you care most about gaming and you can afford it, go for Meta Quest 3. But if you want a device that's good for lots of different things, Vision Pro is a solid choice.
          - The Quest 3 is particularly well-suited for this compared to its predecessor, thanks to its enhanced displays and wireless connectivity. In contrast, the Vision Pro currently offers only a limited selection of games.

Vision Pro App Development: Key Aspects

About visionOS

In order to understand how to develop Vision Pro, first of all, you need to learn about the visionOS operating system. Custom-designed for spatial computing, it contributes to the development of immersive apps and games that integrate digital elements with the physical world. While it draws from the foundational elements of Apple's established operating systems, visionOS introduces a dedicated "real-time subsystem" tailored specifically for interactive visuals on the Vision Pro.

Architecturally, visionOS shares core components with MacOS and iOS but introduces innovative features such as a three-dimensional interface that allows apps to exist side by side on varying scales, liberating them from traditional display limitations.

At its launch, visionOS will offer a diverse range of applications, including native Unity apps optimized for Vision Pro, Adobe's Lightroom, Microsoft Office suite, medical software for anatomical renders, and an engineering app that visualizes physics phenomena on real-world objects.

In visionOS, users can open windows that function as planes in this virtual space, supporting both traditional 2D views and controls, as well as the integration of 3D content alongside 2D elements. Apps can also create movable three-dimensional volumes containing objects and scenes, allowing for flexible design and interaction.

Here are some key programming tips for Vision OS developer:

About Apple Vision Pro dev kit

Next thing to talk about is technology stack required for Apple Vision Pro development. To make apps for Vision Pro, you'll need a Mac with macOS Monterey or a newer version, the latest Xcode, and the Vision Pro developer kit. You'll use tools like SwiftUI, RealityKit, ARKit, Unity, and Reality Composer Pro.

Let's review the essentials needed for your personalized Apple Vision Pro development kit:

          - SwiftUI, an Apple UI framework, is perfect for Vision Pro apps, offering immersive experiences by superimposing 3D models onto the real world with precise user motion tracking.
          - Xcode, Apple's macOS IDE, is essential for crafting apps across Apple platforms, including Vision Pro. Its array of tools, notably the simulator, facilitates easy app development and testing in a virtual environment.
          - RealityKit, tailored for Vision Pro, is a 3D rendering engine enabling lifelike, interactive 3D content creation. Packed with Vision Pro-specific features like spatial computing and AR support, it's ideal for Vision Pro apps.
          - ARKit, Apple's AR framework, aids in crafting apps overlaying digital content onto reality, perfect for creating immersive experiences ranging from games to educational tools and training simulations.
          - Unity, renowned for visually stunning games, is also excellent for Vision Pro game development. With support for spatial computing and AR, Unity offers vast potential for Vision Pro experiences.

About Design Updates

Alongside its technical specifications, VisionOS introduces a unique interface concept with volumes and windows floating in space, departing from the traditional desktop and home screen paradigms of Mac OS X and iOS, respectively. Let's explore these UI elements:

          1. Windows: Like in conventional computing environments, windows in VisionOS provide the main interface for interacting with applications. These SwiftUI windows maintain a familiar structure for users accustomed to Apple's mobile OS, ensuring a smooth transition. They can display text, buttons, and even 3D objects like the Tango Ball, offering a versatile user experience.
          2. Volumes: Representing a significant shift in UI design, volumes showcase 3D content essential for immersive AR experiences. Developers can leverage RealityKit or Unity to create these volumes, opening up possibilities for interactive, 3D-rich applications. Volumes can be bounded, residing within a window, or unbounded, overlaying the physical world as digital objects, enabling unique experiences like playing soccer in the kitchen.
          3. Spaces: Introducing a novel approach to multitasking, Spaces come in two primary types. Shared Spaces allow multiple apps to coexist, akin to multiple windows on a Mac desktop. Full Spaces focus on a single app, incorporating windows, volumes, and even portals to different virtual worlds for immersive experiences. These spaces offer flexibility and organization in navigating through VisionOS applications.

To make 3D stuff look really good in apps and games on visionOS, developers can use a new tool called Reality Composer Pro. It helps them get 3D models, animations, pictures and sounds ready to make the experience awesome on Vision Pro.

Also, developers can try out their apps in a pretend version of visionOS called the visionOS simulator. They can test how their apps look in different rooms and lighting.


Apple Ecosystem

The appeal of the Apple Vision Pro lies in its ecosystem, which seamlessly integrates with existing Apple products and services. This integration encompasses:

          1. Built-in Apps and Continuity: Users benefit from a variety of pre-installed apps and the convenience of continuity across other Apple devices, enhancing both productivity and entertainment experiences.
          2. Mac Virtual Display: This feature allows the Vision Pro to connect to a Mac, transforming it into a large virtual display for a more expansive workspace.
          3. App Compatibility: Initially supporting 600 specially curated apps and millions of iPad apps, the Vision Pro promises a diverse and rich application ecosystem.

Additionally, the Vision Pro's user interface is tailored to enhance the spatial computing experience, featuring: Home View, Apps View, People View, and Environments View. These views enable users to manage apps, stay connected with contacts, and customize their spatial environment with three-dimensional scenes, all accessible from a central Control Center.

This comprehensive support and ongoing development of capabilities underscore Vision Pro's versatility and innovation within the spatial computing domain.


Costs for Vision apps and Apple Vision Pro development

After you have decided to engage in the development of the Apple Vision Pro solution, you need to calculate the time and cost of the project.

Making the first version of the product and getting it out there could take anywhere from 640 to 1280 hours of work with total VR/ AR app development costs between $10,000 and $200,000. But these numbers can change a lot depending on how complicated the project is, how skilled the team is, the location of your development team, and if any unexpected problems pop up.