Augmented reality (AR) wearables have been growing ever more sophisticated in recent years, with many tech giants launching their own devices. The arms race is very well on. Being one of the most innovative consumer technology companies, Apple released its Apple Vision Pro headset in June 2023. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, introduces Apple Vision Pro as the first milestone in Apple's journey into the mixed reality headset world preceding AR glasses. Prior to the upcoming commercial release, the company has been sending developers kits to major AR software agencies to work with. Let’s explore the steps involved in AR app development and how much it costs to build an Apple Vision Pro application.
What Is the Cost of Building an Apple Vision Pro Application for Meditation?
To give you a rough estimate of the cost of developing an Apple Vision Pro application, we need a sample app to work with. Let’s focus on a fully immersive meditation app built from scratch.
Project assumptions: An immersive meditation application with biofeedback, audio, progress tracking, and stunning visuals.
The AR meditation experience should provide high-quality, customizable 3D environments that can transport users to different calming and inspiring settings. Examples include serene beaches, tranquil forests, or peaceful mountaintops. The level of detail and realism in these environments should be adjustable to suit individual preferences.
The application should include high-quality, spatial audio to provide an immersive soundscape that complements the visual environment. This may include nature sounds, ambient music, or guided meditations recorded in binaural audio to create a sense of presence and depth.
It could be beneficial to include guided meditation sessions led by experienced meditation instructors. These sessions should cater to different experience levels and meditation styles, such as mindfulness, loving-kindness, or body-scan meditations.
The application should allow users to customize their meditation experience, including the environment, audio, meditation type, session length, and even the voice of the meditation guide.
Incorporate AI-driven features that adapt the meditation experience based on the user's preferences, mood, and progress over time. This could include adjustments to the environment, soundscape, or guided meditation content.
Ensure the application is compatible with various headsets, glasses, and platforms, allowing users to access the meditation experience regardless of their device. With the growing AR ecosystem, this point can be tricky to estimate because every device has a different SDK. There are solutions aiming to patch this, e.g., Snapdragon Spaces™ XR Developer Platform, and giving developers tools to build cross-platform AR experiences, such as StickiesXR built by us in collaboration with Snapdragon.
Integrate with biometric sensors (e.g., heart rate, breathing, and skin temperature) to provide real-time feedback on the user's physiological state. This information can help users better understand their stress levels and relaxation progress during meditation sessions.
Allow users to share their meditation experiences, join group meditation sessions, or connect with friends for motivation and support. Social integration can also happen organically via social media channels such as Discord, Twitter, or Facebook.
Offer an easy-to-use dashboard for tracking meditation progress, including session frequency, duration, and improvements in stress levels or focus. This should include visualizations and insights to help users understand their meditation journey.
Designing the application with accessibility in mind, including features such as voice commands, adjustable font sizes, and support for users with visual or hearing impairments. In our internal R&D department, we've built a mobile app for museums that gives people with hearing impairments a better viewing experience.
Steps to Build an Apple Vision Pro App
Depending on the application type and project stage, the exact steps may vary. The below is a short overview of the steps for AR app development from scratch in a lean and MVP-oriented approach.
- Conceptualizing and planning
- Testing with QA
- Launching the MVP
- Analyzing the feedback
- Iterating and improving
- Scaling and expanding
Note: These steps are for an AR app that will be expanded in the future. For event-oriented apps and projects with a short life cycle the path will be somewhat different.
Calculating the Time to Complete Project
The total estimated man-hours for the initial MVP development and launch could range from 640 to 1280 hours. This estimate is based on a simplified version of the application, focusing on the most critical features. It’s important to note that these estimates can vary widely depending on factors such as project complexity, team expertise, and unforeseen challenges.
Calculating the cost for project completion for different geographical regions
With the total estimated man-hours for the initial MVP development and launch ranging from 640 to 1280 hours, let’s calculate the approximate cost based on the location of the development team.
North America — If you choose a team from North America with an average hourly rate of $150, the total cost for your project would range from $96,000 to $192,000.
Asia — With a team in Asia with an average hourly rate of $40, the total cost would range from $25,600 to $51,200.
Western Europe — For a team in Western Europe with an average hourly rate of $150, the total cost would range from $96,000 to $192,000.
Eastern Europe — A team with an average hourly rate of $90 would cost between $57,600 and $115,200.
What to Consider When Building an Apple Vision Pro App?
To understand the cost of building an AR application, we first need to consider the development team required for such a project. An AR development team would typically consist of:
- A project manager
- A UI/UX designer
- A software engineer
- A 3D artist
Note: Depending on the complexity of the application, the number of app developers required could increase.
The cost of developing an AR application also varies depending on the location of the development team.
Average hourly rates for AR developers in different world locations are as follows:
- North America $150-$250
- Asia $40-$70
- Europe $90-$150
To build apps for Vision Pro you can expect to see varying hourly rates, even between the same geographical regions. This is due to the varying levels of seniority. How does that translate into development?
The greater seniority of the AR developer (and team, for that matter), the higher chances of timely releases even with innovative and highly creative projects. An experienced team can anticipate problems and avoid them. Similarly, an experienced augmented reality development team knows how to create augmented reality experiences for different contexts, which helps cut down on delivery times and ensure the AR experience meets user needs. AR applications also require user-focused interaction methods that elevate the experience.
If you already have an app with similar functionality (for example, on Apple Watch or iPhone), you can always port it to Apple Vision Pro with an upgrade of different features. Porting an app to Apple Vision Pro helps release your app faster into the market and pin point possible UX improvements for an augmented reality headset. Depending on the level of details in graphics and sophistication of animations, the process can be complex and involve multiple technologies such as Unity or Flutter.
Additional Costs in Apple Vision Pro App Development
The cost of developing an Apple Vision Pro app can also be influenced by factors beyond development team rates. These may include licensing fees for third-party tools, SDKs, or APIs used in the app, as well as ongoing costs for maintenance, updates, and support. For example, to distribute applications on App Store or other Apple platforms, organizations or single-person businesses have to be authorized developers, which they become by purchasing an Apple developer program $99/year license. Be sure to factor in these additional costs when estimating the total investment required for your project.
When building for Apple's headset, remember to have your target audience tightly narrowed down first. It might turn out that, instead of Apple Vision Pro, your product would fit better in the Meta Quest 3 ecosystem, which is more than half the price compared to Apple Vision Pro, plus the headset is more widely available. Regardless which device you choose, be sure to pick a reputable software agency to help you create the application and deliver amazing spatial experiences.
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