Guide to Building Apple Vision Pro Apps

woman on a couch with apple vision pro headset

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Apple Vision Pro (AVP) is poised to refresh the AR/VR headset market, bringing to the table new forms of user interaction and content consumption. Designed for professionals and casual users, Apple Vision Pro can invigorate investors and set a new course for AR applications and adoption rates, even with its limited initial commercial launch. This guide aims to simplify the process of building an app for Apple Vision Pro, starting from the overview of the AR/VR market to design to vendor selection and cost estimation.

Ideation and Market Research

Augmented reality solutions have been slowly, but steadily, growing in popularity. While we’re nowhere near mainstream adoption the likes of the smartphone era, the increasing sophistication of immersive devices and their gradually decreasing costs might propel AR to mainstream in the coming years.

That said, creating apps for Apple Vision early can help companies attract new audiences and revenue sources. With other top players in the headset and AR glasses market launching and refining their devices, the future of augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality looks increasingly promising.

The state of AR/VR market in 2024

The state of AR/VR market in 2024 is an intriguing blend of steady growth plagued by certain challenges. Globally, the AR/VR software market is valued at approximately USD 32.5 billion, with projections indicating a rise to USD 77.5 billion by 2028, driven by a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 19.0%, partially fueled by the widespread deployment of 5G technology.

Despite these optimistic forecasts, there are areas of concern. During the second quarter of 2023, the AR/VR headset market has seen a decline, with shipments dropping by 44.6% year over year, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of such decline​​. Still, the total AR/VR headset shipments are expected to grow, with an accelerated growth over the 2023-2027 period at a CAGR of 32.6%​​.

As we're working with estimates and analyses, which are bound to differ, other sources provide varying estimates for the overall AR/VR market revenue in 2023, with one placing it at USD 32.1 billion and anticipating an annual growth rate of 13.75% from 2023 to 2027​. These figures underline the market's dynamic nature and the influence of various factors such as technological advancements, consumer adoption rates, and industry investments on its trajectory.

One thing for sure, though, will be the battle between Apple Vision Pro and Meta Quest 3.

apple vision pro and meta quest 3
Meta Quest 3 and Apple Vision Pro

Define your vision within the dynamic realm of AR and VR

Knowing the potential of Apple Vision Pro is the first step to exploring the technology in the context of a product idea. Apple Vision Pro has already been touted a game-changer by many experts in the industry, giving apps and games an entirely new spin. Apple's innovative accessibility features place emphasis on head pose, eye tracking, and gestures.

These new ways of interaction are particularly appealing to companies that want to pursue both professional and entertainment uses for Apple Vision Pro. Developers can create custom gestures or use standard system gestures to build unique products.

Creators interested in exploring these exciting user interaction methods in augmented reality and virtual reality on Apple Vision Pro still have some time to start building their applications and be one of the first movers on the Apple Vision Pro, once the device becomes commercially available in early 2024. The range of features and functionalities available for implementation in Apple Vision Pro applications is vast and lets developers create apps in a comfortable Apple's integrated development environment.

The potential impact of Apple Vision Pro on business

Apple Vision Pro brings new possibilities for businesses. The company’s take on AR and VR technology can improve communication, aiding interactions among teams, clients, and partners. Virtual meetings via Apple Vision Pro could enhance collaboration, especially among remote teams. In retail, the headset can offer interactive product information and virtual try-ons, aiming to enrich shopping experiences.

In sectors like manufacturing, construction, and healthcare, the real-time information and virtual assistance provided by Apple Vision Pro could aid tasks such as viewing schematics or receiving instructions. 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.

Moreover, the data visualization capabilities of Apple Vision Pro can transform complex data into 3D models, aiding decision-making in industries like finance and logistics. In supply chain management, visual cues from Apple Vision Pro could improve inventory management, aiming for quicker operations and fewer errors. The variety of possibilities offered by Apple Vision Pro represents a step towards integrating digital technology with business operations, aiming for more engaging and effective business environments.

woman wearing Apple's headset and smiling
Apple Vision Pro has potential to bring AR closer to mainstream adoption, even with limited initial release.

Technical Feasibility and Partner Selection

Technical feasibility and proper partner selection are key steps when building an app for Apple Vision Pro. Technical feasibility workshops help determine if Apple Vision Pro can support your app's requirements. It's wise to review Apple’s documentation and consult with experts to understand the platform's capabilities and limitations.

Choosing a suitable development partner is also important. Look for partners with interesting AR/VR projects completed, especially on Apple platforms. Their expertise can provide valuable insights and help streamline the development process, ensuring your app leverages the features of Apple Vision Pro while following best practices for a user-friendly application.

Experience in developing for iOS can also be useful in a software agency since Apple Vision Pro combines iOS and XR.

Choosing the right technology stack

Selecting the appropriate technology stack for an Apple Vision Pro app is crucial to make informed future decisions regarding scalability, integrations, and component reuse. The technology stack shouldn’t only be compatible with Apple Vision Pro's requirements but also support the envisioned functionality and performance of your app. This decision, often made in collaboration with your development partner, forms the bedrock of your application, impacting its scalability, maintainability, and overall success. Apple's augmented reality framework comes with comprehensive documentation and convenient tools such as Reality Composer Pro, which helps design and view RealityKit content.

apple vision pro headset
Apple Vision Pro

Evaluating Development Strategies

Developing an app for Apple Vision Pro requires a well-thought-out strategy due to the unique capabilities of the platform. Here are some considerations regarding development strategies:

Developing from scratch

Starting from scratch provides a clean slate, allowing every feature to be crafted to leverage the AR capabilities of Apple Vision Pro.

This approach may be resource and time-intensive but ensures that the app is fully optimized for the new platform.

Porting an existing app

Porting an existing app from platforms like iOS Android, or desktop can save time and resources if the original app’s architecture and functionality align well with the AR features.

This is especially valid if you’re porting iOS apps to visionOS apps — a lot of the UI elements can be reused, and application logic, e.g., backend.

At nomtek, we've ported our content summarization application to Apple's headset.

It's essential to evaluate the core functionalities of the existing app and how they would translate into an AR environment.

User interface and user experience considerations are paramount as they could vastly differ in AR compared to traditional platforms.

apple vision pro headset

Cost Estimation

Cost estimation is a vital step when planning to build an app for Apple Vision Pro, with costs varying significantly based on the project scope and development strategy. For instance, creating a meditation app entails various stages from conceptualization to post-launch support, with estimated man-hours ranging from 640 to 1280 for initial MVP development and launch. The geographical location of your development team further influences the cost. A North American team might charge between $96,000 to $192,000, given an average hourly rate of $150, while a team in Asia could significantly lower the cost to a range of $25,600 to $51,200, with an average hourly rate of $40.

Prototype or MVP Development

Prototype development for Apple Vision Pro

A prototype of an Apple Vision Pro app is the perfect sandbox where product managers can test the waters, foresee challenges, and adjust the sails before venturing into deeper developmental waters.

Technological exploration

Prototyping offers a playground to explore the technical landscape of Apple Vision Pro, scrutinize the compatibility of envisioned features, and predict potential technical roadblocks.

Strategic validation

A prototype that showcases the key capabilities of the application can be used to align stakeholders on the app’s vision, offering a clearer picture that’s far more convincing than abstract ideas or a bare-bones pitch.

User interaction assessment

Prototypes can be employed to assess user interactions, gather early feedback on UI/UX, and refine the user journey map. They can also yield plenty of useful information about future design choices, for example, whether to create familiar Windows applications or entirely immersive Spaces.

Cost forecasting

The insights gleaned from prototyping can significantly influence budget estimations, providing a clearer view of the financial landscape.

Risk mitigation

Identifying challenges early on helps in formulating risk mitigation strategies, which is pivotal for both technical and financial planning.

apple vision pro headset on blue screen

MVP development for Apple Vision Pro

Transitioning from a prototype to a minimum viable product (MVP) helps better gauge market reality. The MVP is not just a testbed like a prototype but a market-ready product with core functionalities that reflect the app’s essence, ready to be judged by real users.

Swift market entry

With a quick market entry, an MVP sets the stage for checking user engagement and real-world feedback collection, which is indispensable for iterative development.

Feedback-driven refinement

The MVP serves as a feedback magnet, drawing user opinions that are instrumental in refining features, fixing bugs, and aligning the app with market expectations.

Resource allocation

With a defined scope, the MVP approach aids in better resource allocation, ensuring that time, effort, and finances are invested in developing features that matter the most.

Stakeholder convincing

Launching an MVP can significantly boost stakeholder confidence as it demonstrates a working model of the app in the real market, showcasing not only the technical capabilities but also the market potential.

QA and Testing

Testing and QA are those steps that app creators are often tempted to skip, but time and time again experience has shown that, without proper QA, a number of problems can crop up along the line.

Detecting bugs early is cost-effective and prevents disruptions that can hinder user engagement. Performance optimization is another area where testing is vital. XR applications often demand high responsiveness for real-time interactions. The delivery team has to strategize on which elements should be high quality because they are important to user experience and which can be of lower quality to keep the headset’s performance at an optimal level.

Also, adherence to industry standards and compliance requirements is particularly important in sectors like healthcare or education. So well-tested XR software is likely to receive a better reception in the market, potentially leading to better reviews and a broader user base.

a man wearing Apple Vision Pro headset
QA is crucial to ensure that an AR app meets requirements.

Elements of comprehensive QA and testing

Functional testing is a key step to ensure the software operates as intended. Performance testing follows, evaluating the software’s responsiveness and stability under different conditions. Usability testing is about assessing the software from a user's perspective, checking if it’s intuitive and easy to navigate. Compatibility testing ensures the software performs well across different devices and operating systems.

Bringing Spatial Computing Closer to Users

Building an app for Apple Vision Pro necessitates a meticulous approach grounded in solid market research, technical feasibility, and a well-thought-out development strategy. Selecting a vendor with a robust track record, especially in AR/VR projects on Apple platforms, is crucial as their expertise can significantly streamline the development process and ensure the app leverages the unique features of Apple Vision Pro. Adopting a phased development approach, starting with a prototype to validate the concept, followed by an MVP to test the market, allows for iterative releases that can be refined based on real-world feedback.

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