It won’t be a huge shocker if the bulk of the “over 1 million” apps that Apple says the Vision Pro will launch with are mostly just existing iPad or iPhone versions. But what is a little surprising is that some of Apple’s big first-party apps will be, too, including Podcasts, News, Calendar, and Reminders, according to Mark Gurman’s Power On newsletter for Bloomberg today.
It seems like a bizarre choice for Apple’s big, shiny new platform at first glance. But whether it’s actually a problem may depend on how well the Vision Pro’s gaze-and-tap interface ports to the apps’ touch-first approach. After all, it’s not like the Reminders app needs mind-blowing immersive 3D effects. But part of the appeal of the platform for some folks will be the Vision Pro’s possibilities as a productivity device. If it’s frustrating to use the Calendar app because its main input method doesn’t quite get the job done, that could sour the experience of the $3,500 device a bit.
Gurman’s piece reflects an overall muted Vision Pro app story of late. He writes that developer enthusiasm is low due to factors like Apple’s 30 percent App Store cut, which especially stings for a product that, as he writes, the company may only have made 80,000 units of at launch, making a small pool of users to sell apps to. Also, independent developers who couldn’t get their hands on a Vision Pro developer kit might not want to spend the otherwise high price of entry, which app maker Paul Haddad balked at in a Mastodon post quoted in the Bloomberg story.
Major companies are out, too. Neither YouTube nor Netflix will have a native app for the headset to start, and both opted out of letting their iPad apps run on it. In their case, you can just use their websites through Safari, which could be fine, since both sites support 4K playback using Apple’s browser, at least on the Mac. Maybe you won’t miss the apps on the Vision Pro at all (unless you’re especially excited about being able to sit in a desert to watch Star Wars).
None of this is necessarily an indictment of the Vision Pro as a product without knowing how people will use it. We already saw that with the Apple Watch and Apple TV, neither of which is especially known for having a vibrant app ecosystem, but both of which people seem to like all the same. And like those devices, the headset is a distinct platform from the iPad and iPhone. Even so, the lack of developer enthusiasm isn’t especially encouraging. After all, the Vision Pro will need more than a few cool 3D movie apps to thrive.