From www.imore.com

Vision Pro home screen

(Image credit: Future / Apple)

Ever since Apple announced the Vision Pro back in June of 2023, we’ve all been waiting for it to ship. The spatial computing headset is now available for preorder ahead of its February 2 release date, and expectations are very much through the roof. But the hardware is only half of the story — it’s the visionOS software that could prove key to making or breaking a headset that will cost buyers at least $3,499.

Most of us haven’t been able to put visionOS through its paces and while we’ve seen plenty of hands-on reports and Apple’s guided tour video, it’s difficult to really understand what visionOS and the Vision Pro are capable of right now. That will all start to fall into place when more people get to grips with the headset, but we do know at least some things that we can look forward to.

The visionOS story is still being written. But here’s what we know already, and a couple of the things that we’re particularly interested in trying out before we can say whether the Vision Pro really will be the future of computing. Or if it’ll be just another expensive AR/VR heasdet.

visionOS: Features

visionOS: Built-in apps

While you’ll be able to download new apps from the App Store, visionOS will come with some apps preinstalled.

Apple has confirmed that all of the following apps have had a visionOS revamp and will be available when the Vision Pro is powered on.

  • App Store
  • Immersive
  • Files
  • Freeform
  • Keynote
  • Mail
  • Messages
  • Mindfulness
  • Apple Music
  • Notes
  • Photos
  • Safari
  • Settings
  • Tips
  • Apple TV Plus

The following apps will also be preinstalled, but they will not be visionOS apps a such. Instead, they’ll be the iPad versions. They’ll work fine, but don’t expect any new features.

  • Books
  • Calendar
  • Home
  • Maps
  • Apple News
  • Podcasts
  • Reminders
  • Shortcuts
  • Stocks

visionOS: Communication and Media

Spatial video app

(Image credit: Apple)

It’s still so early in the Vision Pro story that we don’t yet know for sure how people are going to use it, but Apple has gone hard on communications and media in its early promotional videos. Even its guided tour leans heavily on those two aspects of visionOS and the software it will run.

FaceTime will of course be built into visionOS and owners of a Vision Pro can place audio and video calls with people who are on Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Placing a call with anyone who has a Vision Pro will see their Persona appear. You’ll see a digital representation of the other person complete with real-time expressions and it’s lightyears ahead of what we’ve seen from companies like Meta — but it’s still some way short of a normal video call.

Photos and videos will look great on the Vision Pro’s dual 4K displays, and Apple has been showing how a panorama captured on an iPhone will wrap around the wearer, making for quite the impression. But Spatial Video is the standout here, allowing people to watch 3D videos recorded on the Vision Pro and iPhone 15 Pro models.

In terms of professional content, Apple has made a big deal out of Disney Plus and 3D movie support, and content of that ilk is sure to be impressive on the Vision Pro. Apple says watching movies and TV shows will be like watching on a 100ft display, creating a truly cinematic experience from your sofa, desk, or even on an airplane.

With Visual Search, the Vision Pro will be able to identify items that you are looking at and tell you about them.

When looking at text, visionOS will allow users to copy and paste printed text from the real world and then use it in their favorite apps while translation will also be available.

Alternatively, text that contains data like a phone number, address, or URL will also become live within visionOS so users can interact with it right from their headset.

visionOS: Travel and Guest modes

The Vision Pro headset will make use of Apple’s Travel and Guest modes, too.

Travel Mode is designed to help stabilize on-screen controls and content while the headset is being worn on a plane, for example, while Guest Mode will give Vision Pro owners a way to let someone else try the headset out out. With Guest Mode enabled people will not be able to access some types of data and features including Apple Pay, passwords, and more.

visionOS: Mac display

The visionOS software can also interact with your Mac, allowing the Vision Pro to display the computer’s desktop in a virtual world. A keyboard and mouse will be supported, turning Vision Pro into a virtual desktop environment for the Mac — perfect for multitasking fans.

visionOS: What we’re looking forward to

Vision Pro spatial photos

(Image credit: Apple)

There’s a lot going on with the visionOS software and of course the Vision Pro headset as a whole, and as we mentioned earlier we won’t know the true capabilities of the pair until more people start putting them through their paces. Vision Pro is the only hardware capable of running visionOS, and running it in a simulator is never quite the same.

Having not spent time with visionOS ourselves, there are a few features and facets that we’re most interested in trying out.

At the top of that list has to be Spatial Video. As anyone with kids will know, being able to capture moments with the phones we have in our pockets is a godsend, but Spatial Video could take that to a whole new level. We can’t wait to experience real 3D videos recorded in our own homes.

It’s also impossible not to be excited about the prospect of 3D movies on a 100ft screen, too. We’re still not sure about taking a family experience and turning it into a personal one, but from a pure technology standpoint, this sounds like a killer feature.

Finally, we’re particularly keen to see what visionOS app developers can come up with. The iPhone’s popularity came about thanks in no small part to the App Store and the Vision Pro will need a solid stable of apps if it is to prove successful. There ar already some great Vision Pro apps in development and we can’t wait to take them for a spin.

visionOS: Expected release date

Apple Vision Pro first impressions

(Image credit: Future / Britta O’Boyle)

The visionOS software will of course be made available alongside the Vision Pro headset on February 2. We can then expect Apple to release minor software updates in the weeks following the hardware’s arrival as it fixes bugs and tweaks features.

visionOS: Compatible devices

In terms of the devices that can run visionOS, there is only one and it’s going to stay that way for some time yet. A future Vision Pro will no doubt ship, and we’re expecting a cheaper model before that as well. But those are years away so for now at least, it’s Vision Pro or nothing for visionOS fans.

iMore offers spot-on advice and guidance from our team of experts, with decades of Apple device experience to lean on. Learn more with iMore!

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to ‘explain’ those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn’t looked back. Since then he’s seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He’s been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

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visionOS: Features, supported devices, and more

The post visionOS: Features, supported devices, and more first appeared on www.imore.com

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