Last week Apple launched the official visionOS Design Kit for Figma and further bolstered its promise to help creators get up to speed with developing for the new mixed-reality headset. The goal is to side-step the greatest threat to all new tech: launching without killer apps or must-use software.
Apple Vision Pro is due for release in 2024, starting at $3,499 / £3,499, and with this early release of visionOS Apple is gambling that apps already on its App Store will work with the new AR / VR headset. It's a good plan, and Apple has already name-dropped key first- and third-party apps during the headset's reveal at WWDC showcase.
We know all the best Apple apps will run natively at launch, this is Apple's guarantee. So we'll be noodling with Messages, Mail, Safari, Music and Notes in day one. We also saw third-party creators keen to hop into AR and VR with Apple, including Disney+, Adobe Lightroom and Microsoft's core apps, Excel, Word and Teams. This is the good news behind some bad headlines that will put the funny Apple Vision Pro memes to one side and let the tech shine.
Over the next year Apple will roll out visionOS tools for creators, including developer kits, guidelines, and workshops. It means even though many will not yet have a Vision Pro to toy with they can at least begin tailoring their apps for the headset. By releasing the first visionOS design kit for Figma developers can begin creating new UI for existing apps and finessing menus and UX to work beyond the screen of an iPad or Macbook. (Sign up to our UX course.)
On the Figma visionPro site Apple states the "design kit for Figma contains a comprehensive set of UI components, views, system interfaces, text styles, color styles, and materials. All of the core ingredients you need to quickly create highly realistic visionOS app designs."
The new visionPro design kit gives us a glimpse of what it will be like to use Apple's new headset, and it's getting me just a little more excited about this high-end tech. I also love that Apple is placing apps and how the headset is used ahead of wowing us with pure tech. The emphasis on software so early ahead of launch is heartening. (Read our guide to the best Apple products ever.)
At WWDC Apple already confirmed that Unity apps and games will run on Vision Pro from day one, using a unique 'layering' technique to integrate Unity's real time game engine and PolySpatial technology on top of Apple's RealityKit to create AR apps.
I'm always reminded that the best tech can fail if it's not supported by good software, and it's why Sony ensured PSVR 2 had plenty of games and experiences early on. New untested and expensive technology needs a killer app to get us excited, and if you're lacking a singular experience, then offer hundreds, if not thousands.
If Apple can bring Vision Pro enhanced versions of the best Apple apps to its mixed-reality headset at launch, then the high price could be forgotten my many early adopters. Just the idea of Procreate in AR and VR is enough to convince myself it's worth the asking price.