Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) is over, and while Vision Pro was a big focus with the announcement of its visionOS 2 update, it’s pretty clear Apple’s first mixed reality headset isn’t in a hurry to feature-match other XR headsets at this point, let alone Meta Quest 3. When Apple eventually does step down to the XR playing field with a more consumer-friendly headset though, there are a number of things would-be owners are probably hoping for that have so far gone missing.

A (much) Lower Price

What: This is a pretty obvious one. It’s only been about six months since Vision Pro’s launch in February, and while it’s leaving US exclusivity this month, the $3,500 headset still isn’t accessible enough right now for anyone but developers, prosumers, and only the most ardent of Apple acolytes to really entertain. It needs to be way cheaper for a few reasons beyond being able to sell to more people, which I’ll get more into below.

Image courtesy Apple

Why: Apple is essentially using Vision Pro as an expensive developer kit right now. As a result, the company seems more cautious with how it’s handling Vision Pro in comparison other new product lines, the most analogous being its first generation Apple Watch in 2015, which was initially criticized for being expensive, sluggish, and lacking critical functionality over the iPhones of that era (sound familiar?). But when Apple does launch a new product line, they typically put a tremendous amount of resources and energy behind them—all the more reason to be excited about what’s next.

And when Apple’s next headset does finally approach a price point closer to the rest of their consumer device lineup, people will be expecting a lot more than just productivity apps, a smattering of games, and tight integration with the rest of its mature ecosystem—admittedly one of the biggest, most useful things Apple is bringing to the table.

Mixed & Virtual Reality Games

What: Vision Pro may have over a million iOS apps thanks to getting developers to opt-out rather than opt-in to Vision Pro compatibility, although when you go looking for immersive XR games on the App Store, there aren’t a ton to choose from.

Right now, there are only a handful of mixed and virtual reality games, including Marvel’s What If…? An Immersive StoryDemeo, Job Simulator, Vacation Simulator, LEGO Builders Journey, Puzzling Places, Proton Pulse Vision, Bombaroom, Soul Spire, and a few others—all of them worthy games in their own right, but a far cry from the comparatively massive number of titles available on the Quest platform.

Why: Some of this comes down to developer interest. The headset’s price makes it less attractive as a target platform mainly because it’s seven times the cost of a Quest 3. Less people can buy it, meaning there’s less potential return on investment for porting or creating new XR content, which is already a pretty niche games industry in comparison to traditional console and PC gaming.

It also comes down to Apple’s early insistence that Vision Pro isn’t a gaming console, despite its ability to play immersive content. For now, it’s geared towards productivity, which is reflected not only in the sheer number of office apps, but the integration into the Apple software ecosystem at large, which has historically put gaming in the backseat.

In fact, one thing it won’t be missing soon is the ability to do room-scale VR, thanks to the vision OS 2 update, which ought to free more developers from the standing position-only guardian launched on Vision Pro in February. Still, many of the existing games on other VR platforms need to be tailored to work with the headset’s eye and hand-tracking only approach to input, which leads me to my next point…

Meta Connect 2024 Developer Conference Announced for Late September: What We're Hoping For

Motion Controllers

What: Some games simply don’t work without motion controllers—at least not in the way they were initially designed to. For example, developers like Google’s Owlchemy Labs had to rejigger their critically-acclaimed VR games Job Simulator & Vacation Simulator to make hand-tracking a smooth experience. While this works well for low-stakes object interaction, it’s not for every XR game out there.

Many XR games, such as shooters, simulators, platformers, or fast-paced rhythm games, actually need button input, haptics, and precise, low-latency 6DOF movement to truly work as intended, pushing developers to either search for some way to modify versions of existing titles, or build new content from from the ground-up specifically for Vision Pro; both are more expensive than just having an Apple-built controller that meets the standards of existing controllers.

Quest 3 Touch Controllers | Image courtesy Meta

Why: Apple hasn’t officially given a specific reason why it didn’t include controllers with Vision Pro, but there are a few patently Apple guesses on the table.

Typically, Apple’s design focuses on intuitive and natural user interfaces (i.e. the touch screen), and it’s clear the company has carried that over to Vision Pro with its use of voice input, and both eye and hand-tracking. Bundling controllers, like all concurrent standalones on the market, may have been seen as too much of a departure from this core design philosophy. All you have to do is put it on, and away you go.

A Stylus for XR Creatives

What: For all its impressive capabilities, if you want to paint a picture or design a 3D asset with Vision Pro (without connecting to Mac), you’re essentially finger painting since the headset doesn’t support a dedicated spatially-tracked stylus.

A recent patent had us holding out hope for Apple Pencil support at WWDC 2024, but that wasn’t the case—despite the company releasing a new version of its stylus to go along with the latest iPad Pro.

Logitech MX Ink for Quest | Image courtesy Logitech

Why: Apple hasn’t said as much, but we can see this one likely arriving before the release of standard motion controllers, maybe even as a third-party add-on to the current Vision Pro generation owing to the headset’s prosumer user base.

It makes sense that Apple needs to feeling out why people are using Vision Pro first instead of making rash assumptions. Still, Meta seems to be beating Apple to the punch here with the announcement of the Logitech MX Ink, which is due out in September.

Social Platforms

What: You won’t find many of the popular social XR platforms on Vision Pro, which if it isn’t your thing, probably isn’t that big of a deal.

But for now, the only big name in social XR on the headset is Rec Room, which is only available as a windowed version of the platform (i.e. not mixed or virtual reality). There’s no VRChat, no Roblox, and no BigScreen—currently some of the top social XR platforms out there.

Why: It’s not to say Apple needs those popular third-party platforms to make Vision Pro (or whatever the next one is called) successful in the long-term, but its competitor Meta not only has these, but is also making a big deal out of continuously integrating its own social layer Horizon Worlds closer to the core user experience in addition to making it available across the web for Android, iOS, and PC.

That, and Apple doesn’t really do social platforms, making it pretty unlikely we’ll see its own Horizon Worlds-esque social app in the future. Instead, Apple is leaning heavily on its existing chat ecosystem by integrating FaceTime with its impressively life-like Spatial Personas avatars, which allows Vision Pro users to scan their faces into the headset to create a digital identity that looks and moves like the user.

Apple is notorious about keeping its best features close to its ecosystem, so if it really wants to somehow get into the social XR game beyond FaceTime, you can bet it will be exclusive.

Best Buy App for Vision Pro Lets You Preview Products at Scale in Your Home

All-day Ergonomics

What: Vision Pro isn’t the all-day XR headset we’d hoped for. Like many, it provides around two hours of battery power, and can be plugged in to the wall for extended sessions—no real issues there. While standard, the company has also served up fairly middle of the road ergonomics, so there are some obvious improvements to be made here to transforming it into the ‘computer-on-your-face’ Apple wants it to be.

One of the company’s comfort-forward decisions was to offload its tethered battery for better on-head weight. Often, lighter XR headsets are better for long-term use, but a key area that’s lacking in Vision Pro (and many other headsets) is on-head balance. You can actually get away with heavier headsets when they are balanced closer to your head’s center of mass.

And Vision Pro is pretty front-heavy, requiring long-term users to either use the supplied top strap, or opt for something else, like Apple’s Dual Loop Band ($100), or a third-party alternative, such as Annapro’s ‘Preassure-reducing Comfort Head Strap’ ($36).

Apple Vision Pro | Image courtesy Apple

Why: Much of this can be forgiven since it’s a first-gen device. Interestingly enough though, Apple may be setting future expectations by keeping the headset’s battery off the user’s head, possibly even leading the company to offload compute to a separate device in the future, like a tethered iPhone or dedicated compute puck like Magic Leap 2.

Some of this added front weight comes from premium features Apple just couldn’t go without, namely a brushed metal housing, laminated glass front, and its EyeSight front display, which shows a holographic passthrough of the user’s eyes when in mixed reality mode. All-day use requires all-day comfort, which may put those premium features on the chopping block in Vision Pro’s (hopefully cheaper) follow-up.

Apple’s Patented Slow Convergence: The Big Why

It’s pretty clear by now that Apple does Apple-things, because it’s Apple.

Part of that, as many iPhone users can attest, is due to the company’s tendency to ignore key features on competing platforms, only to introduce them later down the line—almost as if they’ve invented them. It does this most visibly on iPhone, where just now in iOS 18 iPhone users are getting the chance to put icons wherever they want—an Android feature since the introduction of Android 1.5 Cupcake in 2009. Since Apple doesn’t like to appear to play catch-up with other companies, there’s no telling when any of those Vision Pro issues mentioned above will ever be a focus for the company. Apple may go happily along in the prosumer space for next few years, and simply never play the feature-match game your average consumer probably expects.

Admittedly though, we’re still in the early days of what could be the coming ‘Android/iOS’ platform wars of XR. If history is any indication, Apple undoubtedly wants to remain monolithic with its ‘walled garden’ approach to product and software development. Meanwhile, Meta hopes to become the ‘Android of XR’ with the release of its Horizon OS (ex-Quest OS) and Horizon Store (ex-Meta Quest Store) to third parties for the first time, marking a monumental shift in how the company will operate as a more open platform holder—essentially beating Google at its own game.

Convergence does tend to happen eventually though. Scalability requires consumers, so companies hoping to make them happy oftentimes end up making the same decisions over time, including price point, ergonomics, access to popular apps: Just look at the black rectangle in your pocket for proof.

There are a ton of Vision Pro wish list features not mentioned in this article. Let us know in the comments below what you’re missing the most.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 4,000 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Stephen Bard

    Instead of listing 6 things that AVP needs to be mainstream, you might just as well say: AVP still needs ALL the Fundamental VR attributes to be mainstream, and then launch into your very good list. The primary feature that I find missing from your list is a "Good Field of View". I spent years incrementally climbing out of the narrow-FOVs hole with various headsets, and this ridiculously overpriced AVP throws you back down the rabbithole, peering out from the claustrophobic (((swim-mask tunnel))), like headsets obsolete years ago. My favorite VR reviewers say that they wear the AVP without the comfort of the facial interface to try to get a few more FOV degrees. It seems that most of the shortcomings on your list originate from Apple's original design decision to utilize that particular expensive Micro OLED display, which resulted in the narrow FOVs and the motion-latency and motion-blur that made fast-action apps/games problematic. Once proper locomotion games were impractical, the utility/need for motion controllers was moot. Once gaming was impractical, that dangling awkward power-brick-that-weighs-as-much-as-the-headset became less ridiculous.

  • Christian Schildwaechter

    Apple would probably agree. Certainly on price and ergonomics, with AVP mostly an expensive devkit to solve the "users need apps need devs need users" chicken and egg problem. But interestingly also about the lack of games and input options.

    A stylus seems likely with AVP positioned as an XR iPad, and iPad officially supporting mice/trackpads, keyboard and the Apple Pencil. Which is already somewhat 6DoF on iPad Pro (with distance limited hovering tracking), easily translated to a self-tracking AVP stylus (with 3D scanning option in their patent).

    Despite AVP so far ignoring VR, games and motion controllers, Apple certainly cares about gaming, as it generates 66% of all App Store revenue. Touch input used in iOS games also don't translate well to XR, but I still doubt we'll see motion controllers before hand and eye tracking have become the default input in new XR games. Early controller support on iPhone would have made porting games easier, but iOS only got it in iOS 7 (proprietary)/iOS 13 (PS/Xbox), no longer limiting games like RE4/8 or AC Mirage to (still default) touch input, now encouraging more AAA ports (and revenue).

    I'm not so sure regarding the importance of social VR. VRChat fans are some of the most active XR users, but that doesn't translates to lots of hardware/software sales. And Meta only got Horizon Worlds usage up after focussing on gaming (again) and releasing some high profile in-world games, increasing the numbers, but not necessarily the acceptance of social VR itself.

    • Arno van Wingerde

      But it is still wait & see whether Apple's chosen path will be successful here… I can certainly understand the trepidation of Apple's engineers that the current device is "not Apple enough" when it comes to ergonomics and stuff. Apple seriously expects you to work with a brick strapped to your face and a somewhat creepy "see through" screen? Quest expects me to game with it – minus creepy see-through screen -and I am fine with that. But either spending $4000 on an AVP or on a Dual monitor plus laptop combo is a no brainer for most people – the AVP would only come in as an add-on, perhaps a travel device or something like that. It either needs to subsidize its products the way Meta does or offer a serious first-class use case. It this point it does neither, but I appreciate that the AVP is essentially a Devkit, sold to enthusiasts as well.

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        One reason to sell the devkit AVP also to enthusiasts would be to see how people actually use it and how high/low retention is. So there's probably some "wait and see" from Apple too.

        Rumors place the cheaper follow-up at USD 1500/-57% to USD 2500/-29%, still too high with its limited usefulness for the average Apple user compared to an iPhone. They apparently struggle to reduce costs that much without dropping features, but that's partly due to them clearly not subsidizing it. The estimated AVP build costs are USD 1600, making USD 1900 of the USD 3500 retail price margin. So Apple could sell AVP for half the price without losing money on every HMD, instead breaking even like Meta.

        There are of course extra costs like the individual fitting/introduction at the Apple store plus billions spent on R&D. Nevertheless 54% margin on AVP is so much more than Apple's average 40%-44% on top of an already expensive device that I still wonder if the price was raised artificially to lower initial interest due to display production constraints and/or AVP being mostly an unfinished devkit, not yet up to Apple's expectations for consumer hardware.

  • MosBen

    All of this seems pretty straightforward but it just makes me wonder why it's not obvious to everyone. First generation Apple devices are generally for people with a tech addiction, intense Apple fandom, more money than sense, and/or developers. The second or third generation is when the rest of us are expected to take the plunge, and by the time that happens the price will be in a more consumer-friendly space, the functionality and available software will be improved by a couple years of additional development and public beta testing, and the tech will have improved to allow for a better, smoother, more comfortable experience. This is the (Apple) way.

    • ViRGiN

      It's been like half a year of AVP, and to this day there is zero development for it. Nobody has made anything really useful.

      • MosBen

        I mean, Apple has. There's evidently a software update coming soon that will bring with it a variety of improvements. They're also almost certainly working on a follow up device that in part reflects feedback that they've received from the AVP. That device probably doesn't come out until 2025, so there's plenty of time for the things mentioned in the article to improve.

        • ViRGiN

          Apple continues to update their device/os, yes, but i have not seen a single useful thing from 3rd parties, unless you count a Timer App cause there isn’t a built in one…

          • MosBen

            My original point was that like most Apple products the first generation arrives half baked and targeted at a fairly small group of people who give them a bunch of feedback that they use to improve the product for its inevitable second and then third generations. And at some point in that second or third generation it usually becomes something that your average consumer might be interested in. So yes, the fact that they have released and are continuing to release, updates to the device that improve it is part of the process.

          • ViRGiN

            Well, I hope the advancments are faster than Ipad calculator app arriving like a decade later lol

          • Ralf Heindoerfer

            I would be highly interested to understand what you would consider „useful“ on the AVP. Especially beyond games.

          • ViRGiN

            If it’s a spatial computer, I would like full proper Windows integration to start with…
            But given the size and weight of the headset, it’s still not capable of replacing a regular 4k monitor for actual productivity.

  • xyzs

    The first AVP is clearly a high-end prototype.
    When disassembled, it's clear that the integration is not optimal and that the thing could have been much lighter, made much cheaper too, for a much better overall experience.
    The front screen is absolutely useless, it adds to the uncanny instead of lowering the effect, and adds so much complexity and price. A pixelated smiley face made of a few simple LEDs would have been a much better solution.
    The full glass (plastic actually) shell is ugly, useless, too fragile, too complex, too expansive. It should simply be structured like a iPhone 5, with an elegant aluminum frame and shell, classic lenses mounted on it like any iPhone, the end.

    The lack of controllers makes it a dead device that can't even be converted into a luxury gaming platform taking advantage of hundred of already made creations. Complete waste of an opportunity, and for what ? For Apple Arrogance (TM) only.

    But, if the top corporate at Apple in their fart bubble where you make 10k per morning, think that they can make XR a hit with that kind of products, they need to get their salary high reduced for both incompetence and lack of real life vision.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      You are still wrong about EyeSight, which is both light and cheap as a simple OLED plus stamped lenticular lenses, a feature most AVP users want improved, not removed. You are also wrong about the glass front, both necessary for all the sensors and actually adding significant rigidity and strength at very low weight with the curved shape of the high tech glass. It will stay, with issues like high cost and internal pressure from bending causing (rare) fractures reduced through process refinement.

      Future AV(P) will probably address the issues Scott listed, while "but I wanted a VR gaming HMD" wishlists get ignored on AVP with a different use case. EyeSight will improve with brighter/higher resolution OLEDs and get copied on other XR HMDs. While components/frame/complex interior will be reduced/shrunk with better integration/tech/software, the glass will probably grow until AVP looks like large sun glasses

      Motion controller will only get support once game devs by default intelligently integrate hand and eye tracking, instead of only trying to replicate the controllers used so far. Simply to prevent "lazy" ports never investing the time to properly utilize a platform, like many PCVR/PSVR 2 releases designed with Quest in mind never reaching beyond the capabilities of the most limited hardware.

      • xyzs

        Not many people use the AVP among people who are talking to them regularly, needing eye contact absolutely. It's a niche of a niche. Most AVP are used by tech enthusiasts, on their own.

        Also, sunglasses, you know this little accessory you put on your face, that every human being with more than 20 dollars in their bank account bought at least once, that exists for more than a century… with sunglasses, you cannot see the eyes of the person you are talking to, it's never been an issue, nobody ever felt weird having a conversation with someone wearing sunglasses… Apple invented the issue! …to sell you a more expansive and Apple (TM) unique product, and you fell for it.

        • Christian Schildwaechter

          People accept that others wear sunglasses outside, even if this prevents seeing their eyes, because they protect the eyes, something otherwise difficult to achieve. If you wear sunglasses indoors without reason, people will usually consider you a moron.

          And obviously Apple doesn't particularly care about a tiny niche or the few tech enthusiasts that can afford a USD 3500 toy in 2024. They care about a couple of million regular users that will buy a future AVP priced like a high end iPhone, and use it in the living room with other family members present, the same market iPads sell to today. While keeping eye contact via an improved version of EyeSight.

          Turns out you are not only wrong about the technical aspects of EyeSight and the glass covering AVP, but also about the important role of eye contact in human communication. Just google "eye contact communication", you'll find an excessive amount of information on how cruical it is.

          • xyzs

            If you think so…
            I keep thinking the future is making VR glasses small and light enough so that it takes 1 second, to remove them, like glasses, if you wanna talk, I keep thinking that the most important thing is user comfort, meaning low weight, meaning those gimmicks are negative points.
            And if you need interaction, that will be with true AR glasses that you will go, because MR like AVP does is as I said a high-end prototype.
            But let's see what the future does.

    • philingreat

      are you talking from experience that the front screen EyeSight is absolutely useless? Because where I work, people interacting with me using other headsets or the AVP with EyeSight is a huge difference. I can see when they look at me, I can connect with them compared to people using a headset without an outer screen.

  • Andy Prokhorov

    7. Full Steam compatibility.

    • Stephen Bard

      Why do people keep trying to wish the AVP into something it was not designed/optimized to be. Even if someone adapted 3rd party controllers to function "well" with Steam, the motion-latency and motion-blur would make it painful to play, and it has the narrow FOVs of headsets obsolete many years ago. People don't seem to mind those substandard FOVs when doing flat floating productivity apps, but inside games you lose immersion with these goggles FOVs.

      • ApocalypseShadow

        Because, instead of taking something for what it is, they always talk about what it isn't.

        PS VR 2, which does lack more in-house support, has so many features for a console VR headset and controllers, that it nearly blows the other headsets away in features. It just so happens that to get that high quality graphics, Sony stuck with plugging it into the console because wireless would have made it even more expensive and reduced quality over wireless.

        "Nah! It's got a wire." Why do you need a console?" How come it doesn't play stand alone and PC games? Why is it $500?"… Instead of taking it for what it is which a second iteration of Sony's console VR that Nintendo and Microsoft refuse to even try in a higher capacity. At least Sony is trying and taking a risk more than the rest of their console competitors. They could have not released one at all. But what's there is high quality. But these games keep complaining on what it isn't.

        They now wish Apple's headset to play PC games and have motion controllers and have new shooters and social games, etc. When Apple is actually selling an AR device that happens to play VR content. Their whole intention is pushing AR. But the media and the gamers are telling everyone that it should be a VR device. If Apple is successful with their AR intentions, the cellphone will eventually become obsolete. Same content as cellphones with more immersion that doesn't hurt your hand holding something or your neck looking down at a phone. It will be eventually, small lightweight headsets and glasses that does what your phone does and more. That's their goal.

        Some gamers here goal wishes it was something else and pushes VR gaming to the masses. But that's not what Apple is doing. So, they, and the media should frame it as AR that does light VR gaming. End of.

        • Arno van Wingerde

          Point taken… but it is only human to want an optimal VR set: the lightweight if the Bigscreen Beyond, the price and wireless standalone capacities of the Quest, the OLED and haptics of PSVR2, the power and screen of AVP etc. It almost feels like a conspiracy: it almost feels like everybody is dropping the ball somewhere on purpose!

          In reality manufacturers just try to get something useful done with today's technologies – and have to make some heavy compromises, but there nevertheless also seem to be some questionable choices, such as Apple's choice to go entirely without controllers – for now. All of the VR devices are "work in progress".

          Then you get the "if only it could be wireless" "if only it had OLED" "if only it had larger resolution/POV" "if only it was lighter" etc. comments.

      • Andy Prokhorov

        Probably because Apple itself doesn’t know what’s the purpose of AVP.

        • Olle

          I agree with this, AVP may have potential for something but it is heavy and there is no real use case that makes it interesting to buy. This is probably why people want it to have controllers, to add at least one proven use case, that is vr games. When I bought my first smartphone, iPhone 5s, it was primarily to be able to use the map function to navigate in cities. Later it turned out the main use case it provided was to be able to surf the web. These are truly significant use cases. If/when headsets can provide anything like that then a possible revolution can take place. But we aren’t seeing anything like this yet and playing games is not enough for it to go mainstream. In the end, the AR glasses MAY change this, but I doubt it. For one thing, a really useful app should already have been built by now given vr has been a thing for 10+ years but so far no.

    • ViRGiN

      Steam could make sense, but Valve isnt really supporting Apple systems.
      And if you meant SteamVR, then why would they? You should be asking for SteamVR to get on with times and start introducing real features and cooperate on standards.

      • Andy Prokhorov

        SteamVR IS a standard. And every single manufacturer of HMD that is worth mentioning understands that.

        • ViRGiN

          standard of what? for who?
          Every single person who isn’t addicted to one and only store understands that SteamVR is of no interest to any developer, or even Valve themselves.

  • ShaneMcGrath

    Only need 1, Price.
    The hardware isn't bad at all, But not many can afford or want to spend AU$5500 just for a headset.

  • Very much feels like an expensive Devkit. I love it to death but I recommend Quest 3 to gamers without question. However the spatial platform and design sense Apple is bringing is an incredible job. Everyone improves from here!

    • Arno van Wingerde

      "Very much feels like an expensive Devkit".
      Eh…. because it is? A few enthusiasts with a lot of money to burn can also buy it, but it definitely not a consumers' product today.

  • patfish

    Was hoping Apple is the one who can develop meaningful, productive VR Apps with a real advantage over flat apps :( …sadly they have no idea as well.