A growing number of streaming giants announced they aren’t supporting Apple Vision Pro, with YouTube and Spotify now joining Netflix to neither build a dedicated app, nor allow the iPad version of their apps on the upcoming mixed reality device. Is it a lack of confidence in Apple’s headset? An opening move in a coming XR platform war? We can’t say for sure.
Update (January 19th, 2024): According to a new Bloomberg report, both Google and Spotify announced their respective video and music streaming services aren’t planning to launch dedicated apps for Apple Vision Pro, or what the company is calling a ‘spatial computer’.
Joining Netflix, both YouTube and Spotify are also not allowing their iPad apps to work on the device, leaving users to interact with those services over the headset’s web browser. It’s also not clear at this time whether Meta will also allow its apps on the headset.
None of the streaming giants have explained exactly why they aren’t building dedicated apps or simply allowing their iPad apps to work, however there are a few possibilities.
At first, the device’s reach is likely set to be fairly limited, with reports indicating that less than 100,000 units of the very pricey headset will be available at launch. The companies may be adopting a wait-and-see approach before offering support, as the $3,500 headset will no doubt straddle the prosumer and developer kit segment for some time until a prospective cheaper device comes to market.
Notably, none of the providers have announced full-throated support for any specific brand of XR headset; Meta Quest does have both a dedicated YouTube and Netflix app, but those companies haven’t thrown their chips in wholesale with Meta based on the low frequency of app updates—in Netflix’s case, it’s actually never seen an update on Quest beyond 2019. Conversely, Spotify has also never released an app for Quest, although it did release one for AR headset Magic Leap 1 back in 2018.
While it isn’t clear whether platform war lines are actually being drawn, Google, Samsung and Qualcomm have partnered on an XR headset which hopes to compete with Apple, so we may need to see things unfold before truly understanding just why some of the biggest names in media streaming aren’t supporting Apple’s latest hardware. Whatever the case, these are all direct rivals in their respective streaming areas, so we’ll just have to wait and see why.
The original article announcing Netflix’s lack of Vision Pro support follows below:
Original Article (January 18th, 2024): According to a Bloomberg report, Netflix isn’t launching an app on Vision Pro, instead offering its streaming service through the web. This marks a reversal of its initial intention to allow the iPad version to run on Vision Pro.
Here’s the statement Netflix left with Bloomberg:
Our members will be able to enjoy Netflix on the web browser on the Vision Pro, similar to how our members can enjoy Netflix on Macs.
While Apple hasn’t commented on the Netflix snub, it has made a point of heavily featuring rival platform Disney+ and its own Apple TV+ service in pre-launch coverage, which may explain why Netflix isn’t jumping at the chance.
Notably, at launch Vision Pro will also feature bespoke apps for ESPN+, NBA, MLB, PGA Tour, Max, Discovery+, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, Peacock, Pluto TV, Tubi, Fubo, Crunchyroll, Red Bull TV, Imax, TikTok and Mubi.
This isn’t the first time Netflix has snubbed XR users though. The company offers an app on Quest, however it’s largely unchanged since it was released on the original Quest in 2019.
Still, it’s an odd decision considering Apple prides itself on Vision Pro’s mixed reality passthrough capabilities, which would mean Netflix wouldn’t necessarily need to develop entire virtual environments for the headset, instead offering an app as a floating window.
Why all the hub-bub? Apple Vision Pro is due to go on pre-sale on Friday, January 19th, and ship on February 2nd, which will put the $3,500 headset to the ultimate test to see whether people actually use it to view casual streaming content despite what some hands-on reports have insinuated as being too heavy for long viewing sessions. We’ve already had a preview (and may get another before launch), so check out our coverage below for our first impressions.