Apple Vision Pro on display at WWDC23

Apple’s Vision Pro and the Future of AR and VR Experiences

With the exciting news of Apple launching their Mixed Reality headset, the Vision Pro, a world of new possibilities is opening up for professionals in the realms of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

Alongside their innovative hardware, Apple is set to introduce software updates as well. One noteworthy addition is Safari for spatial computing, which will be integrated into visionOS, Apple’s operating system for the Vision Pro.

Apple’s support for WebXR within Safari on the new headset is promising. However, it is yet to be determined whether this support will extend to the updated versions of Safari on iOS, iPadOS, and Sonoma for desktops and laptops. Moreover, it appears that the initial focus will be on VR rather than AR.

Press and guests surround Apple's Vision Pro

It would be somewhat disappointing if Apple’s WebXR implementation excludes AR and limits its availability to specific devices, as many businesses and organisations prefer using this technology through web browsers rather than app stores.

While VR experiences are predominantly confined to headsets, AR has gained widespread popularity through smartphones. Social media applications like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat have seen tremendous success with their face filters, likely representing the most common form of AR experience for many.

Although WebXR has made some progress on the Android platform, its implementation on iOS remains severely limited. Consequently, for those aiming to create AR experiences, smartphone apps are currently the only viable option, unless they wish to rely solely on social media alternatives.

This limitation is significant. Users are growing weary (over 90% of them) of being compelled to download apps that offer limited functionality. While customers may be willing to download the IKEA AR app to furnish their homes, it is less likely that they would go through the trouble of virtually trying on an outfit when passing by a fashion store window. This is where the web proves to be the ideal solution. Nearly everyone has a web browser on their smartphones, and with the growing acceptance of QR codes, directing users to web experiences has become incredibly convenient.

If properly implemented and supported on Safari for iOS, WebXR could unlock numerous opportunities across various industries and activities, such as arts and culture, fashion, and travel. However, as it stands now and in the foreseeable future, it seems that browser-based AR experiences will remain primarily within the domain of Google’s Android.

It’s an exciting time for AR and VR enthusiasts, and while there may be some limitations, the developments in this field continue to ignite curiosity and foster innovation. The possibilities are vast, and it is exciting to anticipate further advancements and breakthroughs.

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