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Apple A-Z » Apple Software



visionOS is Apple's new platform for spatial computing. It powers the software running on Apple Vision Pro and acts as the focal point of Apple's products in the space.

● Spatial computing operating system
● An infinite spatial canvas available in AR and VR modes
● 3D apps and content viewable in windows and spaces
● Apps built with SwiftUI and RealityKit
● iPad and iPhone apps work with little developer intervention
● Eye and hand controls
● Supports physical keyboards, trackpads, and game controllers

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Apple announced Apple Vision Pro during WWDC 2023 and an operating system to go with it — visionOS. It is Apple's first platform built for spatial computing.

Instead of building an isolating VR headset focused on transporting users to other worlds or a set of limited AR glasses that overlays apps on the real world, Apple chose a mixture of both. Primarily, visionOS is a mixed reality operating system that can adapt to the user's needs, be it complete isolation or social-friendly augmented computing.

The Home View acts as the center of the operating system by acting as an app launcher and environment picker. Floating icons and app windows reflect the light in the room and cast shadows.

Apple Vision Pro is Apple's first product to run visionOS, but it won't be the last. Rumors expect it will eventually power a set of AR glasses that's been dubbed Apple Glass.

visionOS: going spatial

visionOS provides users with an infinite canvas to place apps in a 3D space. Apps can appear as 2D windows, include 3D objects called ornaments, or expand to fill a space with an immersive view.


Existing apps like Safari will show up as a 2D window floating in the air, but it has expanding menus and an address bar that floats external to the window. iPad and iPhone apps are constrained to their window boundary similar to viewing the app on a display.

A view within Apple Vision Pro with colorful application icons overlaid on a serene mountain sunset backdrop. The Home View places icons in your space or within an immersive view

The Home View looks like a mix of tvOS and watchOS. Round icons arranged in a grid have a 2.5D effect that appears when interacting or looking at them.

Cameras capture the room around the user and pass that through to the internal displays. With Apple Vision Pro on, the user is able to see a near-perfect representation of the real world with depth.

Objects and windows appear to have a physical presence with placement anchors, shadows, and transparency. ARKit plays a part in developing experiences, but 3D scenes have to be built with SwiftUI and RealityKit.

Gestures and control

Hand gestures, eye tracking, and voice controls enable software manipulation without additional hardware. There is a virtual keyboard, but users can utilize Bluetooth keyboards, the Magic Trackpad, or Universal Control from a Mac for input.

Simple gestures control apps and experiences Simple gestures control apps and experiences

Eye tracking allows users to look at an object they wish to interact with. Selecting or grabbing objects is accomplished with a finger-pinching motion.

Look at a text field, pinch, then speak or type to fill it in. A setting to activate speech to text when looking at the microphone icon is enabled by default.

Objects will understand where the user is and what their hands are doing for further interaction. For example, placing a hand out might allow a virtual butterfly to land on a finger.

Force quitting apps is possible by holding down the Digital Crown and Top Button for a few seconds. Or, if it seems like tracking is off, recalibrate by pressing the Top Button four times in a row.

Double Tap on Apple Watch Double Tap on Apple Watch

Apple seemed to prepare users for Double Tap on Apple Vision Pro by introducing a similar gesture for Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2. When users perform a pinching motion with their thumb and another finger twice, it activates the active button on the Apple Watch.

Double Tap on Apple Watch is possible thanks to advanced algorithms and the S9 SiP processing multiple sensor signals. Apple Vision Pro is able to interpret the gesture using cameras, but Apple Watch might add another element to that control feature in a future update.


Even though the user will have their face obscured by a headset, FaceTime is still possible on Apple Vision Pro. You'll see other participants through floating windows while you'll be presented via a Persona — a digital representation of yourself.

FaceTime is a feature in visionOS FaceTime is a feature in visionOS

A user's persona is created by scanning their face with the Apple Vision Pro cameras. The 3D model looks like the user but has an element of uncanny valley about it since it is fully computer generated.

Up to nine floating windows can be viewed during a FaceTime call. The usual limit of 32 participants is still there, but they won't all be visible.

Spatial Video

Owners of an iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max running iOS 17.2 can record Spatial Video that can be viewed on Apple Vision Pro. It is a 3D video recorded at 1080p and 30Hz.

Capture Spatial Video on iPhone Capture Spatial Video on iPhone

Spatial Video can also be recorded while wearing the Apple Vision Pro. However, that may prove a bit awkward, especially in social environments.

While the resolution and frame rate aren't ideal, they shouldn't create poor experiences on the headset. Future iPhones should be able to record higher quality 3D videos, but what is captured today is sufficient for viewing within Apple Vision Pro.

The 3D effect is possible by using the Main Camera and Ultra Wide Camera to capture optically separated video. When each video is played on a separate display in the headset, the user's eyes will be able to see a 3D video, as long as it was captured correctly.

The Apple TV app also offers 3D movies. Apple says over 150 3D titles were available at launch alongside a handful of 8K fully immersive videos.


Apple Vision Pro has a new kind of biometric security — Optic ID. It scans the user's iris to authenticate logins, purchases, and more.

Optic ID scans the user's iris Optic ID scans the user's iris

Everywhere a person would use Touch ID or Face ID is where Optic ID would work. Like those other biometric systems, iris data is encrypted and stored in the Secure Enclave so that it never leaves the device.

Apple also prevents apps from gaining valuable data from the device's cameras and sensors. While eye tracking and video passthrough occur during app use, it happens in a separate layer that can't be accessed for third-party data collection.

Like on iPhone or iPad, when it's time to authenticate something using Optic ID, the user confirms with a double-press of the Top Button. This prevents accidental authorization just by looking at a payment field.


Apple has paved a clear path for developers to follow when creating apps and content for visionOS. However, developers were limited at launch by only having access via limited in-person sessions or a simulator tool in Xcode.

There were only about 600 native apps available on Vision Pro at launch. With the hardware available for customers and developers alike, more apps will be released for the platform as fast as is reasonable.

SwiftUI is the bedrock of coding for spatial computing. It has 3D-capable tools with support for depth, gestures, effects, and scenes.

RealityKit provides developers with the ability to generate 3D content, animations, and visual effects. It is able to adjust to physical lighting conditions and cast shadows.

Floating windows can be placed anywhere Floating windows can be placed anywhere

ARKit can help an app understand a person's surroundings with things like Plane Estimation and Scene Reconstruction. This gives apps the ability to understand where a physical wall or floor is.

However, apps built with ARKit are not automatically rendered in 3D. In fact, if an AR app built for iPhone is run in visionOS, it'll appear as a 2D plane showing content as if it were on an iPhone.

Even icons get a 2.5D treatment in visionOS Even icons get a 2.5D treatment in visionOS

Developers will have to start over with RealityKit for 3D content. So no, you'll not be catching Pokemon in your living room with full AR experiences just yet, at least not until Nintendo and Niantic develop an app specifically for that.

Note that Apple has avoided using industry-wide terms for its spatial computing platform. The 2D apps are called "windows," the 3D objects are called "volumes," and full environments are called "spaces" in place of terms like AR objects or VR experiences.

visionOS release and its future

Spatial computing is new territory for Apple, and it will take time for the products and software to mature. Apple Vision Pro is just the start in 2024, with a standard Apple Vision model expected in 2026 at a lower price and ultimately AR glasses.

Apple released Apple Vision Pro on February 2 alongside the operating system visionOS.