Together with the second beta of iOS 17, Apple this week released the very first beta visionOS, giving developers who weren’t lucky enough to try Vision Pro at WWDC their first glimpse of the corporate’s mixed-reality vision of the long run. (Without wishing to repeat the F word too often, Apple describes the software as its “first spatial operating system.”) You don’t need an actual Vision Pro headset to explore the software, which is fortunate since they won’t go on sale until sometime next 12 months. You simply need the newest Xcode beta.
It’s still early days, but just a few interesting titbits have emerged already. For example, there are several Environments present within the beta, which will be used to shut out the skin world by turning the headset’s Digital Crown. “Environments allow you to transform the space around you, so apps can extend beyond the scale of your room,” Apple says on its website. “Select from a number of beautiful landscapes, or magically replace your ceiling with a transparent, open sky.”
There are 13 Environments up to now, starting from the beach to the moon and including several generic locations: the beach, moon, sky, white sands, and winter, fall, summer, and spring light. Moreover, there are several real-world views:
Haleakala National Park in Maui, HawaiiJoshua Tree National Park in Southern CaliforniaLake Vrangla in Drammen, Buskerud, NorwayMt Hood National Forest in OregonYosemite National Park in California
As noted by Macrumors, there’s also a Visual Search feature that permits the wearer to interact with items and text on the earth, and translate text between greater than a dozen languages. That’s more of a real-world AR feature than Apple demoed, so it’s possible Vision Pro has more functionality by the point it arrives in customers’ hands next 12 months.
Apple has also outlined just a few app categories that don’t fit on visionOS, including movement-based apps that follow location changes or offer turn-by-turn directions or navigation, and photography apps, despite Vision Pro having a dozen cameras on board.
As fascinating because it is, the beta (official name visionOS 1.0 Developer Beta) isn’t intended for using members of the general public. Because the name suggests, it’s for app developers to work on. Devs can download the software development kit, and browse about a few of visionOS’s features, on Apple’s developer portal. It’s doubtful Apple has a public beta before visionOS 2.0 arrives.