Vision Pro developer kits will help devs get their apps ready before launch

vision pro 760x380.jpeg
vision pro 760x380.jpeg
Apple's Vision Pro headset.
Enlarge / Apple’s Vision Pro headset.


Apple’s pitch for its new Vision Pro headset announced yesterday leaned heavily on third-party apps and content—Apple’s app ecosystems are a big competitive advantage for the iPhone and iPad, and the company clearly wants to extend that to its AR headset.

A page on Apple’s developer site outlines what Apple will do between now and Vision Pro’s launch to help developers get their apps ready. Most notably, the company will offer a Vision Pro developer kit, which will be hardware that will “provide the ability to quickly build, iterate, and test on Apple Vision Pro so your app or game will be ready to deliver amazing experiences.” The kits will be available by application only.

Apple typically only offers these kinds of developer kits at major inflection points for its hardware lineup, where there’s a big gap between a product’s announcement and release and where the company wants to make sure that developers can get software done ahead of time. Most recently, this happened during the Apple Silicon transition, where developers could pay $500 to grab a prototype Mac mini with the guts of an iPad Pro inside of it.

Developers had to return those developer kits after actual Apple Silicon Macs had shipped to the public, and there were also restrictions on what developers could share with the public about the device’s performance and interior workings (restrictions that at least a few developers ignored).

The Vision Pro developer kits may also not be fully functional, just as the Apple Silicon Transition Kit didn’t have all of the features of the first Apple Silicon Macs; assume that the Vision Pro developer kit will be focused on delivering the bare minimum that developers will need to test the look and feel of their apps rather than giving an early look at the retail version of the headset.

For those who can’t or don’t want to spring for a Vision Pro dev kit, Apple will also host developer labs in six cities (Cupertino, London, Munich, Shanghai, Singapore, and Tokyo) where the company will offer “direct support” to developers who want to test Vision Pro apps. This service will also be available by application only.

Apple’s simplest and most hands-off option will be a “Vision Pro compatibility evaluation,” where Apple’s App Review team will test and evaluate current iOS and iPadOS apps on Vision Pro. The team will give you “a report on your app or game’s appearance and how it behaves in visionOS.”

Apple says all of these developer services will be “available in July,” though it’s not clear whether the Vision Pro developer kit will actually be ready to ship by then. The initial visionOS SDK will be available in Xcode starting later this month.

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