Apple will opening test labs in six cities around the world in July, dedicated to giving developers the opportunity to experience and develop apps for the Vision Pro, the tech major's first mixed reality headset.
The labs will be opened at Apple's base in Cupertino, California, and in London, Munich, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo, where developers will be able to test their apps on Vision Pro hardware and its visionOS software, the company said.
Development teams will also receive support from Apple engineers and can apply for developer kits to help them build apps and test directly on Vision Pro, it said.
Apple also said it is making available new software tools and technologies for the Vision Pro – the visionOS software development kit – which will help developers design new app experiences across a variety of categories including productivity, design, gaming and more.
“Developers can get started building visionOS apps using the powerful frameworks they already know, and take their development even further with new innovative tools and technologies,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of worldwide developer relations.
“By taking advantage of the space around the user, spatial computing unlocks new opportunities for our developers, and enables them to imagine new ways to help their users connect, be productive, and enjoy new types of entertainment.”
The Vision Pro is the company's first major product launch since the Apple Watch in 2015. It will be available next year and is priced from $3,499.
Apple, which described the technology as its “most ambitious product”, reportedly hopes to sell three million devices in the first year, but industry experts expect fewer than 500,000 to be sold in the first 12 months because of the price.
But they said the company was not focused on the first year’s shipments and was not looking to compete with Facebook’s parent company Meta, Apple's closest competitor in the market.
Apple is looking to create a futuristic product and gradually make it mainstream, according to experts and industry analysts.
“Not only is Apple positioned in a different pricing tier, but the Vision Pro will likely stimulate interest in AR/VR amongst the mainstream population,” Guillaume Chansin, director of display research at industry body Digital Supply Chain Consultants, wrote in a blog post.
“If this is the future of computing, why not start learning now?”
Apple said developers can build new experiences on the Vision Pro by using the same foundational frameworks they are already familiar with from other Apple platforms, including Xcode, SwiftUI, RealityKit, ARKit and TestFlight.
These platforms have been available to developers for several years and have played a key role in the Apple ecosystem, attracting a large number of developers who have helped expand apps and services for users.
Also starting in July, developers who have been building 3D apps and games with tools from Unity – a widely-used cross-platform game engine – can port those apps to the Vision Pro.
“Apple sees the Vision Pro as a new type of computing device, as opposed to a gaming console … by offering support for Unity-based games, it is clear that Apple wants developers to start building VR games for the Vision Pro,” Mr Chansin said.