Naysaying grabs a lot of online eyeballs, so following Apple’s demo of the Apple Vision Pro, the press is flooded with articles that say, “Cool … but where’s the killer app?”
I’ve only seen the product demos shown during the keynote … and I’m not a developer. Even so, after setting myself a 15-minute brainstorming timer, I came up with fifty app ideas for the Apple Vision Pro.
Are some entries in my list similar to existing iPad or Mac apps? Yes. Are some of them derivative of Apple’s demo apps? Yes. Have some been speculated about on Apple- centric podcasts since I first drafted this piece? Yes. Are some of these ideas bizarre? Absolutely.
But, on the Apple Vision Pro, all these apps will sing.
All fifty of my ideas take into account what I think is the essential magic of Apple Vision Pro: it provides the wearer with window on deeply personal, first-person experiences. Apps that play to this essential nature will make this platform insanely addictive.
So here they are: fifty app ideas, targeting the worlds of education, travel, journaling, performance, introspection, retail, quality of life, and entertainment. Here’s hoping my list inspires some of the developers who can makes these dreams into realities.
Get ready for television shows (particularly sitcoms) designed to be experienced more like plays, with the actors on sets in front of you, performing in a 3D space. (Hmm. If only Apple had a television production pipeline. Oh, wait! They do!)
Purchase pay-per-view, front-row access to events like Broadway plays, Cirque du Soliel performances, concerts, etc. Look around the entire venue, and see and hear everything clearly. Choose whether or not to hear the audience around you.
Sit inside a 3D visualization of your favorite music, with colors and special effects that pulse and spin and gyrate and cascade all around you.
Play a virtual instrument (drums are easy!) in a ” band simulator” game … or play with friends in an actual virtual band.
Materialize Doctor Who’s TARDIS in your living room … and then step inside it to confirm it’s “bigger on the inside.”
Watch for games that depend on your ability to be observant (watching events unfold, or studying the details of an environment) instead of your ability to move. You’ll “study this room and use the details you can see to solve this murder” or play deeply immersive “choose your own adventure” games that unfold based on your input.
Experience a game or simulator that illustrates how the same incident, when viewed from several different angles, takes on completely different meanings. Perhaps you play a “juror” who experiences re-enactments from multiple points of view, and your perception of the crime changes as a result.
Interact with virtual pets: a variety of furry friends who can either appear in your own world or invite you into theirs.
Play “Balloon Volleyball” with a remote friend, focusing on the balloon and tapping your fingers together to push it toward your friend’s avatar. Or play cards with a shared virtual deck you can deal out onto a table. Or play chess with a shared virtual board.
Sit inside a virtual escape room and solve the puzzle with friends.
Don’t just sit in a passive video experience of a park somewhere. Built your own retreat, with the features (fountains, gardens, flower beds) that you prefer. Surprise yourself with how the garden grows over time.
Play a video game where jumping among six different seats at a table helps you see details that allow you to solve the puzzle.
Play a “Bar Simulator” video game where the beverages make you increasingly tipsy, increasing lag time and unsteadiness until you actually feel queasy and drunk (and vomit).
Explore your mutant powers or practice your Jedi mastery of The Force in an environment where your psychic abilities can move objects, manipulate time, and alter reality. Insert virtual objects into your actual room and manipulate them the same way.
Apps can make extreme, fragile, or endangered destinations accessible to people without increasing the threat to those environments. Imagine sitting on top of the Eiffel Tower, or Empire State Building, or the Burj Khalifa … and just watching the world go by.
You’ll snag a seat in restricted or limited-access locations that allow the viewer to look around. Imagine dropping in on the International Space Station whenever you like and watching the astronauts going about their day.
Visit a virtual theme park (or any of several real ones) where you sit through rides on the ferris wheel, the scary “spook house” ride, the log flumes, etc.
Take train trips on the world’s best routes, sitting in from beginning to end, if you like. All the content that plays so well on Europe’s “slow tv” streams could be produced for this medium.
Sit still in the middle of an extended time lapse and watch the world waver like water around you: in the desert, in the city, in the mountains, in a small town.
Pre-visit (or even drive slowly through) cities and destinations you plan to vacation in, so that you feel at home and find your way around easily while there.
Go on a photo safari in Africa, framing portions of the immersive landscape to snap keepsake photos.
Arts, Education, and News
Attend tutorials and classes with accomplished instructors that feel like one-on-one experiences, with the viewer “sitting at the feet” of the master. Think MasterClass, but with Margaret Atwood sitting in your living room and talking directly to you.
Experience the news first-hand: watching events unfold right in front of you. Think “Two Minutes in a Village in Ukraine” or taking a seat in Congress via CSPAN.
Educate kids about history by giving them a seat at re-enactments of important events.
Sit inside architectural models of spaces that are yet to be built, or recreate historical buildings as they appeared at different points in time.
Read life-size, immersive 3D comics, where you can sit inside each panel and look around.
Visit other planets, with immersive environments based on actual data. We have a ton of 3D images from Mars, and we could use these to tour real worlds we’ll never visit otherwise.
Explore an environment by growing and shrinking while staying in one place. See a landscape as a giant; see the same landscape from the perspective of an ant. Control the perspective with the digital crown or hand gestures.
Direct a virtual orchestra that responds to your every gesture.
By making a high-fidelity 3D recording of yourself, you can finally get a more objective sense of how others see you move, gesture, walk, and talk. It’s the ultimate version of “Record yourself making a speech and critique the details.”
Record conversations with yourself and those you love, so that you can revisit with your past selves at points in the future … or spend a few minutes with someone who has passed away. Imagine a daily journal you record while talking to a 3D recorder. When you watch these on the Apple Vision Pro, Past You will be sitting opposite Present You, talking face to face.
Sit in on your child’s classroom or playground, seeing and hearing what they do in the course of the day. (Alternatively, take a seat at the kennel where you pets stay, watching how the animals interact and are treated.)
Integrate 3D tech with Midjourney or similar machine-learning-based art programs, send audio prompts via voice, and then sit in an immersive environment of your own design.
Imagine a home camera system that lets you sit in your own home while away from it — for security purposes, yes, but also a way to “be home” while in a remote location.
Make telemedicine sessions with therapists and doctors feel more personal and immersive.
Summon a “Red Window” (like the ones in Amsterdam’s red light district) in the privacy of your own home.
Lay out in the sun on the beach without getting sunburned.
Ride a virtual elevator through your own personal memory palace, descending from the present into the past, browsing an immersive gallery of music, memories, photos, videos, and more.
Imagine using a network of well-placed cameras to observe, troubleshoot, and control operations remotely. Sitting in your office, you could be on a factory floor, in a warehouse, etc. anywhere on the planet.
Take real estate home tours that let you sit in each room of a home (or even in the yard or on the patio or balcony), admire details, and, by jumping backward or forward in time, understand how light and ambient sounds change through the course of a day.
Operate a crane or other heavy equipment by remote, with a very clear operator-perspective view of the work.
Sit inside a real-time visualization of obscure data, allowing color and pattern and sound to clue you into mathematical relationships you’d have difficulty detecting in a spreadsheet alone.
Spirituality and Psychology
Attend immersive worship experiences, with cameras broadcasting from houses of worship all over the globe.
Broaden awareness and build empathy by allowing one viewer to experience complex arguments or polarizing incidents from the perspective of both sides.
Consult a Tarot deck — but with each “card” becoming a 3D environment with immersive sound effects. Interpret the reading yourself, moving from room to room (or card to card) as you like, or invite a narrator to guide you.
Desensitize yourself to phobias (i.e., hold spiders in your hand, sit in a dentist’s chair, etc.) or uncomfortable social situations by experiencing them in a safe simulation where you feel greater control.
Experience dream logic while awake, with a dream simulator that pulls sounds, music, and images from your collection and integrates them into your room in subtle ways: a face in the mirror, a transparent ghost in the corner, a car driving by “outside” playing a favorite song, a wall falling away to reveal a forgotten image.
Take “virtual psychedelics” and see your own room transformed with prismatic colors, visual distortions, and enigmatic symbols.
Retail and Fund Raising
Use a virtual “Lazy Susan” in your home to inspect items you intend to buy … or to interact with famous artwork in various museum collections.
Give restaurant guests a virtual preview of dinner, allowing them to sit at a table as various dishes are served. For the price of a coffee or two, give coffee house guests a live booth they can drop into at any time while getting work done.
As a charity, provide potential donors an immersive experience of the cause you’re advocating for.