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10 things I'd like to see in VisionOS 2.0

10 things I'd like to see in VisionOS 2.0
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David Gewirtz/ZDNET

The Apple Vision Pro has been available since February. While it’s an impressive device, it’s also somewhat challenging and annoying to use. Some of that is unavoidable in a first-ever product in a new category, like the weight of the device and the fairly small field of view. But many annoyances can be addressed in the next release of VisionOS.

Also: Stanford’s VR breakthrough could spell the end of clunky headsets

Apple traditionally announces new operating system features at WWDC in June and releases them with their new products in the fall. While I’d be hard-pressed to believe that a new Vision Pro is coming out this soon, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that we’re going to see a substantial update of the device’s operating system.

Here are my 10 suggestions for what I’d like to see in VisionOS 2.0.

1. Mouse support

I previously showed how to connect a trackpad and keyboard to the Vision Pro, but noted that there is no mouse support. Trackpads are nice, but many of us prefer to use mice.

I’d like to see Apple introduce full mouse support to the Vision Pro. And, Apple, please don’t limit it to the not-so-Magic Mouse or Magic Mouse 2. Since Apple is still shipping a less-than-optimal mouse design from 2009, only slightly updated way back in 2015, many users have moved on to better models, like the various Logitech devices.

2. Better Bluetooth support for non-Apple devices

You can easily pair your AirPods to the Vision Pro. But when I tried to pair an inexpensive set of non-Apple Bluetooth earbuds to the Vision Pro, I couldn’t get it to work. Those earbuds did, however, work with my iPhone and iPad, so they’re good enough.

But Apple says that “Apple Vision Pro compatibility with third-party Bluetooth devices and accessories isn’t guaranteed.” This needs to change, and I hope Apple addresses the problem in VisionOS 2.0.

3. Keyboard passthrough

Working in any of the virtual environments (I prefer Mount Hood) is great, but the immersive environment occludes my keyboard. The Digital Crown allows users to open the side view of the virtual space, but the center is still blocked.

I’d like the ability to create a passthrough opening that allows me to see the keyboard and the mouse (and I wouldn’t mind one that lets me also see my coffee cup) while in virtual space. Ideally, an AI would be smart enough to recognize my keyboard (even if it’s not Apple branded), but a reasonable first step would be merely allowing users to define passthrough zones by hand in the Vision Pro.

4. Less draconian media restrictions

Apple Vision Pro does not allow any screenshots of entertainment media. Period. Do I want to show you a screenshot of the impressive rhino sanctuary or Parkour immersive videos? Yes. Can I? No. No screenshots, no video. I also can’t mirror any video to the Apple TV from the Vision Pro.

Also: If you have an Apple Vision Pro, Marvel’s ‘What…If?’ is a must download – and it’s free

That precludes using the Vision Pro’s mirror-to-Apple TV feature to help a person trying on the Vision Pro for the first time, because as soon as they drop into an entertainment app, it’s no longer possible to see anything they’re doing. It also precludes family members from watching Apple TV+ together, one on the Vision Pro and the others on the Apple TV.

Look, I get the whole piracy thing. But limiting even a single screenshot is overkill. Apple, please fix this. It makes it much harder to help you sell your products. Shutting down the ability to mirror any Apple TV+ content from the Vision Pro to the Apple TV is baffling. I, for example, subscribe to the Apple One Premier plan, which allows us to use Family Sharing to share among up to five people. So why is Apple blocking this capability on the Vision Pro?

5. More native spatial apps

Apple still ships Books, Calendar, Clock, Home, Maps, Podcasts, Reminders, Shortcuts, Stocks, and Voice Memos in the Compatibility Mode folder. While some of these, like Podcasts, won’t benefit much from spatial conversion, others will. Maps, for example, would be the obvious beneficiary of a spatial upgrade, since the app itself tries to present 3D projections on a 2D screen.

Also: Why I returned my Apple Vision Pro and Meta Quest 3 for these XR glasses

But I also think it might be nice to have some clocks you could actually place in mixed reality or a calendar you could hang on the wall. And where could Books go if the interactive features that are already so great in Books could be extended to a fully 3D world? Oh, the stories we could show and tell!

6. More environments and third-party environments

Apple currently allows just a few fully immersive environments. While the surface of the moon and Mount Hood are nice enough, they get boring after a while. My immersive environment on the Quest 3 is an old mining town. The Quest 3 provides many immersive environments, including inside and outside locations.

I’d love to see more immersive environments for the Vision Pro. There is a category of long-running videos on YouTube called “ambience videos.” They consist of cozy animated scenes with some background music like this serene coffee shop. How nice would it be to set up work virtually in a coffee shop like this, chill, and be productive? I can see a great app market for well-designed third-party ambience environments. Heck, I’d pay a couple of bucks to work in a selection of charming coffee shops!

7. Larger play space boundary

Right now, Apple limits the total physical play space for virtual experiences to a 1.5-meter boundary around the initial position of the wearer’s head. As a person moves closer to the bounds of that boundary, the virtual world recedes and environment passthrough is activated.

For many folks, that roughly 5-foot boundary is plenty. My space doesn’t even come close to that. But many people can use the Vision Pro in a much larger physical space, so it doesn’t make sense to provide such a hard limit.

Also: How to use your Meta Quest in a moving car (as a passenger!)

There’s more flexibility on the Quest 3. Using a fairly dangerous optional setting, the Quest 3 allows the boundary to be completely removed. A safer approach is what this YouTuber does to allow for his entire apartment to be included in his Quest 3 play space.

Maybe, with VisionOS 2.0, Apple will allow for some flexibility in play space boundary size.

8. VR controller support

While I wouldn’t say that the Quest experience beats the Apple Vision Pro experience, some things just work better on the Quest 3. Key to this is the fact that the Quest 3 has controllers, and the Vision Pro relies entirely on hand gestures. It’s time for the Vision Pro to add controller support.

I’ll give you one example. I really enjoy the game Puzzling Places on the Quest 3. But the game on the Vision Pro is much more limited because hand gestures on Vision Pro don’t provide the level of control over the 3D models that the Quest 3 allows.

Also: Who’s afraid of VR? I was – until I tried Meta Quest 3

This situation was also apparent in the Marvel What…If? immersive experience I just explored. I found that the hand gestures, while fun, had some lag. Adam Savage’s Tested experienced the same issues.

Most likely, Apple will someday introduce its own controllers, if only to meet some special purpose large-scale enterprise need. But given that Meta has added support for Apple’s spatial videos to the Quest 3, it seems only fair for Apple to add support for Quest controllers. I haven’t found Quest 3 controllers available separately, but since the Quest 2 is only $199, folks could buy it and get the Quest 2 controllers. Hey, at $199, it’s the same price as a spare Vision Pro battery or Vision Pro carrying case.

9. Better and more accurate hand and eye tracking

While many reviewers have described the Vision Pro’s hand and eye tracking as “magical,” I’ve found eye tracking so difficult I had to replace it with wrist tracking using accessibility mode. As I mentioned above, some hand-tracking latency seems to disrupt game play, and I’ve found that the Vision Pro has difficulty recognizing hand tracking at the very edge or bottom of the visible screen.

This needs to improve, and I hope to see an upgrade in VisionOS 2.0.

10. Find My support

It’s weird, but there’s no Find My app for the Apple Vision Pro. You can’t even download it. It’s just not there. Now, given how important it is to be able to use AirPods with the Vision Pro when around family members, I would think Find My (which regularly helps me find one or the other of my dropped AirPods) would be a necessity. But it’s not available.

Even cooler would be a heads-up display version of Find My that puts an arrow in your field of view as you look for what’s missing.

Bonus: Better personas

Wow, those things are creepy. We need to get them out of the uncanny valley. ‘Nuff said.

Looking forward to VisionOS 2.0

What about you? Have you been using the Vision Pro? What would you like to see in VisionOS 2.0? Let us know in the comments below.

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