visionOS will power the Apple Vision Pro headset — here are the first official details

Vision Pro hardware
(Image credit: Apple)

With WWDC 23 in full swing, Apple is coming at us thick and fast with the new stuff. We've already seen the Apple Vision Pro headset itself, but now we're getting a glimpse of the new software at its core – visionOS.

It looks a bit like iOS, it's got a whole new job and format to power, and it's finally got an official name. But just what is new with Apple's latest piece of new software that's powering one of its most exciting new products in years? Here's what we know from the WWDC keynote.

Apple's VR OS showcased

Vision Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's visionOS has a lot to power. There are the twin screens of the VR goggles themselves, both the AR and the VR modes, as well as the user interface to make sure that you'll be able to navigate your fancy new Apple VR headset.

We know now that it's going to look a lot like iOS and iPadOS – obviously, this is going to make getting used to Apple VR a whole lot easier, as there are recognizable icons and apps. Of those recognizable apps are going to be some useful ones, such as messaging, callings, Safari, and more. They look a lot, again, like their iOS counterparts, albeit floating in front of your face.

There are going to be two parts of the OS as well – the AR portion, which overlays on the real world, and VR, which will make its own virtual world. The two will be switchable with a little dial on the side of the headset, seamlessly transferring between the two.

Some of the coolest bits are in AR, such as the virtual workspace – we knew this was going to be a focus of the device, but it's nice to see it confirmed. That will let you run a virtual desktop of sorts, and use the headset with your Mac in a very cool setup that puts your macOS interface into an AR world.

VR has been shown mostly around games and some other productivity apps. But Apple also says that it's going to allow developers to make their own apps. They'll be offered via a special new version of the App Store alongside existing apps that are compatible with Vision Pro. Microsoft's apps are already on their way, while Apple's own apps will give people a great starting point.

Apple has so far made a big deal about what Vision Pro will be capable of in terms of productivity and entertainment, including a slew of Apple Arcade games. Apple also says that it will share more details about how developers can bring their own apps to visionOS in the future, something that will surely have a big impact on how well the Vision Pro headset is received.

We're covering all the WWDC 2023 announcements live and as they happen. Don't miss all our Apple VR, iOS 17, macOS 14, iPadOS 17, and watchOS 10 news so far.

Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.