As the real and virtual worlds continue to converge, Apple has introduced Vision Pro, a device designed to deliver immersive mixed-reality experiences. Vision Pro enables endless possibilities for exploring human-to-system interactions and spatial dynamics. Users can interact with the digital world more naturally using the mixed-reality headset. It overlaps digital content in the real world, allowing users to simultaneously see and interact with both worlds. Vision Pro is slated for limited release to the public next year, but Apple has already given a demo to select developers.
Vision Pro features two high-resolution micro-OLED displays that project images directly onto the user’s retinas, creating a “screenless” (screen without a screen) experience. The headset has 12 built-in cameras for tracking the user’s head, eyes, and hands, a LiDAR scanner for depth perception, and an Apple M2 chip with 10 CPU and 32 GPU cores.
Vision Pro is designed with accessibility at the center, using gestures, voice, and combinations of these input modes as critical enablers. This was showcased in the launch event video, where users could interact with the headset using gestures to browse the web, watch movies, and play games. Designing for Vision Pro requires understanding these input modes and providing solutions for users to have a seamless journey.
Designing for a spatial experience
Design principles for traditional screens may not work for the future of spatial experiences, which are more immersive and interactive. Designers need to adapt these principles to consider the unique features of spatial experiences. Spatial experiences allow users to interact with the environment more naturally, so designers must create interfaces that are easy to use and understand.
Vision Pro’s spatial capabilities allow designers to create visually captivating and user-friendly interfaces that feel intuitive and natural to navigate. This focus on user-centric design enhances the user experience across various applications. Below are some key aspects to consider while designing for glass-style UI:
To create a seamless user experience, Apple has reimagined the feedback mechanism for icons on the home screen. When a user looks at an icon, it expands as if it is being hovered over. Designers design icons with subtle depth by adding specular shadows and highlights.
To design a great icon, start by creating multiple layers. The system uses these flat layers to create a three-dimensional effect. The icon should be converted to 1024×1024 pixels, with transparent foreground layers. Do not use large regions of semi-transparent pixels, as they will blend with the shadow behind them.
Consider these additional recommendations when designing icons:
- Maintain a uniform color scheme and style throughout your icons.
- Make sure your icons are clear and easy to understand.
- Use high-quality images and graphics.
- Test your icons on different devices and screen sizes to ensure they look good everywhere.
Glass panels design
Apple has introduced glass material to create a more spatial and lightweight user experience. This material allows users to see what is behind a window, such as other apps or people, without feeling suffocated.
Therefore, when designing an app window, it is essential to avoid using solid colors. Too many opaque windows can make the interface feel heavy. Instead, use a lighter material to bring attention to interactive elements, such as buttons, or a darker material to separate sections of the app.
For example, if you want to design a lock-up with a lighter button, you can place it on top of the glass material. Or, if you’re going to create more contrast, you can use a darker cell behind the button. However, it is crucial to avoid stacking lighter materials on top of each other, as this can impact legibility and reduce contrast.
Consider these bonus tips for designing with glass material:
- Use glass material sparingly. Too much of it can make the interface feel cluttered.
- Use glass material to create a sense of depth. For example, you can use a darker glass material for the background and a lighter glass material for the foreground.
- Use glass material to highlight essential elements. For example, you can use a lighter glass material for buttons or other interactive elements.
The font-weight can be slightly increased to improve text contrast against vibrant materials. For example, on iOS, regular weight for the body text style must be used; on this platform, a medium can be used. And for titles, instead of semi-bold, bold can be used. This makes the text more legible, even when displayed on a vibrant background. System fonts, which are designed for optimized legibility, can also be used.
Vibrancy is another crucial detail for maintaining legibility. It enhances the foreground content by bringing light and color from the background forward. On this platform, vibrancy updates in real-time to ensure your text is always legible, even when the background constantly changes. Vibrancy can indicate hierarchy for text, symbols, and fills. Primary vibrancy can be used for standard text, and secondary vibrancy can be used for less critical text.
Pointers for using typography and vibrancy:
- Use a heavier font weight for text that needs to be legible, such as body text and titles.
- Use system fonts or other fonts that are designed for optimized legibility.
- Use vibrancy to brighten foreground content and make it stand out from the background.
- Use primary vibrancy for standard text and secondary vibrancy for less critical text.
- When using custom fonts, make sure they are designed for readability.
- Avoid using small or lightweight fonts, which can be challenging to read, especially on large screens.
- Consider using a darker shade for the pop-over background to make the text more legible.
When designing a glass-style UI, use white text and icons on a colored background. This will make the text and icons stand out and be more legible.
- Use system colors whenever possible. System colors are designed for legibility and look best on a glass background.
- If you need a custom color, use it sparingly and make sure it contrasts nicely with the background.
- Avoid using dark colors for text or icons. Dark colors will blend in with the background, making the text and icons challenging to read.
Here are some additional tips for designing glass-style UIs:
- Use a light overall color palette. This will help to create a sense of spaciousness and airiness.
- Use transparency and blur effects to create a sense of depth.
- Use shadows to add dimension to the UI.
- Use gradients to add interest and visual interest.
Source: VisionOS – Apple Developer
How Vision Pro can transform businesses
Businesses of all sizes and across some industries are excited about the potential of Apple Vision Pro, which is still in its early stages of development. The technology has the potential to transform operations, improve customer experiences, and boost overall performance. Still, which industries will most successfully adopt it remains to be seen.
- Create immersive gaming experiences that blur the line between the virtual and real worlds. To illustrate, game developers can use Apple Vision Pro to create realistic first-person shooter games where players can interact with the environment lifelike.
- Create interactive storytelling experiences. Filmmakers can use Apple Vision Pro to create 3D movies, transporting viewers into breathtaking cinematic worlds.
- Provide real-time translation of foreign language text. For example, language learners can use Apple Vision Pro to get a real-time translation of foreign language text while traveling or interacting with people from other cultures.
Education and training
- Provide students with interactive learning experiences. For instance, teachers can use Apple Vision Pro to take students on virtual field trips to historical sites or to conduct experiments in a safe and controlled environment.
- Offer virtual field trips. For example, students can use Apple Vision Pro to visit museums or other educational institutions without leaving their homes.
- Provide real-time translation of foreign language text. Concretely, language learners can use Apple Vision Pro to get the real-time translation of foreign language text while taking a class or reading a book.
Healthcare and medical
- Provide realistic surgical simulations and training scenarios. In other words, doctors and medical students can use Apple Vision Pro to practice procedures without risking harming a patient.
- Offer remote consultations with patients. For example, doctors can use Apple Vision Pro to consult with patients in remote areas.
- Visualize and analyze medical data. For instance, researchers can use Apple Vision Pro to visualize and analyze medical images and data to understand diseases better and develop new treatments.
Real estate and architecture
- Give potential buyers virtual tours of properties. Real estate agents can use Apple Vision Pro to give potential buyers a 360-degree view of a property without meeting them in person.
- Collaborate with clients and stakeholders on 3D design projects. Architects can use Apple Vision Pro to collaborate with clients and stakeholders on 3D design projects in real time.
- Visualize furniture and decor in a physical space. For example, interior designers can use Apple Vision Pro to visualize how furniture and decor will look in a room before making a purchase.
- Join virtual meetings from anywhere. For instance, remote workers can use Apple Vision Pro to join virtual discussions from anywhere.
- Collaborate in real-time and share information. For example, participants in virtual meetings can use Apple Vision Pro to collaborate in real time and share information.
- Track customer behavior and improve the shopping experience. Concretely, businesses can use Apple Vision Pro to track customer behavior in a retail store and use that data to enhance the shopping experience.
Finance and banking
- Visualize financial data. For example, financial analysts can use Apple Vision Pro to visualize financial data to understand the market better and make informed investment decisions.
- Help clients track their spending. For example, personal finance managers can use Apple Vision Pro to help clients track their spending and reach their financial goals.
- Visit virtual bank branches. Concretely, customers can use Apple Vision Pro to visit virtual bank branches to conduct transactions or speak to a banker.
Retail and e-commerce
- Try on clothes and accessories before making a purchase. To illustrate, shoppers can use Apple Vision Pro to try on clothes and accessories before purchasing.
- Provide personalized shopping recommendations. Retailers can use Apple Vision Pro to provide personalized shopping recommendations based on a shopper’s past purchases and browsing history.
- Offer in-store navigation. For instance, businesses can use Apple Vision Pro to offer in-store navigation to help customers find the products they are looking for.
Vision Pro: the flip side
Innovation can be exciting, promising a brighter future with endless possibilities. However, carefully considering the potential consequences of new technologies is essential. While innovation often brings benefits, it can also come with risks, such as privacy concerns, surveillance risks, and impacts on mental health and social isolation. Balancing progress with responsibility when developing and using new technologies is essential.
Comfort and ergonomics
Early reports suggest that the Vision Pro is well-built but slightly uncomfortable to wear for extended periods. The headset is front-heavy due to its metal construction, which could make it difficult to wear for long periods. Additionally, the headset’s weight distribution and heat management could further impact user comfort. If the Vision Pro is not designed to be comfortable, it may limit its appeal to consumers and businesses.
Privacy at stake
The Vision Pro raises fundamental concerns about personal privacy. The headset’s ability to project floating screens onto our vision while observing our environment could collect vast data about us. This data could include our eye movements, facial expressions, and surroundings. The potential for this data to be used to track our movements, monitor our behavior, and even identify us is a serious privacy concern. Establishing robust safeguards and ethical boundaries is essential to protect individuals’ privacy in the digital age.
Mental health and social isolation
While technological advancements can enhance our lives, we must also consider their potential impact on mental well-being and social dynamics. The Vision Pro’s immersive AR experience could be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it offers captivating virtual overlays of reality that could tempt users to immerse themselves in a captivating digital realm. On the other hand, this allure could come at the risk of isolating individuals from their physical surroundings and authentic human connections. As we increasingly detach from the present moment and substitute genuine interactions with virtual experiences, the potential for social isolation and its associated mental health consequences is serious.
Source: Apple Developer Forums
Apple’s Vision Pro hasn’t even been released yet, but the company is already planning a smaller and lighter version of the headset and is deep into work on follow-up products.
Apple Vision Pro can redefine how we interact with technology in a human-centric way. Its spatial capabilities allow designers to create visually appealing, user-friendly interfaces that feel natural. This focus on human-centric design will enhance and transform businesses of all sizes and industries by enabling immersive, interactive, and personalized experiences in various applications, from gaming and entertainment to education and training. While Vision Pro can be a powerful tool for good, it is essential to remember that it is also a new technology with potential risks. Our collective responsibility is to ensure that Vision Pro is used responsibly in a human-centric way.