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Apple Vision Pro interface: How will Apple Vision Pro change the user experience?

The launch of Apple Vision Pro marked the beginning of a whole new user experience and user interface design. Spatial design. And we have a lot to talk about.

9 August, 2023
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The launch of Apple Vision Pro marked the beginning of a whole new user experience and user interface design. Spatial design. And, obviously, it has its own rules and guidelines. The ones that focus on getting the best from the passthrough.

We have recently covered the future business opportunities of Apple Vision Pro and even created a comprehensive Apple Vision Pro developer guide for those wishing to build Vision Pro applications. Now it’s design’s turn. And we have a lot to talk about.

Introduction to Apple Vision Pro interface

Apple's priority in the user interface design of the Vision Pro headset is achieving a seamless and intuitive AR experience. Here’s how it does that:

  • 3D interface. The Vision Pro headset integrates digital content into the user's physical surroundings, creating a strong sense of presence and immersion.
  • Natural interaction. Apple focuses on intuitive methods for user interaction, allowing effortless control through eyes, hands, and voice for easy navigation of apps and content.
  • Dynamic response to natural light. The interface adapts to natural lighting conditions, casting shadows and enhancing the integration of digital content with the real world, thereby increasing realism.
  • Visual cues. Eyesight provides visual cues about the user's focus, fostering connection and facilitating collaboration in group settings.
  • Intuitive gestures and voice commands. The interface supports user-friendly gestures like tapping, flicking, and scrolling, along with integrated voice commands for convenient control of various functions.

Looking for top-notch design to enhance your Apple Vision Pro?

Merge is here to help.

Learn more

Apple “Goggles” components

Apple's expertise in wearables started with the Apple Watch and AirPods, influencing the design of the Vision Pro. Unlike previous seamless wearables, the Vision Pro adopts a deconstructed design with five components: display/computing, Audio Straps, light seal, adjustable headband, and battery.

The display/computing component resembles the Apple Watch, featuring an aluminum housing, curved laminated glass, and a digital crown for the UI. When worn, the view is transparent. The Digital Crown activates Home View with app menus while face-tracking sensors deliver 4K resolution to each eye.

The Light Seal uses a woven material for a conforming face seal. The Audio Straps hold speakers with rich Spatial Audio close to the ears. The Vision Pro also features a "3D-knitted" headband with a mechanical adjustment knob. Lastly, the battery is carried in a pocket and can be tethered to the headset or plugged into the wall for continuous power.

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What’s so special about designing for spatial computing?

Designing for Vision Pro requires a grasp of spatial design principles. Spatial computing in Apple Vision Pro enables real-time interaction with the physical environment, integrating virtual content seamlessly. It accurately maps and tracks surroundings, placing virtual objects realistically. The micro OLED display system provides high resolution for various applications and interactions, creating immersive augmented reality experiences.

Designing for spatial computing can be pretty intuitive once you get a hold of it and its principles. Basically, the objective is to create an immersive environment that reduces the prominence of the real world and directs the user's attention toward the virtual content.

The choice of material is vital in establishing a connection between digital content and the surrounding environment. For example, Apple skillfully captures user attention by opting for semi-transparent glass material while preserving their awareness of the surroundings.

The next important thing to consider is creating adaptable windows that adjust to lighting conditions, further enhancing user awareness. You must also balance novelty and familiarity by integrating familiar interface elements, aiding user navigation. Another helpful practice is to utilize points as a unit of measurement for adaptability and legibility at various distances.

Looking for top-notch design to enhance your Apple Vision Pro?

Merge is here to help.

Learn more

What is a passthrough experience?

The design philosophy of Apple Vision Pro revolves around seamlessly integrating digital content into the physical environment, emphasizing the headset's ability to connect rather than isolate the user.

A key element enabling this smooth experience is passthrough, defined in this context as the ability to perceive the real world through the headset.

In virtual reality, passthrough is a headset function that gives users a clear view of their physical surroundings by "seeing through" the displays while wearing the immersive device.

In Apple Vision Pro, passthrough enhances user interaction by providing live video from external cameras, enabling them to engage with virtual content while remaining aware of their real environment. Users can control the degree of passthrough using the Digital Crown.

Designing for Apple Vision Pro by Arfi Maulana
Designing for Apple Vision Pro by Arfi Maulana

Apple Vision Pro design guidelines

The minute Apple Vision Pro was announced, people speculated about how the applications will look like and what design principles they will have to follow to make the best out of the new technology.

For example, soon after the launch itself, Apple Vision Pro Figma design kits started to appear. Without beating around the bush, here are the most essential Vision Pro design guidelines gathered in one place.

Designing for visionOS

When designing for VisionOS, understanding its key characteristics and patterns is crucial. Apple Vision Pro offers a boundless canvas for virtual content, enabling users to access windows, volumes, and 3D objects. It grants the option to immerse oneself fully in captivating experiences that transport them to various locations.

In the visionOS app, users can smoothly switch between different levels of immersion. Apps launch in the Shared Space by default, allowing multiple apps to run concurrently. Users can freely open, close, and move windows within this setting.

Alternatively, they can choose to transition an app to a Full Space, where it becomes the sole running app. Within a Full Space, users can view 3D content harmoniously blended with their surroundings, create portals to glimpse other places or enter entirely different worlds.

Apple Vision Pro features
Apple Vision Pro features

Spatial Audio

This feature combines acoustic and visual-sensing technologies, resulting in natural audio experiences tailored to the user's surroundings. With user consent, apps can access information about their surroundings, allowing for fine-tuning of Spatial Audio to deliver customized experiences.

Eye and hand gestures

Users focus on virtual objects through their gaze and activate them through indirect gestures like tapping. Additionally, direct gestures such as touching a virtual object with a finger offer another means of interaction.

Ergonomics

Maintaining visual comfort is a priority as users rely solely on the device's cameras for both real and virtual views. The system automatically adjusts content relative to the wearer's head, regardless of height or position (sitting, standing, or lying down).

This approach enables users to engage with apps and games while at rest, as content comes to them rather than necessitating physical movement.

Accessibility

It supports various accessibility technologies such as VoiceOver, Switch Control, Dwell Control, Guided Access, and Head Pointer, among others, enabling users to interact with the system in ways that suit them best.

The visionOS platform ensures that system-provided UI components incorporate accessibility support by default, while system frameworks offer ways to further enhance app or game accessibility.

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Apple Vision Pro app design rules

We’ve gathered the most crucial Apple Vision Pro app design rules and principles that will make designing applications for Apple’s headset a piece of cake. So, make sure you:

  1. Avoid overwhelming users with too many virtual objects. Limit the number of windows to handle at once. Optimize the user experience by centralizing core content within the Field of View (FOV).
  2. Design your app with a range of immersion levels. Choose windowed, UI-centric, fully immersive, or intermediate contexts for key moments. Assess each moment to determine the minimum suitable immersion, as not all require full immersion.
  3. Opt for windowed, UI-centric experiences with standard windows and familiar controls for tasks. In visionOS, users can relocate windows anywhere, and dynamic scaling maintains legibility regardless of proximity.
  4. Pay meticulous attention to typography, making sure it is highly legible and provides sufficient contrast against vibrant materials.
  5. Opt for vibrant colors that dynamically adjust according to the lighting conditions, creating an engaging and adaptable user experience.
  6. Craft ergonomic layouts that prioritize users' comfort and safety, keeping important UI elements within their field of view.
  7. Utilize wider aspect ratios for larger canvases, enhancing your design’s overall usability and visual appeal.
  8. Optimize eye and neck comfort by designing interfaces that respond to eye movements. Place the main content in the center area and reserve edges for secondary actions.
  9. Enable precise and satisfying interactions by combining eye and hand gestures. Leverage eye focus as the origin point for intuitive zooming and pointer movement.
  10. Enhance smooth and intuitive interactions by using shapes, sizes, and spacing that naturally guide the eyes to the center of elements.

Looking for top-notch design to enhance your Apple Vision Pro?

Merge is here to help.

Learn more

To enhance user experience:

  • Avoid overwhelming or jarring motion.
  • Support indirect gestures for easy interaction.
  • For direct gestures, ensure interactive content is within reach.
  • Discourage excessive movement during fully immersive experiences.
Design for Apple Vision Pro apps by Adhiari Subekti
Designing for Apple Vision Pro by Adhiari Subekti

What will the Apple Vision Pro experience look like?

Designing interfaces for Apple Vision Pro that embrace spatial design principles and utilize spatial input can lead to transformative and captivating user experiences. These experiences push the boundaries of traditional UI design and redefine how users interact with technology, offering exciting new possibilities.

Overall, the design and development of passthrough experiences have seen visible progress lately, while hardware and software advancements are blurring the line between real and virtual worlds.

So far, passthrough technology's prevalence and quality are increasing, offering more life-like interactions, and the future holds the potential for even greater interactivity, transforming living spaces into dynamic hybrid environments.

By adhering to design principles and technical guidelines, you can create standout apps for the Vision Pro platform. The key is to deliver immersive experiences that engage users' senses, provide seamless interactions, and elevate the overall app experience.

author

CEO and Founder of Merge

My mission is to help startups build software, experiment with new features, and bring their product vision to life.

My mission is to help startups build software, experiment with new features, and bring their product vision to life.

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