visionOS is the name of Apple’s newest operating system — the OS that powers the Apple Vision Pro, Apple’s soon-to-launch augmented reality headset.
Unveiled at its annual WWDC conference, Apple describes visionOS as “the first OS designed from the ground up for spatial computing” — spatial computing being Apple’s phrase of choice for augmented and virtual reality experiences. At the architecture level, visionOS shares core blocks in common with MacOS and iOS, but adds a “real-time subsystem” for processing interactive visuals on the Apple Vision Pro.
visionOS’ three-dimensional interface frees apps from the boundaries of a traditional display, so that they can appear side by side at different scales. The UI responds dynamically to natural light, casting shadows to help communicate scale and distance.
At launch, visionOS will feature apps — including Unity apps, which run natively on the Vision Pro — from Adobe (specifically Lightroom), Microsoft (Teams and Office), Cisco (WebEx) Zoom and other major developers. There’s medical software for looking at renders of anatomy and an engineering app for visualizing things like physics phenomena, like airflow, on top of real-world objects.
You’ll get those apps and more from a brand-new app store, which is launching simultaneously with the Vision Pro. Beyond apps, more than 100 Apple Arcade titles will be available to play on “day one,” Apple says.
In tandem with the Vision Pro’s hardware, visionOS underpins EyeSight, which projects the eyes of whoever’s wearing the Vision Pro onto the headset’s curved outer display.
Apple also highlighted the new security system in visionOS, called Optic ID, which uses iris scans for authentication. The data’s encrypted and works with Secure Enclave, the subsystem integrated into Apple system-on-chips. But Apple made it clear during today’s prerecorded presentation that telemetry data, like how you’re interacting with apps and websites, stays private.