A lot of Apple fans were disappointed when the company announced the long-awaited Vision Pro, before going on to say that initial sales wouldn't extend beyond American borders. Now the company has announced six locations where developers will be able to get a hands-on experience with the goggles, with some in markets Apple hasn't (yet) promised the spatial computing device will even be on sale.
The "Developer Labs" will open next month in Cupertino, London, Munich, Shanghai, Singapore, and Tokyo so developers can, in Apple's words, get "hands-on experience to test their apps on Apple Vision Pro hardware and get support from Apple engineers. Development teams will also be able to apply for developer kits to help them quickly build, iterate, and test right on Apple Vision Pro."
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What that means is, for now, developers are working from simulations of the platform on Apple's Developer Site, and probably a good bit of uncertainty – there isn't even a final release date for the Vision Pro US (though it was made clear that other countries would come later).
It doesn't even state whether a "development kit" includes the $3,500 (approximately £2,725 / AU$5,200) headset. I know there is a wave of excitement and goodwill surrounding this project but, speaking as the owner of an abandoned Google Glass, I'd like to think developers are getting a bit more certainty this time.
I know as a customer based outside the USA I'm quite unhappy not to have the same opportunity to get my hands on the 3D camera and so-much-more as citizens of that country. And the idea that developers are being asked to create software that they might not be able to run themselves because they're not allowed the glasses – and will no doubt be region-locked from the app store – seems very troubling.
It's not that I don't understand this is a difficult new product to launch, and that Apple is dragging supply chains kicking and screaming into producing the necessary components. There is very likely to be more demand for the Vision Pro than supply, even at $3,500, so you can see why the company might limit it by region to control that.
That, I think, was always a mistake. This is a pricey initial play to create and, presumably, grow the market. Apple needs developers to create a 'killer app' or two. The release of this list of locations makes plain that the company doesn't just expect it to come from America. So why restrict sales to America, even for a moment?
If anything, it would make more sense to allocate sales worldwide through the developer program first, then resort to old-fashioned territorial releases. Though it still seems very pre-internet, let alone spatial computing.
Anyone, incidentally, can sign up for Apple's developer program if they've got a Mac, so you might want to consider looking for the best Mac computer to try the simulator. And I'd suggest you look at our best monitors guide, too, if you're going to take a deep-dive into development – screen real estate is a must.