Apple Vision Pro hits app milestone, but finding them is still a nightmare

The Carrot Weather app shown in augmented reality using Apple's Vision Pro headset.
(Image credit: Grailr)

There were concerns ahead of the Apple Vision Pro launch about the number of native apps available for the headset. Those worries have now been put to bed, with more than 1,000 native apps on offer, but despite that encouraging turnaround there are still problems with finding and downloading apps on the Vision Pro. 

The "1,000" figure comes from Apple’s Senior Vice President of Marketing Greg Joswiak, who stated in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that the device has now soared past initial estimates. 

In the post, Joswiak said “A huge thank you to our developers! Their hard work has already resulted in over 1,000 incredible spatial apps designed specifically for Vision Pro, along with over 1.5 million compatible apps. We’re thrilled to see how they’ll continue to push the boundaries for what’s possible.”

Native Vision Pro apps make use of the device’s features and format, for instance with larger buttons and small, interactive menus that Apple calls ‘ornaments.’ Non-native (but compatible) apps, on the other hand, are simply ports of iPad apps that automatically work on the Vision Pro, and are housed in flat, 2D windows just like on Apple’s tablets.

On February 1, the day before the Vision Pro launched, its App Store was said to be stocked with around 600 apps. That’s more than the 500 that debuted on the original iPhone, but much less than the roughly 2,300 native apps that came with the first iPad.

App discovery issues

Gaming on Apple Vision Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

However, while the numbers are encouraging, it's not all rosy on the Vision Pro apps front. Tom Ffiske of Immersive Wire (via AppleInsider) spoke to several Vision Pro app developers to get their initial thoughts on the experience of building software for the headset, and the verdict was mixed.

It looks like most developers that Ffiske spoke to are optimistic about its long-term future, with many confident that the app situation will improve as the device finds its feet. With the number of native apps rapidly climbing each day, that hope could be well placed.

On the flip side, Ffiske reports that many developers are struggling with low download numbers for their apps – and one of the most significant factors is that apps are difficult to find in the Vision Pro’s App Store.

Most of the developers quizzed by Ffiske said that app discovery was a real problem on the Vision Pro. “The search function should be better,” Ffiske notes, “and the top ten lists for popular downloads should be clearer to find on the storefront.”

It could also be that the Vision Pro is such a novel product for its users that people have simply spent most of their time trying out the built-in apps and features, rather than looking to download additional apps, Ffiske contends.

Search visibility is not the only problem developers are dealing with. Many told Ffiske that Apple’s App Store analytics system is sub-standard on the Vision Pro, with bugs, technical issues and a lack of transparency hindering developers. For some, the source of their apps’ downloads was not clear.

In our time with the headset so far we found apps to be a mixed bag too, stating that compatibility was hit and miss, but that the overall experience was often magical all the same. Check out our Apple Vision Pro review for our full verdict.

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Alex Blake
Freelance Contributor

Alex Blake has been fooling around with computers since the early 1990s, and since that time he's learned a thing or two about tech. No more than two things, though. That's all his brain can hold. As well as TechRadar, Alex writes for iMore, Digital Trends and Creative Bloq, among others. He was previously commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine. That means he mostly covers the world of Apple and its latest products, but also Windows, computer peripherals, mobile apps, and much more beyond. When not writing, you can find him hiking the English countryside and gaming on his PC.