Although excitement is building for the release of the Apple Vision Pro mixed-reality headset (pre-orders are now live), potential users will have to do without not just YouTube or Spotify, but Netflix as well. While Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus (obviously) are guaranteed to be available right out of the box, we do have to question if you’ll be able to take advantage of the headset's cinematic qualities without these three media giants.
While some streaming competitors are rushing to embrace the Apple Vision Pro (including Peacock, ESPN, and Paramount Plus), Netflix and YouTube seem to be playing the waiting game, and when the headset launches Apple Vision Pro users will have to access their respective services through the Safari browser (which has it's own Vision Pro version) rather than via dedicated apps. According to a report from Bloomberg, Netflix is the latest to confirm that it won’t be offering a visionOS app.
YouTube in particular is quite the omission considering that it is probably the best place to find immersive content, especially videos tailored to the VR experience capabilities of the Vision Pro. The videos available on the platform may not be as refined and curated as the content you can find on Netflix or Disney Plus, but it’s a media platform used by many people almost daily and leaves the headset feeling somewhat empty without it - more so now that Netflix is joining in abstaining from visionOS.
All work and no play?
It’s a troubling start for Apple’s big foray into mixed reality. After all, if you’re sitting down to use a headset that cost you $3,499 but you have to pull up Safari and start typing away on your connected MacBook just to watch a video or an episode of your favourite Netflix show, is it really worth the money? Using Safari is a clunky workaround at best.
There are almost certainly multiple factors at play behind the scenes here. Netflix and Apple do have a rather strained relationship at the best of times. Netflix has historically had issues with Apple’s App Store revenue sharing, with this contention definitely not helped by the arrival of Apple TV. Another likely reason we aren’t seeing Netflix jump at the opportunity to produce a visionOS app is simply that it has little faith in Apple’s headset.
In fact, you could argue that the streaming service has so little faith in the Vision Pro that it’s not even willing to modify a version of the Netflix iPadOS app to work on the new platform (not unlike how Instagram on iPadOS is just a scaled-up version of the iOS app). Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify are likely waiting to see how the headset is received before they any dedicate time and money to developing apps for it. As someone who’s been skeptical of the headset since it was announced, I can’t help but feel more than a little vindicated by this - it’s not just me observing from the sidelines with very little confidence in Apple’s big plans.
I mean, the Nintendo Switch came out in 2017 and that has a dedicated YouTube app (the Nintendo 3DS had one as well!) so if a nearly seven-year-old console can have a dedicated app for the world’s biggest video-streaming platform but this futuristic headset can’t, that really doesn’t look good for Apple.
Ultimately, we can only speculate as to why exactly these big media companies are so hesitant, but one reason may be the way the headset has been marketed. Apple has from the jump advertised the Vision Pro as this incredibly immersive media experience device that will put you right in the middle of the action, but the fact that it’s called a Vision Pro - and the sky-high price tag - does give off the impression it's more for enterprise users. Could this case of confused identity be the reason behind this very visible display of hesitancy?
As of yet, there’s no sign of when, if ever, we could expect a dedicated visionOS app to come from Netflix, YouTube, or Spotify. It’s likely we’ll have to wait and see how well the Vision Pro sells when it launches to have an idea of whether or not we actually will get these apps - if it does prove successful, they won’t have a choice but to commit.
If this hasn’t completely dampened your excitement for the Apple Vision Pro, there’s still quite a lot to look forward to regardless. While it’s mostly still on the more business-focused side of things, we now have a clear list of apps confirmed for the Vision Pro - including Slack, Display Plus, Zoom, Microsoft 365, Safari, and many more to come. And after all, if it truly is meant to be an enterprise device, would it even need a Netflix app?
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Muskaan is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing writer. She has always been a passionate writer and has had her creative work published in several literary journals and magazines. Her debut into the writing world was a poem published in The Times of Zambia, on the subject of sunflowers and the insignificance of human existence in comparison.
Growing up in Zambia, Muskaan was fascinated with technology, especially computers, and she's joined TechRadar to write about the latest GPUs, laptops and recently anything AI related. If you've got questions, moral concerns or just an interest in anything ChatGPT or general AI, you're in the right place.
Muskaan also somehow managed to install a game on her work MacBook's Touch Bar, without the IT department finding out (yet).