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Posts tagged with "Vision Pro"

Vision Pro App Spotlight: Status Bar Builder’s Key Is Customization Combined with Simplicity

There’s an elegance in simplicity that I value. I use plenty of complex apps, but there’s a certain satisfaction in finding one that fits your needs perfectly. One such app that seems destined to claim a long-term spot on my Vision Pro is Status Bar Builder, a customizable utility that displays useful information without taking up much space.

Status Bar Builder's UI for organizing and creating status bars.

Status Bar Builder’s UI for organizing and creating status bars.

The app allows you to build status bars, which are narrow, horizontal windows reminiscent of the Mac’s menu bar that you can place around your environment. Status bars come in three text sizes and can have no background, be translucent, or use a colored background.

Regardless of the styling you pick, status bars can include:

  • Shortcuts
  • Links
  • Today’s date
  • Weekday
  • Numerical date
  • Month
  • Time
  • Your calendar events
  • A battery charge indicator
  • A spacer
Adding items to a status bar.

Adding items to a status bar.

Designing status bars is easy. They’re created and stored in the app’s main window, which includes a preview of each along with buttons to open any existing status bars, make revisions, or delete them. At the bottom of the main window, there’s also a ‘New’ button to add to your collection.

You can make as many status bars as you’d like, sprinkling them around your room. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to how many items you can include in a status bar, either, but as a practical matter, if a status bar gets too long, it doesn’t look great, and some text will be truncated.

Adding shortcuts to a status bar.

Adding shortcuts to a status bar.

What’s more, you can add as many of each type of item as you’d like to a status bar. For Shortcuts, that means you can create a long list of shortcuts if you want. However, you better be able to identify them by their icons because the buttons in the status bar don’t include shortcut names or the colors you assigned to them.

Links work like a mini bookmark bar, allowing you to save frequently visited websites with a custom icon as a button in your status bar. However, like shortcuts, you’ll need a memorable icon because there are no link labels or other text to go by. Links support URL schemes too, offering additional automation options.

Links and shortcuts can be represented by an icon.

Links and shortcuts can be represented by an icon.

There are also a few other other item-specific settings available. For example, there are three sizes of spacers that can be added to a status bar, and calendar events can include the color of their associated calendars if you’d like. Plus, dates and times have formatting, color, size, and other style options. It’s worth noting that your next calendar event doesn’t include the scheduled time and events cannot be opened, both of which are things I’d love to see added to the app in the future.

Although you can overstuff your status bars with links, shortcuts, and other information, I’ve found that the best approach is to be picky, limiting yourself to a handful of items that make your status bars more glanceable. Then, if you find yourself adding more and more to a status bar, consider breaking it up into multiple status bars organized thematically. I find that works well and gives me more flexibility about where I put each.


I have to imagine that Apple will eventually release something like Status Bar Builder. It’s too easy to lose track of time in the Vision Pro. It needs a clock, battery indicator, date, and other basic data we’ve had on our iPhones since day one. Status Bar Builder fills that gap but goes one step further by adding links, calendar items, and shortcuts. I wouldn’t add a lot more to the app, but a weather item with the current conditions and temperature would be great. However, even though parts of Status Bar Builder may eventually wind up as parts of visionOS, I expect the app has a long and useful life ahead of it, thanks to the other components that go a step further than I expect Apple ever will.

Status Bar Builder is available on the App Store for $4.99.


AppStories, Episode 372 – Apple Vision Pro Entertainment Apps

This week on AppStories, we share some of our favorite visionOS entertainment apps.

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Vision Pro Entertainment Apps


On AppStories+, I explain all the little gotchas involved with taking screenshots even if you have the Vision Pro Developer Strap.

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Vision Pro App Spotlight: Longplay Adds Immersive Album Listening

The music experience on the Apple Vision Pro is excellent. It starts with the device’s built-in headphones and spatial audio, which work hand-in-hand with the visual components of spatial computing. Apple has already shown off the potential for immersive experiences like Alicia Keys: Rehearsal Room, but the music experience goes deeper than that, thanks to third-party developers.

I’ve already covered Juno, Christian Selig’s YouTube player app, which is great for watching music videos and other content, and NowPlaying, which supplements Apple Music with editorial content, lyrics, and more. Today, though, I want to focus on Longplay, Adrian Schönig’s album-oriented playback app for Apple Music.

Longplay 2.0 was released last August. It was a big update that I reviewed at the time and have been enjoying ever since. The app is available on the Vision Pro now too, complete with an immersive mode that I love.

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Apple Vision Pro Accessory Roundup: Our Favorites So Far

Slowly but surely, a growing number of accessories are popping up around the Apple Vision Pro. Today, we thought we’d share our favorites so far.

Battery Accessories

Battery Packs

The [Anker Prime 27,650mAh](https://amzn.to/3SpPCSm) power bank.

The Anker Prime 27,650mAh power bank.

John: Apple sells the battery pack that powers the Apple Vision Pro as a separate accessory for $199. However, because the Vision Pro’s battery includes a USB-C port for charging it, there are plenty of cheaper solutions.

One option is simply plugging Apple’s battery into its power adapter as you use it. However, if you want something more portable, I’d suggest a battery pack to charge your Apple battery pack. Any battery pack will do, but we have several listed on our Setups page that Federico and I use and recommend and will do the trick too.

Belkin Battery Holder

Federico: I never thought I’d become the sort of person who casually holsters a tech accessory in his daily routine, and yet here we are thanks to the Vision Pro. I decided to get the Belkin battery holder upon ordering the Vision Pro, and I’m glad I did. Not only does the clip on the case make it easier to walk around the house while wearing the Vision Pro (putting the battery in my pocket causes too much tension on the cable and I don’t like it), but it also provides a nice degree of protection for the battery itself. I genuinely recommend getting this if you plan on moving around a lot while using the Vision Pro.

Keyboard and Trackpad Accessories

John: The Apple Vision Pro’s built-in keyboard and dictation are fine for entering short bits of text when you’re using the device, but for anything more than a few words, you’ll want a keyboard. The Apple Magic Keyboard works best with the Vision Pro because it integrates tightly with visionOS, displaying a preview of what you’re typing that floats just above the keyboard. Plus, Magic Trackpad is the only trackpad that I am aware of that works with the Vision Pro.

The MagicBridge or a Lap Desk

The trouble is finding a way to use the Magic Keyboard and Trackpad when you’re away from your desk or a tabletop because both are small and can be hard to balance in your lap. There are a few options here, depending on your preferences. Twelve South’s MagicBridge joins the Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad using a plastic frame that holds the two together side-by-side. It works much better in the lap that way, but it’s also wide and can feel unbalanced when the keyboard is directly in front of you, and the trackpad is hanging off to the side.

Since my initial experiments with the MagicBridge, I’ve gravitated to a lap desk for those times that I’m sitting on the couch. There are a million of these on Amazon and elsewhere. However, I like the simplicity of the 30.5” Wood Curved Lap Desk Table Tray, which is a simple curved piece of wood without any notches for iPhones or ridges to hold a laptop in place to get in my way.

Hazevaiy Acrylic Magic Keyboard and Trackpad Support Stand

Federico: After some research and asking on Mastodon, I discovered that accessory manufacturers have been making for quite some time what is, effectively, the opposite of a MagicBridge: a tray where the Magic Trackpad and Keyboard are held in a laptop-like configuration, with the keyboard above the trackpad. I got a couple from Amazon, and I like the transparent one better than others I’ve seen thanks to its slimmer profile. (Plus, let’s face it – anything looks better when it’s made of transparent plastic.) These accessories all lack the sort of palm rejection features that are typically found on Mac laptops, so if you can get used to avoiding the trackpad with your palm or wrist when typing, I think you should consider this as a lap-friendly alternative to the MagicBridge.

A Smaller Case – Syntech Hard Carrying Case

John: By all accounts Apple’s Vision Pro case is very nice, but I wasn’t interested because it’s so bulky and expensive. Instead, I went with one Federico discovered on Reddit by Syntech that was originally made for the Meta Quest. It’s not small, but it fits in a backpack better than Apple’s case ever will. Inside, there’s a velcro strap for securing your Vision Pro in place and enough spare room to stow your battery and polishing cloth. Best of all, the Syntech case is less than $30.

Protecting the Vision Pro’s Lenses - KIWI design Lens Protector Cover

John: My most recent accessory find for the Vision Pro is the KIWI Lens Protector Cover. It’s another accessory originally designed for the Meta Quest, but it works perfectly with the Vision Pro too. There’s not much to say about the KIWI other than it’s a soft microfiber pillow that you stuff into the inside of your Vision Pro headset against the lenses to protect them. With a USB-C cable and other items in the same case as the Vision Pro, I feel better knowing that there’s a soft barrier between its lenses and everything else in my bag.


That’s it for now, but keep an eye on our MacStories Setups page for updates on the accessories we use with our Apple Vision Pros and other gear.


Apple Says a 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs Film is ‘Coming Soon’ to the Vision Pro

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

This morning, I was listening to the latest episode of Dithering, when John Gruber wondered something I’d noticed too. At WWDC and subsequent press demos of the Vision Pro, Apple showed off sports footage, including a sequence from a Boston Red Sox game, but none of that shipped with the device.

However, over the weekend, there was news that the NBA All-Star Game’s slam dunk contest had been filmed in spatial video. John speculated that perhaps Apple would do something similar with other sports but focused on highlights instead of live footage. It looks like that was a good call because today, Apple announced that:

…soon, all Apple Vision Pro users can experience the best of the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs with the first-ever sports film captured in Apple Immersive Video. Viewers will feel every heart-pounding moment in 8K 3D with a 180-degree field of view and Spatial Audio that transports them to each match.

No other details about the upcoming film have been released, but it sounds a lot like what John imagined and the sort of thing that could show off the Vision Pro’s capabilities well. I’m not an MLS fan, but I’ll be checking it out just to get a better sense of what the Vision Pro could offer sports fans.


Beautiful Things for Spatial Computing

I came across this fun website while browsing the Vision Pro community on Reddit: beautifulthings.xyz is a curated collection of 3D USDZ files that you can download for free on any Apple device. On the Vision Pro, these models can be freely placed anywhere in your environment alongside other windows, allowing you to inspect up close, say, a Spider-Man model, a Lamborghini, or, should you feel like it, a first-gen iPod classic.

Here is, for instance, a screenshot of a nice-looking Italian pizza and a Hylian shield just floating around my living room:

Pizza and Zelda? Yep, that's me.

Pizza and Zelda? Yep, that’s me.

According to the website’s creator, more than 100,000 items have been uploaded to the site in the past week alone, and the developers are working on a curated daily feed to showcase the best objects you can view on a Vision Pro.

Fun project, well worth a few minutes of your time even just for opening 3D models of stuff you can’t afford in real life. I hope they’ll consider adding a search functionality next.

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A Comprehensive Guide to Gaming on the Apple Vision Pro

The lack of any kind of port significantly limits the type of gaming you can do in the Apple Vision Pro – or does it? Sure, even one USB-C port would make a big difference to gamers looking to play titles outside the App Store, but there is a surprisingly wide array of ways to play almost any game on the Vision Pro with the help of a combination of apps and hardware. The solutions run the gamut from simple to complex and span a range of price points. I’ve tried them all and have pointers on how to get started.

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Vision Accessibility on Apple Vision Pro

I have low vision. A kind you can’t really correct for with glasses or contacts. I also bought Apple Vision Pro at launch. Why would I do this? Well because I’m a nerd who wants to see the future, but also because I was fascinated to see how Apple would handle accessibility for this new product. Apple’s track record on accessibility in the past decade has been stellar, in my opinion, with their teams adding powerful options every year and ensuring every new platform has accessibility support built in from the start.

After watching Apple’s WWDC23 session on visionOS accessibility, I knew accessibility on visionOS was an important point for them. But even after consuming as much information on the platform as I could, I knew I had to try it for myself to know the answer to the important question: how well does it work for me?

Terrific overview of the Accessibility features of visionOS and Vision Pro by Zach Knox.

It’s no surprise to learn that Apple’s Accessibility team did some amazing work for this new platform too, but it’s impressive to see that on day one of the Vision Pro there are already dozens of Accessibility features and accommodations in place. And keep in mind that these are Accessibility options that work with Apple apps and third-party ones, right out of the box. This is the kind of ecosystem advantage and platform integration that newfound tech reviewer Zuckerberg probably forgot to mention in his video.

See also: Tom Moore’s story on trying the Vision Pro with one eye only, Peter Saathoff-Harshfield’s Mastodon thread, Shelly Brisbin’s story for Six Colors, and Ryan Hudson Peralta’s fantastic overview (via 9to5Mac) of using the Vision Pro without hands, which I’m embedding below.

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Sharing a Vision Pro with Someone Else Is Too Hard

Adi Robertson writes for The Verge about the Vision Pro’s lackluster support for multiple users and how hard it is to share the device with someone else:

The Vision Pro is $3,499 and only one person in your household can ever use it fully, which makes no sense at all. The privacy issues are technically there on the Vision Pro — letting anyone else use it without setting restrictions in guest mode grants them access to everything you’ve got on the headset, including your messages. But as my experience demonstrates, they may not even be able to use it well enough to get that far. You can start a guest session by holding the Vision Pro’s left-side hardware button for four seconds, but you can’t store a second user’s information so they can log in quickly next time without calibration. Basically, imagine if every time you passed an iPad to somebody else in your family, they had to spend a minute poking colored dots.

The worst part of using the Vision Pro for the past two weeks has been trying to get someone else in my family to use it. As a novel type of computer that almost demands to be tried by different people in your life, the lack of multi-user support at launch is a major cause of friction for me right now. I’ve been able to get a separate set of light seal and cushion for Silvia and my mom, but the problem is visionOS. There is a guest mode, but every time someone other than me wants to try the Vision Pro, they have to do the eye setup process from scratch. It gets annoying quickly without the ability to save calibrated presets for other people.

In the demos I’ve conducted for people in my family over the past week, I’ve also realized how hard it is to guide someone else through visionOS for the first time. I wish Apple had built a dedicated “demo app” for new users who try the Vision Pro – sort of like a pre-installed (and interactive) version of Apple’s guided tour, which is also very similar to the demo I had at WWDC last year.

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