With Apple recently unveiling its Vision Pro headset and Google and Samsung working on similar devices, there is growing excitement around augmented and virtual reality. However, developers face challenges creating apps across multiple platforms due to differences in native codebases.
The challenges of cross platform development
Apple uses a mix of the established SwiftUI and VisionOS, while Google and Samsung are built on Android.
Just as with mobile development, writing natively for both Apple and Android requires extra effort. Currently, most AR/VR apps pick a single platform to target first.
But the emergence of lightweight hybrid frameworks like React and Flutter proved game-changing for mobile - making cross-platform development faster and easier.
I just wonder when the event horizen is for a possible hybrid codebase for AR/VR development? Or it it right under our noses?
The new era of spatial apps
Things have radically changed since Apple made thier announcement, which will most likely be carried over and along with Google/Samsung (G/S) product.
Neither are games platforms unlike Meta/Oculus, and to a lessor extent HTC. This means we are entering into a time where day to day apps will be the glue that brings people back daily to Apple and GS.
I have long known and written about the lack of ultility within games focused ecosystems to provide enough content that people NEED to come back to, rather than nice to play if we have time.
Yes we have Unity and Unreal, but the devil is in thier titles, "Games Engines".
Also, for the next couple of years, developers will be placing big bets on a tiny 'total addressable markets'. Apple will reportedly have only 400k headsets in cirulation by the end of the first year, so a go to market strategy of building for either of these headsets mentioned, plus the celluar counterparts has to be a common sense approach.
If you have ever loaded up a mobile app than runs a game engine in the background you will know that this level of lag and friction is unaccptable to the average consumer. So whats the answer..?
Is the landscape primed for a similar solution to enable universal spatial apps?
A lightweight framework that could work across Apple, Android and other devices would make development and distribution far more efficient. Small teams could build once and deploy everywhere instead of rewriting code for each OS.
Apple and Google have incentives to support this. A thriving spatial app ecosystem benefits both by driving adoption of their headsets. If quality apps are scarce due to codebase fragmentation, it hampers the market's growth. A unified framework would energize developer momentum.
Technical challenges remain, as AR/VR capabilities differ across headsets right now. But a simplified cross-platform interface could abstract these hardware differences from developers.
React Native achieved this for mobile.
For consumers, a robust cross-platform AR/VR app market means less platform lock-in. Apps and content could work seamlessly no matter which headset you own. A thriving app economy will likely hinge on this open ecosystem approach rather than walled gardens. Sounds like utopia doesnt it, it will never happen.
One size fits all, it that possible?
While a one-size-fits-all framework is still aspirational, the groundwork is being laid. Support for OpenXR cross-compatibility standards is increasing. Major players are collaborating more through groups like the XR Association. The demand is there - the tools will follow. The AR/VR revolution will be fueled by the collective contributions of developers everywhere, not restricted to any single platform.
So, my question is, will OpenXR be the React Native / Kotlin that will unlock more apps, more commerce, more accessibility to making applications cross ecosystem/platform.
That would be a cool story bro..