Just paid $3,500 for the Apple Vision Pro? We’ve got some bad news about the apps

Apple Vision Pro
(Image credit: Future)

If you’ve coughed up $3,500 for an Apple Vision Pro headset, the first thing you’ll probably want to do is start downloading apps from the App Store. You can’t do much without a decent array of apps, right? Unfortunately it looks like more than half of the available Vision Pro-exclusive apps will require extra payment.

This news comes from app intelligence firm Appfigures (via TechCrunch), which found that 52% of Vision Pro-exclusive apps require upfront payment. That means no downloading it for free and being subjected to ads or in-app purchases as a result.

For reference, Appfigures claims that just 5% of apps on the wider App Store require upfront payment. Which suggests the Vision Pro will be a throwback to those days when software cost you actual money before you were allowed to use it. The report also notes that 35% of Vision Pro-only apps don’t monetize at all, and only 13% offered some kind of subscription. 

These stats don’t include other iOS and iPad apps that are compatible with the headset. Whether we’re talking about apps that have been modified specifically for the Vision Pro or those that have been left unchanged. 

Once you widen the parameters only 17% of apps were paid downloads, while 58% monetized with a subscription. Which is quite a big change, even if the percentage of paid downloads far exceeds those on iPhones and iPads. 

The question here is, why such a big change in how apps are monetized? It could be that developers building Vision Pro-specific apps want to recoup some of their development costs up front — rather than relying on other methods that require active user participation.

Apple Vision Pro multitasking

(Image credit: Apple)

TechCrunch notes Juno, a $5 Vision Pro YouTube client from Apollo for Reddit developer Christian Sellig, has already paid off the cost of Sellig’s Vision Pro. So there’s certainly some merit to doing things this way, especially if developers are offering access to a service that doesn’t have a native Vision Pro app.

For Vision Pro users, this means that you may need to fork out some money for a bunch of the headset’s exclusive apps. Appfigures notes that the average price for an app is $5.67, with the majority costing under $10. But some of them are more expensive, like the $98 interactive periodic table of elements.

Appfigures notes that the average price for an app is $5.67, with the majority costing under $10.

That’s the kind of price that instantly reminded me of the official TomTom app for iPhone. Back in 2009, when TomTom was the king of in-car satellite navigation, the official app cost $100. These days it’s free for a year, after which you’ll need to subscribe for $20-$80 a year depending on the vehicle you drive.

Sadly we don’t know how successful Vision Pro apps are right now, since Apple has pulled those apps from the App Store’s Top Charts. Which is definitely going to help new headset users figure out which apps are actually worth using and paying for.

There’s no doubt that as more people buy the Vision Pro, and more apps become available, things will shift. Whether that means an increase in subscription-based models, or an influx of in-app purchases isn’t clear. For now, though, while you may have to pay for some of the best Apple Vision Pro apps, at least you know it’s a one time thing.

More from Tom's Guide

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.