So far a lot of emphasis has been placed on what the Apple Vision Pro headset will be able to do when it launches — with very little on the apps that will be available. Beyond Apple’s own suite of apps and services, that is. Now we know at least one popular service won’t be getting a dedicated app on the VisionOS platform: Netflix.
According to Mark Gurman’s latest Power On newsletter, Netflix has no plans to build a native app for its platform. Instead users will have to be content with running a version of the Netflix iPad app, which the streamer says will be available.
So far we know that there are two options for apps that want to be in the Vision Pro. Apple has promised us native iPad apps will run on the Vision Pro without modification, though developers can tweak the software if they wish. Alternatively, it’s possible to build a native Vision Pro app from scratch, allowing developers to take full advantage of the headset's capabilities.
Pre-announcement rumors suggested that video content would play a big part in Apple’s plans for the Vision Pro. It’s already confirmed that Disney Plus will have a native Vision Pro app, as will Apple TV Plus, with Gurman also speculating that Apple’s deals with Amazon could see Prime Video get a similar treatment.
However, Netflix is one of the biggest names in the streaming world, and not having a native Vision Pro app could be a blow to Apple. Although the actual damage will all hinge on how well native iPad apps actually run on the Vision Pro without any additional modification.
As The Verge notes, this shouldn’t be a surprise given Netflix's habit of rejecting Apple’s various endeavors in the past. Netflix doesn’t support AirPlay; the company famously pulled all payments from Apple’s in-app payment systems; and you can’t subscribe to the service using Apple TV’s Channels feature.
Of course, there's also the fact that the Apple Vision Pro is a $3,500 headset, and it’s still not clear how popular it’s going to be among the general public. Sure, it’s Apple, whose logo might as well be a license to print money, but you can understand why a big company may not want to invest time and resources in a platform that’s beyond the reach of most people.
It’s a problem Apple is going to have to contend with, and makes support for native iPad apps all the more important in the grand scheme of things. While Vision Pro users won’t be able to enjoy a native Netflix experience anytime soon, they will still be able to watch Netflix in some form.
Gurman speculates that developers may see the Vision Pro’s high price tag as an opportunity, though. In fact, he posits that developers may charge anywhere between $20 and $60 for an app, since they’re catering to people who are willing to spend money. Whether that will work in practice is another matter, but it would at least make up for the resources needed to develop native Vision Pro apps in the first place.
We’ll have to see how that plays out long term, and just how eager developers are to jump on the Vision Pro bandwagon. Sadly, some of us may just have to wait until the rumored cheaper Apple headset is released, bringing the best of VisionOS at a much more affordable price point.