Inside the Apple Vision Pro labs
As CEO of Flexibits, the team behind successful apps like Fantastical and Cardhop, Michael Simmons has spent more than a decade minding every last facet of his team’s work. But when he brought Fantastical to the Apple Vision Pro labs in Cupertino this summer and experienced it for the first time on the device, he felt something he wasn’t expecting.
“It was like seeing Fantastical for the first time,” he says. “It felt like I was part of the app.” That sentiment has been echoed by developers around the world. Since debuting in early August, the Apple Vision Pro labs have hosted developers and designers like Simmons in London, Munich, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, and Cupertino. During the day-long lab appointment, people can test their apps, get hands-on experience, and work with Apple experts to get their questions answered. Developers can apply to attend if they have a visionOS app in active development or an existing iPadOS or iOS app they’d like to test on Apple Vision Pro.
For his part, Simmons saw Fantastical work right out of the box. He describes the labs as “a proving ground” for future explorations and a chance to push software beyond its current bounds. “A bordered screen can be limiting. Sure, you can scroll, or have multiple monitors, but generally speaking, you’re limited to the edges,” he says. “Experiencing spatial computing not only validated the designs we’d been thinking about — it helped us start thinking not just about left to right or up and down, but beyond borders at all.”
And as not just CEO but the lead product designer (and the guy who “still comes up with all these crazy ideas”), he came away from the labs with a fresh batch of spatial thoughts. “Can people look at a whole week spatially? Can people compare their current day to the following week? If a day is less busy, can people make that day wider? And then, what if like you have the whole week wrap around you in 360 degrees?” he says. “I could probably — not kidding — talk for two hours about this.”