Can Zoom’s New VisionOS App Save Apple’s Vision Pro Launch?

Move over Meta, Zoom's new visionOS app replaces in-person meetings with avatars and immersive backdrops.

Work meetings could be getting a whole lot more immersive in 2024, thanks to a new Zoom app designed specifically for Apple's Vision Pro VR/AR headset.

Zoom will land on visionOS, Apple's Vision Pro operating system, on February 2 – the same day the hardware itself is released. It boasts a number of unique features including “personas”, which are AI-powered avatars that mirror your facial and hand movements, as well as customizable backdrops and 3D virtual object sharing.

The upcoming launch represents an exciting leap forward in augmented workplace technology. Before you start rejecting meeting requests that don't take place in the virtual realm, here's everything you need to know about Zoom's imminent launch for the Apple Vision Pro headset.

Zoom Launches New App for visionOS

Zoom is no stranger to a good product update. But as hybrid work becomes the benchmark for most businesses, the maker of one of the best video conferencing apps has decided to up the ante by launching a native app for the Apple Vision Pro.

Announcing the news on its product blog, Zoom said that the new app would “seamlessly blend video conferencing with users' physical space” and coincide with the long awaited release of Apple's Vision Pro hardware.

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The pending app bears a lot of similarities to Apple Vision Pro's FaceTime app, by replacing the faces of users with hyper-realistic avatars. However, despite the mixed bag of features that Zoom's app offers, it's being marketed as a workplace solution first, more akin to Meta's Horizon Workrooms and Spatial.

New Zoom Features on Vision Pro and visionOS

One feature garnering a lot of attention online is an avatar function called Personas. Personas use facial scanning technology to create an AI-powered ‘spatial representation' of users. This avatar mimics the facial and hand movements of users and is displayed to other Apple Vision Pros participants.

Aside from like-like avatars, the app will also transform the meeting environment with its Spatial Zoom experience feature. The capability lets users customize the backdrop of their meetings, and scale the experience to the perfect size.

Other note-worthy features include 3D object-sharing tool, which lets users share and view 3D files, and real-world pinning, which lets users pin up to five Zoom Meeting participants in their physical space. Aside from the app's immersive functions, it's also compatible with Team chat, making it easy for users to share information with colleagues at the drop of a hat.

For white-collar workers who have been dreaming of virtual meetings since the days of Oculus Quest, Zoom's new app will seem like an exciting step forward in augmented workplace technology. However, doubts around the app's format are raising concerns about potential before it's even gone live, as we explore next.

Apple's visionOS is Still Lacking Major Native Apps

While Zoom's new VR app will be native to Apple's visionOS platform, it's still something of anomaly ahead of the Vision Pro's launch this year.

The iconic Californian tech giant recently announced that while Zoom, Disney Plus, Peacock, Temu and many more will debut native Vision Pro apps at its launch, other household names like YouTube and Netflix are yet to commit to develop new apps for visionOS.

Since these apps haven't been redesigned with Apple's VR operating system in mind, visionOS users may be forced to instead rely on ports of existing iPadOS/iOS apps. These will be made automatically available on the visionOS App Store where a native app hasn't been developer, unless the developer remove them.

The issue with this is that these ported apps won't make use of visionOS's immersive technology, and will likely suffer when it comes to design, ease of use, and quality. It's thought that streaming providers like Netflix and YouTube will continue to hold out, given they complete with Apple's own services on a number of fronts.

A new AR-ready Zoom app is great news for the handful of people whose work calls are about to get more interesting. Unfortunately, it doesn't speak to Apple's biggest problem with the Vision Pro, which is its current lack of widespread appeal.

When it comes to this, even the likes of YouTube and Netflix don't come close to justifying the extortionate price tag of Apple's new $3,500 headset. Quite possibly, nothing ever will.

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Written by:
Isobel O'Sullivan (BSc) is a senior writer at Tech.co with over four years of experience covering business and technology news. Since studying Digital Anthropology at University College London (UCL), she’s been a regular contributor to Market Finance’s blog and has also worked as a freelance tech researcher. Isobel’s always up to date with the topics in employment and data security and has a specialist focus on POS and VoIP systems.
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