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YouTube is building a native app for Apple Vision Pro

Published Feb 5th, 2024 5:20PM EST
Apple Vision Pro showing the wearer's eyes
Image: Apple Inc.

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When the Vision Pro was released, there were a number of big companies missing a native app on the platform. YouTube, Spotify, and Netflix can only be accessed through the Safari browser on the device, setting up new owners with a subpar experience for some of their most beloved services. Thankfully, it seems that at least one of those three is breaking ranks.

In an email to Nilay Patel at The Verge, YouTube spokesperson Jessica Gibby confirmed that the company now plans to release its own native app for the Vision Pro. According to Gibby, a native Vision Pro app is “on our roadmap,” but she didn’t share a release date.

“We’re excited to see Vision Pro launch and we’re supporting it by ensuring YouTube users have a great experience in Safari. We do not have any specific plans to share at this time, but can confirm that a Vision Pro app is on our roadmap.”

Patel notes that, even if YouTube does release its own native app for the Vision Pro, it will struggle to bring its existing 3D and 360-degree content to the platform. Apple spokesperson Jackie Roy told Patel in his review of the headset that “much of this content was created for devices that do not deliver a high-quality spatial experience. In some cases, this content could also cause motion discomfort. We’ve focused our efforts on delivering the best spatial media experience possible including spatial photos and videos, Apple Immersive Video, and 3D movies available on Apple TV.”

Apple Vision Pro customerImage source: Apple Inc.

While YouTube could build a native app for the Vision Pro, there’s already one developer that beat them to the punch. Christian Selig, the developer of the beloved Apollo for Reddit app that shut down recently, whipped up a third-party YouTube app called Juno for the headset. The app costs $4.99 and gives users the full native experience that Google hasn’t built yet.

Selig says that he built Juno because, as a Vision Pro user himself, the YouTube experience on Safari in the Vision Pro just wasn’t cutting it. So, he used code from Apollo to get things started, and — something, something, something — a Vision Pro app was born.

YouTube is probably one of the parts of the internet I consume the most, so I was more than a little sad when YouTube announced that they don’t have plans to build a visionOS app, and disabled the option to load the iPad app. This leaves you with Safari, and the website is okay, but definitely doesn’t feel like a visionOS app. Couple that with visionOS not having the option to add websites to your Home Screen, and YouTube isn’t that convenient on visionOS by default.

Playing YouTube via Juno on the Vision Pro.
Playing YouTube via Juno on the Vision Pro. Image source: Christian Selig

There are some limitations with Juno right now. While users can see recommendations, playlists, and subscriptions, it does not yet show comments and captions — those could be coming in the future. Selig says he’s also working on environments and multiview support. 

We’ll see how long it takes for YouTube to release its own native app for the Vision Pro. The app will certainly be free (save for the YouTube Premium subscription that the company will love to sell inside of it). In the meantime, the third-party developer community is here to save the day.

Joe Wituschek Tech News Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Tech News Contributor for BGR.

With expertise in tech that spans over 10 years, Joe covers the technology industry's breaking news, opinion pieces and reviews.