How to Design for Reality

Julian Park

June 7, 2023

bezel 3D_apple reality pro_ar spatial computing
bezel 3D_apple reality pro_ar spatial computing

With the newly announced Apple Vision Pro and the dawn of the spatial computing era, I wanted to share some thoughts on what this means for the design community, for those both familiar and new to the space.

This week’s announcement seems to be the closest thing to the iPhone moment since its launch in 2007, where Apple enters into a product category and begins a long product line with growing mainstream adoption.

It’s the next logical step in humanity’s journey towards fully immersive content. From the printing press to monochrome photos to audio recordings to color films, the one consistent trend in technological communication has been the increase in immersion. Video is more immersive than pictures, and of course, a picture is worth a thousand words. It speaks to our core human desire to immerse oneself into compelling experiences.

The transition from 2D to 3D computing that we are witnessing in this moment reminds me of a particular scene in The Wizard of Oz (1939), Dorothy walking through the door from a sepia world into a technicolor one.

It wonderfully illustrates how creativity and art can amplify the impact of a technological advancement. The door opens wide, the hills are green, the flowers come to life in color, and the rainbows finally look like rainbows. A distant world not yet discovered is now at our fingertips, and in a similar way, I can’t wait to immerse myself into such beautiful spatial experiences.

However there’s a problem… where’s all the spatial content?

Throughout Apple’s WWDC event, most shots of visionOS centered around existing core apps like Messages and TV, which were near-direct ports of flat apps into flat windows. The third dimension was rarely used, if at all, for many app experiences. While it’s true that individual panels best convey information when flat (e.g. compared to 3D text everywhere), I believe the lack of spatial content points to how the entire digital product design industry has revolved around flat rectangular screens for the past several decades.

In order to bootstrap the content ecosystem for visionOS, Apple is porting over its vast ocean of flat iPhone and iPad apps, just like the early days of the iPad app ecosystem. Remember that period of time when there weren’t enough iPad-native apps, so a lot of iPhone apps were directly ported over to the iPad screen in low resolution? It looks like we’re entering a similar period for Vision-native content.

Apple iPad and Apple iPhone_bezel blog

The success of the new Apple platform comes down to content creation. Killer apps that compel people to wear the headset on their face. This is concerning because the AR/VR industry is not known for easy creation tools that designers and developers can pick up to build experiences.

So how do you design content for this new platform?

The truth is that most AR/VR content that could have been created in this world are still trapped in people’s minds. During my time building software at Oculus, I’ve worked with many designers who didn’t have an easy way to turn their 3D concepts into reality. Learning a game engine like Unity or Unreal wasn’t really an option due to its requirements around programming. It makes sense because asking designers to design spatial experiences in Unity is like asking mobile app designers to design in Xcode. This is still the case for many folks in the industry today.

bezel 3d_design tools_figma_unity

The key missing piece here is a tool for anyone to easily design spatial experiences. A tool that teams coming from 2D design tools can quickly learn and use. Now, what should this tool look like? Wouldn’t it be great if the tool is…

  • Easy-to-use for designers. No code. Product designers can focus on the user experience, instead of game development with C# scripting.

  • Accessible across all platforms, including both laptops and headsets. People use computers of all kinds and operating systems!

  • Multiplayer for team collaboration. Design is a team sport, and the tool needs to reflect that.

Where could we find such a thing?

Enter Bezel

When Apple introduced the iPad in 2010, app designs were only slightly modified from the iPhone (larger screen allowed for more UI space), and design tools roughly stayed the same. This time, as Apple introduces the Vision Pro, the design tools cannot stay the same — creators now have access to all three dimensions of the world we live in. Designers now need a tool that is native to the platform.

Well, the team at Bezel has been building exactly that. We bet early on the accessibility and power of the web: an open platform that has seen incredible growth over recent years. Given that Apple Vision Pro also supports WebXR among other headsets, you can now design in your browser and instantly have a prototype link for any headset.

bezel 3D_design tools_figma_unity_2

We have been using Bezel to design our own 3D features, and we’re loving it. It turns out that other design teams in the AR/VR industry also love using Bezel, as I’ve heard from designers all over the world creating spatial experiences for apps, game levels, exhibition halls, even ship bridges! Here are some of the wonderful designs and prototypes created by the Bezel community since its beta launch earlier this year.

bezel 3D_community project_arvr design

I’m excited to see Bezel turn your beautiful spatial experiences from imagination into reality. Check out our tutorials; we have a lot more coming soon to guide you along the way. Join our Discord to share feedback; we need your help to make it even easier to design spatial apps!

It’s an exciting time for spatial design because we’re still in the early days of figuring out what the native user experience feels like. It was years after the iPhone launched that apps collectively established design patterns like swiping and pull-to-refresh. When was the last time you could truly push the creative boundaries of a computing platform?

With the newly announced Apple Vision Pro and the dawn of the spatial computing era, I wanted to share some thoughts on what this means for the design community, for those both familiar and new to the space.

This week’s announcement seems to be the closest thing to the iPhone moment since its launch in 2007, where Apple enters into a product category and begins a long product line with growing mainstream adoption.

It’s the next logical step in humanity’s journey towards fully immersive content. From the printing press to monochrome photos to audio recordings to color films, the one consistent trend in technological communication has been the increase in immersion. Video is more immersive than pictures, and of course, a picture is worth a thousand words. It speaks to our core human desire to immerse oneself into compelling experiences.

The transition from 2D to 3D computing that we are witnessing in this moment reminds me of a particular scene in The Wizard of Oz (1939), Dorothy walking through the door from a sepia world into a technicolor one.

It wonderfully illustrates how creativity and art can amplify the impact of a technological advancement. The door opens wide, the hills are green, the flowers come to life in color, and the rainbows finally look like rainbows. A distant world not yet discovered is now at our fingertips, and in a similar way, I can’t wait to immerse myself into such beautiful spatial experiences.

However there’s a problem… where’s all the spatial content?

Throughout Apple’s WWDC event, most shots of visionOS centered around existing core apps like Messages and TV, which were near-direct ports of flat apps into flat windows. The third dimension was rarely used, if at all, for many app experiences. While it’s true that individual panels best convey information when flat (e.g. compared to 3D text everywhere), I believe the lack of spatial content points to how the entire digital product design industry has revolved around flat rectangular screens for the past several decades.

In order to bootstrap the content ecosystem for visionOS, Apple is porting over its vast ocean of flat iPhone and iPad apps, just like the early days of the iPad app ecosystem. Remember that period of time when there weren’t enough iPad-native apps, so a lot of iPhone apps were directly ported over to the iPad screen in low resolution? It looks like we’re entering a similar period for Vision-native content.

Apple iPad and Apple iPhone_bezel blog

The success of the new Apple platform comes down to content creation. Killer apps that compel people to wear the headset on their face. This is concerning because the AR/VR industry is not known for easy creation tools that designers and developers can pick up to build experiences.

So how do you design content for this new platform?

The truth is that most AR/VR content that could have been created in this world are still trapped in people’s minds. During my time building software at Oculus, I’ve worked with many designers who didn’t have an easy way to turn their 3D concepts into reality. Learning a game engine like Unity or Unreal wasn’t really an option due to its requirements around programming. It makes sense because asking designers to design spatial experiences in Unity is like asking mobile app designers to design in Xcode. This is still the case for many folks in the industry today.

bezel 3d_design tools_figma_unity

The key missing piece here is a tool for anyone to easily design spatial experiences. A tool that teams coming from 2D design tools can quickly learn and use. Now, what should this tool look like? Wouldn’t it be great if the tool is…

  • Easy-to-use for designers. No code. Product designers can focus on the user experience, instead of game development with C# scripting.

  • Accessible across all platforms, including both laptops and headsets. People use computers of all kinds and operating systems!

  • Multiplayer for team collaboration. Design is a team sport, and the tool needs to reflect that.

Where could we find such a thing?

Enter Bezel

When Apple introduced the iPad in 2010, app designs were only slightly modified from the iPhone (larger screen allowed for more UI space), and design tools roughly stayed the same. This time, as Apple introduces the Vision Pro, the design tools cannot stay the same — creators now have access to all three dimensions of the world we live in. Designers now need a tool that is native to the platform.

Well, the team at Bezel has been building exactly that. We bet early on the accessibility and power of the web: an open platform that has seen incredible growth over recent years. Given that Apple Vision Pro also supports WebXR among other headsets, you can now design in your browser and instantly have a prototype link for any headset.

bezel 3D_design tools_figma_unity_2

We have been using Bezel to design our own 3D features, and we’re loving it. It turns out that other design teams in the AR/VR industry also love using Bezel, as I’ve heard from designers all over the world creating spatial experiences for apps, game levels, exhibition halls, even ship bridges! Here are some of the wonderful designs and prototypes created by the Bezel community since its beta launch earlier this year.

bezel 3D_community project_arvr design

I’m excited to see Bezel turn your beautiful spatial experiences from imagination into reality. Check out our tutorials; we have a lot more coming soon to guide you along the way. Join our Discord to share feedback; we need your help to make it even easier to design spatial apps!

It’s an exciting time for spatial design because we’re still in the early days of figuring out what the native user experience feels like. It was years after the iPhone launched that apps collectively established design patterns like swiping and pull-to-refresh. When was the last time you could truly push the creative boundaries of a computing platform?