Building Braze

A New Era of Customer Engagement: Braze Announces visionOS Support

By Jeriel Ng May 23, 2024

With the recent launch of the Vision Pro and its visionOS operating system, Apple has done more than release a new hardware product—they’ve introduced the concept of spatial computing to a wide range of consumers as well as to the Marketing and Product teams that serve them. But while there has been plenty of attention paid to the Vision Pro’s impressive specifications, the fact of the matter is that spatial computing and Apple visionOS have much broader possible implications.

Here at Braze, we make a point of optimizing our SDKs to support new capabilities as they become available. To that end, we recently introduced support for visionOS in version 8.0.0 of our Swift iOS SDK, allowing Braze customers to begin exploring what’s now possible with this emerging technology in connection with their customer engagement efforts. The exciting part? Thanks to this update, marketers can begin to engage their users via spatial computing, using many of the same customer engagement tools you’ve come to love from existing digital platforms, including in-app messages and Content Cards.

To get started, let’s take a look at what spatial computing is, how Braze is supporting this new type of platform, and what the potential implications are for customer engagement.

What is spatial computing?

The concept of spatial computing isn’t a brand new one; in fact, it’s manifested in various forms and under various names in the past—including virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR). However, Apple’s Vision Pro device is innovative in its approach, aiming to encompass all of these paradigms within a single, cohesive whole.

At its core is a simple idea: Spatial computing should allow people to move past simply interacting with their phone or computer via a two-dimensional surface, and instead open up the ability to have three-dimensional experiences with their devices. Uniquely, this platform doesn’t prescribe how it should be used, but rather lays out what kinds of experiences it can support.

Even more exciting, visionOS makes it possible for Apple users to engage with existing iPhone and iPad apps via Vision Pro, opening up spatial computing possibilities and allowing consumers to interact with familiar apps in new ways.

Supporting visionOS in existing mobile apps

For brands that already have iOS apps, this new platform provides an opportunity to extend the app experiences beyond mobile and into the spatial computing realm. But there are some key differences between the kinds of apps that can be used with visionOS that marketers need to understand in order to make the best possible use of the technology.

In essence, apps that can be used for visionOS can be thought of in terms of two distinct support classes:

  • Apple Vision-specific apps that are designed to fully leverage the capabilities of the visionOS SDK

  • Mobile apps designed under the Designed for iPad umbrella, which are unmodified iOS apps ported to visionOS

The upshot is that while both sorts of apps will function within visionOS, one type is fundamentally designed with the Vision Pro in mind, while the other is an opportunity for brands to start expanding onto this new platform through an iterative approach.

Whether you’re building a net-new app or you have existing iOS apps that you’re looking to make available on Vision Pro, you need to ensure that you’ve added visionOS as a distribution platform in your App Store Connect dashboard.

One exciting thing about this approach? Since the latest versions of the Braze iOS SDK are compatible with visionOS, using your existing messaging channels on Vision Pro is as simple as importing the Braze product into your apps, the same way you’ve done with other platforms in the past.

Something else to keep in mind: Apps using the Designed for iPad path will appear under the “Compatible Apps” folder on your home screen, whereas visionOS-native apps will appear front-and-center amongst the icons outside that folder. Accordingly, when developing apps for visionOS compatibility, consider which category best suits your business case.

Looking for guidance on designing visionOS apps? Check out Apple’s guidelines on designing for visionOS.

Customer engagement using visionOS: What’s possible—and what to think about

With any new digital platform, marketers have to think about how it can be used to engage and drive stronger relationships with their customers. But to do that effectively, brands have to think through the specific technical capabilities that a given technology allows and how that can tie into their overall customer engagement efforts.

With visionOS and the Vision Pro, a whole new world of spatial computing-connected customer engagement is opening up—and it’s building on existing programs and strategies that marketers are already doing in other platforms and channels.

A 3-D render of an iPad Pro displayed via augmented reality (AR)

What does that look like in practice? Consider Apple’s long-time practice of allowing potential buyers to view their products using AR, making it possible for users to conceptualize how these pieces of hardware might appear in their homes. With the launch of visionOS, it’s now easier for consumers to take advantage of these capabilities, allowing them to use the Vision Pro to easily view these objects from all angles in real time. Using the same approach, this innovation also has the potential to allow shopping apps to experiment with 3-D renderings of products in their own home, creating a new kind of digital-driven free trial.

The potential doesn’t begin and end with shopping implications. We’re already starting to see filmed entertainment take on new forms with the introduction of immersive video, something that has become a signature element of Apple TV+ and its efforts to provide users with a different type of viewing experience. This approach reflects the potential for Vision Pro to support more involving, more immersive content experiences that could drive deeper engagement—after all, the closer you can bring your customers to the content you’re serving up, the more opportunities you have to create powerful, lasting experiences that drive sustained impact.

These use cases are just the tip of the iceberg, but they do provide brands with models that can help them conceptualize what it would look like to take full advantage of spatial computing’s potential.

As you start thinking through the use cases for this new platform, it’s important to take the time to really conceptualize the realities of spatial computing and its implications for the experiences you can serve up to your customers. Ultimately, the thing that makes visionOS so impactful is the way it provides you with access to your users’ immersive space, making it possible to engage them in new ways that extend beyond a single screen.

As this platform grows more popular, we expect to see brands building out new spatial UIs for their apps powered by the Braze platform’s data models. This approach makes it possible for marketers to re-fit their existing Content Card and in-app message models to media that is more suited for the dimension supported by visionOS.

What would that experience be like? Think of it like bringing billboards and other similar surfaces into the digital space. Where people and businesses might once have posted advertisements on a bulletin board in a town square, this technology makes it possible to reimagine that experience, serving up Content Cards in a bidirectional scrolling view that mimics a board of digital flyers, each one directing people via deep links to different aspects of your app experience. Alternatively, you could display your existing in-app messages in a new form, modeling the experiences after the signage that glows and pops up across Times Square.

The possibilities are almost endless. And the important thing to do right now is to start dreaming up approaches that use this new technology to enhance your customer experience and deepen relationships with your users.

Rethinking customer engagement in a spatial computing world

As brands continue to explore the new frontier created by visionOS, we expect them to discover new ways that their users are interacting via the Vision Pro (and equivalent platforms) and to adjust the experiences they’re serving up to match those behavior patterns. Over time, these users will come to expect their software to feel native to the hardware they’re using it on—most of all, they will likely be looking for a clear reason to use an app in a 3-D space, rather than on a phone or other platform they’re already familiar with.

That means that while existing iOS apps can be ported as-is to visionOS, we expect to see more and more brands creating visionOS-native apps that leverage tools provided by Apple to expand immersive functionality through frameworks like RealityKit and ARKit. Just as iOS introduced its own design and interaction language to the world of mobile computing, we expect that visionOS will continue to refine its own input and output methods over time. Accordingly, it will likely become increasingly important for brands to find ways to adapt in-app experiences to fit the particular parameters of visionOS to provide customer experiences that feel valuable and meaningful to the people experiencing them.

And as all of this takes place, Braze is committed to understanding and expanding first-class support for spatial contexts in customer engagement as and when it’s possible.

Interested in learning more about what features Braze can currently support on visionOS? Check out our updated visionOS documentation for a closer look.

Jeriel Ng

Jeriel Ng is a Senior Software Engineer I at Braze.

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