On Vision Pro

Note: This post was hastily written on my iPhone while traveling so please forgive the typos.

As I write this, I’m sitting at an airport, on my way to New York to attend a developer lab with Apple to try out Dark Noise on Vision Pro. This time tomorrow I don’t think I’ll be able to really share my thoughts on the product until after its release “early next year”.

And boy… do I have thoughts.

So I want to write them all down. Not as some smart tech insider who understands the ecosystem and can predict how this new product category will succeed or fail in the market. But more as a time capsule to capture the thoughts of a random iOS developer at this point in time. This will probably be an overly long and unorganized rambling… so you’ve been warned.

To cut to the chase… I don’t understand this product. Not just this expensive V1 pseudo-devkit they’re releasing next year. But also the whole future version of this overall product category, even after a bunch of incremental improvements.

Before I explain myself, I want to be clear. I am extremely excited about it all. It looks incredible from a technical and design perspective. It genuinely feels deeply thought through from the privacy angle, overal experience, and of course the classic Apple fit and finish. From what’s been shared publicly so far, everyone who’s worked on it should be extremely proud. Heck, I’m flying to New York just to spend a day trying it out and trying to understand how my app fits on this new platform.

But I don’t understand it as a mass market product.

Let’s start with what does makes sense to me.

Home Theater

Vision Pro looks incredible for watching movies. As long as you’re doing it alone anyway. No doubt it’s going to be hard to beat immersing yourself in a beautiful environment, looking at an enormous screen, and listening to wonderful simulated Dolby Atmos surround sound while sitting on your couch.

Even someone like me, who’s rarely watching a movie completely alone, will enjoy this for the occasional show I watch on my own on my iPad while my wife sits next to me in the living room watching something else. The pass through feature means I won’t feel totally isolated since I can still easily see her and can presumably pause and easily talk to her at any point (as long as the weird outward facing eyes on the headset don’t freak her out too much 😅).

And if the experience is actually good while on a plane? That would be amazing! Assuming it’s culturally acceptable and I wouldn’t feel like a total weirdo putting a big screen on my face.

But a $3,500 super nice personal home theater isn’t a mass market product. And that brings us to gaming.


Sitting here in 2023, gaming is the obvious area of focus for a VR headset. So far, it’s the only place where VR has really found any product market fit, with Meta and Valve leading the charge.

Apple doesn’t seem to be addressing this market… at all? The gaming segment of the Vision Pro announcement video simply showed that you could pair a normal Playstation controller and play flat 2D Apple Arcade games on a big screen floating in front of you.

This feels completely bizarre to me. The iPhone has been a massive success in gaming, so I figured they would, at the very least, support some kind of 3rd Party VR hand controllers and allow VR games made for the Quest and Vive to be ported over to Vision Pro? It seems like it’d be the best non-tethered VR gaming system by a decent margin.

But to be fair, VR gaming hasn’t exactly been a game-changing platform. People buy them, and enjoy them. But they’re tiny platforms compared to traditional TV consoles like the Playstation, Xbox, and Switch.


A frequently cited use case for VR as a platform is better meetings. A lot of digital ink has been spilled about how much more “presence” or “immersion” VR can provide when on a virtual meeting compared to a traditional conference call platform like Zoom or FaceTime.

This has never really made any sense to me. Maybe I’m being a luddite here, but even the most advanced version of a future VR based meeting experience I can imagine will still be worse than a mediocre web cam based video call. There’s sooooo much information being conveyed by simply seeing an actual representation of a person at that point in time (in the context of their space at that point in time).

“Ooh did you get a haircut, looks great!”

“You look really tired, you doing ok?”

“Whoa it’s dark there, is it storming there?”

These types of interactions happen constantly for me and help build a relationship and further trust with my team/family/friends. Losing that information resolution would require some kind of major gain from the technology. And a “feeling of presence” is difficult for me to imagine overcoming those drawbacks. But I’ve also never tired it myself, so maybe I’ll be surprised.

I do think there is a story around the “presence” thing where VR could enable a group meeting experience where multiple people could be in the same room and sustain multiple, separate concurrent conversations, which traditional video conferencing doesn’t really allow for currently. But that’s definitely not what I’ve seen from anybody so far.


This is the one area where I can see a sliver of a compelling story for the future of VisionOS as a larger platform than just a personal home theater.

I can imagine a world where I sit at my home office, usually alone, and instead of staring at a desk full of monitors, I put on a headset and have an infinite canvas of big windows and maybe even some 3d elements all around me.

This is an experience the V1 Vision Pro can somewhat provide. Though the limited power means it couldn’t replace my Mac, and the current iteration of Mac mirroring limits you to a single 4K window. But I can project out a future of incremental improvements that get there. Maybe I could plug my battery pack directly into a beefier Mac for all of my heavier loads like Video Editing. And I’d probably still use a keyboard and trackpad. But that sounds like a nice experience and a much less cluttered desk.

But, importantly, this still wouldn’t replace my laptop. I’m not going to use this when my wife and I are planning a vacation, where we both are constantly showing each other our screens. Or take it to a coffee shop. Or take meeting notes in a customer meeting.

But as a solo use only desktop enhancement (or even replacement if your workload isn’t super heavy), yeah sure this would be a great experience. But how big is that market? And the price would have to drop way lower if that’s the only story right?

Full AR Glasses

“But wait!” I hear you say. “This isn’t about a VR headset, this is just the stepping stone to the eventual AR Glasses!”

This is a framing of this product that’s been around forever, but I don’t think that product is even on a 10 year time horizon from now. I’m not even sure we’ll ever see that product.

As far as I’m aware, there doesn’t exist a display technology that’s transparent, with the the ability to fully obscure your view (to render blacks), contains a backlight (to render whites), and can move the focus distance feet away from your eyes. I can imagine a version of this current product that’s been miniaturized down enough to look like some old-time motorcycle goggles or something, but I find it difficult to believe AR glasses, the way many people have described them, are remotely in the near future.

So what now?

I don’t know! Maybe this is exactly how people have felt about other revolutionary devices. I think, at the very least, Apple and others pursuing VR/AR are at least inventing a lot of cool technology that will make sense in other types of products with clear product market fit. It sure feels like the Spatial Audio features of AirPods may have come out of some of the work for VisionOS. Maybe it’ll be like Google Wave. A product not long for this world, but some innovations that live on to power other products.

Either way I’m truly excited to see how it all plays out.

Dark Noise Interactive Widgets & iOS 17 Support

Dark Noise Interactive Widgets

Today I’ve released Dark Noise 3.2 with support for iOS 17 and the all new interactive widgets.

Dark Noise widgets have been rebuilt from the ground up to support the all new interactive widgets in iOS 17. This means you can start and stop a sound right from your widget without needing to open the app.

Dark Noise Interactive Widgets Screenshots

There are now 8 different widget’s to choose from, each with 12 themes you can configure between. The small widgets all work wonderfully with iOS 17’s new StandBy mode, making it easier than ever to start your favorite ambient noise when you go to sleep.

Dark Noise 3.2 is available on the App Store to try for free.

Launched Diary: Dark Noise 3.0

Inspired by David Smith’s wonderful Launch Diary episode of Under the Radar I tried something a little fun last week and recorded an audio diary of my experience launching the big Dark Noise 3.0 update.

My original thought was that it would be a member-only episode for the Launched Patreon, but after listening I decided I wanted it to be a little more accessible than that. The episode is available to listen to for free and Launched members will see it automatically appear in their podcast player if they’re subscribed to their member Launched Pro feed.

Hopefully you find this helpful, or at least interesting! If folks like this type of thing I’d like to do more things like this for patrons in the future. If you have any ideas I’d love to hear them.

You can listen to the episode (and become a member if you want to support the show 😉) on the Launched Patreon.

Dark Noise 3.0: White noise, freed

Today Dark Noise 3.0 is finally released on the App Store.

The biggest change in Dark Noise 3.0 is the introduction of a new free tier. This free tier includes access to 8 free sounds, as well as full support for infinitely looping sounds, Shortcuts, Siri integration, the Timer, and all the deep Apple integrations you’ve come to expect from Dark Noise. This makes the app more accessible than it’s ever been before!

For those who want more features and sounds, there is Dark Noise Pro. This optional subscription or lifetime in-app purchase unlocks over 50 sounds, the ability to create custom mixes, alternate app icons, and alternate premium themes. With Dark Noise Pro, you can customize your white noise experience to your liking.

Dark Noise Tier Comparisons

I’ve been working on this update for quite a while, and a significant portion of that time was spent ensuring existing customers are taken care of. Customers who purchased Dark Noise before this update are called Dark Originals. At launch, they will have all Dark Noise Pro features unlocked automatically. There may be features introduced in the future that require a Dark Noise Pro subscription, but for now Dark Originals will receive all of the same features as Dark Noise Pro.

Dark Noise 3.0 also begins the process of improving the experience of Dark Noise with headphones or nicer speakers. This update includes 4 high quality stereo remasters of existing sounds: Rain, Thunderstorm, Beach, and Airplane Interior. Future updates will include more remasters as well as a new focus on increasing the variety of sounds in Dark Noise.

As always, this update includes a plethora of small enhancements and bug fixes including:

  • Newly updated App Icon
  • Rewritten theme picker
  • New Aurora premium theme
  • New Aurora alternate app icon
  • Mac window size restores from previous session

Dark Noise 3.0 is available now on the App Store to download for free! I can’t wait to hear what you all think. If you’re press you can find an extensive press-kit and more details on the release on darknoise.app.

Dark Noise Analytics: March 2023

I recently added some analytics into Dark Noise using the new(ish) privacy-focused analytics tool TelemetryDeck in preparation for my big update that will be adding a free tier. I want to get an understanding of how many users I might be dealing with going forward and some of my future plans lead me to want to understand what features, and sounds users are using most within the app.

It’s been a couple of months now so I have enough data to share some metrics with you all. I think it might be fun to see what changes when I switch to a subscription business model with a free tier. As always, this is meant to be helpful! I don’t know if these numbers are higher than average, or lower than average. This is just one data point that’s hopefully helpful to see, especially for other indie developers.

Alright, let’s start with the high-level stuff.

Dark Noise 2023 Stats Overview

It’s only been a couple of months, but so far Monthly Active Users have hovered right around 11,000 to 12,000 unique users. For reference, App Store Connect’s “Active Last 30 Days” analytics (which are limited to only users who opt-in) shows 4,300 users.

The Daily Active Users is surprisingly consistent at around 2,300 to 2,500 unique users.

Dark Noise 2023 Stats Hourly Active Users

The Hourly Active Users very clearly show peaks around nighttime in North America with a smaller peak in the morning confirming my assumption that a large portion of users are probably playing these sounds to go to sleep. The smaller peak in the morning is most likely because most people pause the app in the background or use the timer feature to automatically stop the sound.

Device Info

Dark Noise 2023 Stats Device Info

Looking at device info, about 1/5th of sessions came from Macs vs iOS which I have to admit surprised me to be that high. Good to keep in mind that the Mac does represent a significant portion of my app’s use.

A little over 90% of sessions came from the latest iOS 16 or macOS 13. This will be interesting to watch as I add a free tier. I think there’s a chance that a more accessible app will get a higher adoption among the less tech-enthusiast crowd which may actually increase the percentage of users I have on older OSs. Also, hello there iOS 17! 👋

Noise Play Counts

Dark Noise 2023 Stats Device Info

Dark Noise 2023 Stats Noise Count Donut

Wow… Brown Noise is king apparently 😅.

I expected some popular sounds and then a long tail, but I definitely didn’t expect Brown Noise to be that dominant. It’s cool to see custom mixes are very popular though. I get a lot of positive feedback about that feature, but I always wondered how popular it was to use by most people.


Dark Noise 2023 Stats Extras

Here are a couple of extra metrics I found interesting. There’s not a lot to analyze here other than it’s nice to have confirmation people really are using these features.

Wrap Up

I’m definitely glad I finally added some light analytics back in the app. I think this will be really helpful in guiding decisions on what features or sounds I should focus on going forward. And while TelemetryDeck is still a little young and rough around the edges, I feel confident in that team’s focus on privacy. And even in the short few months I’ve been using it they’ve dramatically improved the reporting UI.

Hopefully, this is helpful for you all! At the very least I think it’ll be an interesting data point to look back on in a few months after my update to subscriptions and having a free tier. As always, if you have any questions or comments I’d love to hear them on Mastodon or Twitter.