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VR needs to grow up and be less unique

If you look where VR apps are stumbling, they're the problems of immature technology. We've all been given a big new shiny tool, we've got some good ideas, but people aren't on the same page about how to use it. Am I saying we need to start copying each other? Yes I am.

The trick is that it's hard to know what works and what doesn't without someone trying it. It doesn't have to be you. As soon as someone hits on an idea that sticks, it will be the expectation, and a big part of designing good, usable apps is trying not violate expectations.

Let's take a look at regular, boring computer programs. These days, user interfaces are pretty much the same - and that's a really good thing. Even if you've never used program X before, you know where "open file" will be, how to close it, how to use tabs, where to find help if you need it, and so on.

Back in the early days, however ... it was the Wild West. Any of those early apps could have been the next big thing, but when a technology's been out for a few years, standards start to emerge, and everyone benefits. Want a concrete example? Look at Google Docs - their interface is like a simpler Microsoft Office interface. They could have gone with something radically different, but being different is bad when it comes to making things intuitive.

So look, we're still in those early days of experimentation. Over time, one or two apps will rise above the rest and be ruthlessly copied - and that's what needs to happen for VR to mature.

When users download a new iPhone app, they will usually have a general sense of the interaction options available to them: tap here, pinch this, swipe that, presto! Your Uber is on the way. However, there are currently no globally accepted “best practices” for UX design and interactivity for VR and AR. As such, in every new VR or AR app that comes out, users have to go through a steeper-than-average learning curve to gain a basic level of competence.

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