Apple’s AR headset has finally been unveiled after seven years of development, marking a significant moment for the company. The long-awaited product, unlike the speculated Apple television and car, is now confirmed to be real and available.
Apple introduced the highly anticipated AR headset at WWDC today. However, the burning question remains: How much will the Apple Vision Pro cost?
Priced at $3,499, the Apple Vision Pro will be available for purchase in early 2024.
To put it in perspective, Meta recently announced the Quest 3, which carries a price tag of $499, while the Quest 2 is currently retailing at $299. It’s worth noting that Meta’s high-performance headset initially launched at $1,499, although it appears to be available at some retailers for $999.
Unlike Meta’s headsets, the Apple Vision Pro primarily focuses on augmented reality rather than virtual reality. The key distinction lies in the level of immersion, with augmented reality allowing users to leverage the technology while maintaining awareness of their surroundings. Furthermore, the Apple Vision Pro employs hand tracking as a control method, eliminating the necessity for separate handheld devices.
During the introduction of the new headset, Tim Cook emphasized its groundbreaking capabilities, stating, “With Vision Pro, you’re no longer limited by a display.” Unlike previous reports about mixed reality, Apple’s system primarily focuses on augmented reality rather than virtual reality, referring to it as “spatial computing.”
Describing the user interface, Apple likens it to an input device similar to a mouse or trackpad, enabling users to interact with the computing experience in a new way. The appearance of the headset aligns closely with earlier renders, resembling ski goggles and clearly indicating its intended usage indoors rather than outdoors.
The headset is constructed with an aluminum frame and features curved glass at the front. It includes a physical button for image capture and a digital crown for adjustments. A flexible strap at the rear secures it to the wearer’s head, while a visor extends from the display to block out external light. Integrated “audio pods” on the sides offer high-quality sound, utilizing spatial audio technology to create the illusion of different audio sources.
Powering the headset is the standard M2 chip, paired with a new R1 chip responsible for video streaming. The micro-OLED displays boast an impressive 64 pixels in a space roughly equivalent to that of a standard iPhone pixel. To enhance imaging from all angles, the headset incorporates a three-element lens. In collaboration with Zeiss, Apple also provides custom prescription glass inserts rather than accommodating for users’ existing glasses.
A notable feature of the hardware is “EyeSight,” which employs a front-facing display to reveal the wearer’s eyes, compensating for the opaque visor and creating an authentic representation of the user on the curved front glass. This is achieved through an initial facial scan, with the resulting image serving as the user’s avatar when interacting with others wearing the headset.
Although the product is categorized as mixed reality due to the need for on-board passthrough, Apple seems uninterested in engaging in the virtual reality conversation. The emphasis appears to be on work-related functionality, evident from Apple’s focus on features such as email rather than gaming. Remarkably, users can project a version of their Mac desktop in front of them, effectively avoiding the need for a touchscreen Mac.
The opaque display allows the room to darken around images, with Apple particularly highlighting the use of 2D photos taken from the iPhone. The headset is equipped with a built-in 3D camera, enabling users to capture “Spatial” photos and videos. Additionally, there is a movie theater option that leverages the illusion of a full-sized large screen. While gaming is supported, it provides a large screen projection experience rather than true virtual reality, featuring standard games.
Disney stands as the first content partner for the headset, with Bob Iger taking the stage to announce Disney+’s availability at launch. This partnership bodes well for future content experiences. Contrary to earlier rumors about an adapted iPadOS, Apple introduced VisionOS, a new operating system designed specifically for spatial computing. Educational features, including astronomical and health apps, as well as a music creation app, are reminiscent of the iPad’s initial launch.
Apple confirms compatibility with Microsoft Office apps and popular teleconferencing services such as WebEx and Zoom. VisionOS is built on the same framework as iOS and iPadOS, allowing existing apps to be easily ported over. Furthermore, Apple is launching a dedicated App Store for the headset and has partnered with Unity to provide development tools for games, ensuring a superior experience compared to simply porting existing games.
To enhance security, a new version of FaceID called OpticId has been implemented for security features like Apple Pay. The camera data, meanwhile, will be processed onboard.
If you want to get your hands on this revolutionary tech product, you better start saving up because the Apple Vision Pro will sell like hotcakes once it goes on sale!