Vision Pro seamlessly balances the task of blending digital content with the physical world along with allowing users to stay present and connected to others.
American tech giant Apple unveiled its first-ever mixed reality headset Apple Vision Pro at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) which kicked off Monday. The much-awaited headset, which is priced at a whopping $3,499, is also Apple’s first major new product category in nearly a decade.
Apple Vision Pro, which is claimed to be the “most advanced personal electronics device ever,” is powered by the world’s first spatial operating system visionOS, featuring a three-dimensional interface that makes digital content look and feel present in a user’s physical world. Meaning, the interface frees apps from the boundaries of display so that they can appear side by side at any scale. This gives users an extraordinary new experience on how they interact with apps, capture photos and videos, enjoy TV shows and movies, and connect with others on FaceTime.
The operating system designed specifically for the MR headset supports the low-latency requirements of spatial computing, which refers to an integration of the digital environment and physical space with virtual or augmented reality experiences. Users of Apple Vision Pro can navigate and interact with the spatial content just with their eyes, hands, and voice. Meaning, users need to simply look at the apps to browse through them, tap their fingers to select, flick their wrist to scroll, and use voice to dictate.
For added control, Apple Vision Pro further supports Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad. This would help users to set up their workspace in a mixed reality setup or bring the capabilities of their MacBook into Vision Pro wirelessly and create an enormous, private, and portable 4K display.
Calling its new device Apple’s first spatial computer, the iPhone maker says that Vision Pro seamlessly balances the task of blending digital content with the physical world along with allowing users to stay present and connected to others. With the feature called “EyeSight,” users can stay connected with those around them even when they are wearing the headset and are fully immersed in the environment. EyeSight lets the user see the person around them while also displaying their eyes by turning transparent. The feature gives visual cues to others about what the user is focused on.
The two ultra-high-resolution displays of Apple Vision Pro further provide engaging entertainment experiences. The headset could transform any space into a personal movie theater with a screen that feels 100 feet wide and an advanced Spatial Audio system. In addition, users can access and at a life-size scale view their entire photo and video library on iCloud. Panorama shots look spectacular when viewed from Apple Vision Pro as such pictures expand and wrap around the user, creating a sense that they are standing right where it was taken.
With the latest Apple device, FaceTime video tiles are also life-size. During a FaceTime call, the wearer of Vision Pro is reflected as a Persona, a digital avatar of themselves that is created using Apple’s advanced machine learning techniques. This avatar will reflect the face and hand movements of the wearer in real time. When new people join, the call simply expands in the room of the user, who can further use apps to collaborate with colleagues on a presentation, browse photos or even watch a movie. Users can choose the level of immersion by twisting a physical dial.
While such MR headsets are usually marketed mainly to gamers, Apple barely mentioned anything about gaming. The tech major simply mentioned that with its latest spatial computing technology Vision Pro users can play more than 100 Apple Arcade games on a screen as large as they want with incredible immersive audio and support for popular game controllers. This move reinstates the notion that Apple’s MR headset could do everything a phone, only bigger and brighter. And maybe in the coming years with rapidly evolving tech, Apple’s MR headset could even be the new iPhone!
Back to Vision Pro. Users can further discover apps and content on the headset’s all-new App Store. The App Store is said to have numerous familiar iPhone and iPad apps that run great and automatically work with Vision Pro. Apple, however, has urged its developer community to take advantage of Vision Pro’s capabilities and operating system by reimagining the existing apps on App Store and designing brand-new app experiences for spatial computing.
Moving on to the design and hardware aspects of Apple Vision Pro, the MR device looks similar to giant ski goggles at first glance. However, when looked closely, it features a singular piece of 3D laminated glass that flows seamlessly into a custom aluminum alloy frame. This frame gently curves to wrap around the user’s face while serving as an attachment point for the Light Seal, which is a barrier designed to prevent external light from entering the headset’s display area. This seal is made of soft textiles. The front and the Head Band of Vision Pro are joined by flexible straps that also ensure audio remains close to the user’s ears. The Head Band is three-dimensionally knitted as a single piece and provides cushioning, breathability, and stretch. The Head Band is available in multiple sizes.
Vision Pro further features an ultra-high-resolution display system that uses micro-OLED technology to pack 23 million pixels across two displays. This is more pixels than a 4K TV for each eye. Furthermore, Apple Vision Pro uses high-speed cameras and a ring of LEDs for its high-performance eye-tracking system. Users with vision correction can use ZEISS Optical Inserts, that magnetically attach to the lenses, for visual fidelity and eye-tracking accuracy. About the headset’s Spatial Audio system, Vision Pro’s speakers are positioned based on the user’s own head and ear geometry to deliver rich Spatial Audio while keeping them aware of their surroundings.
Apple’s long-awaited headset is powered by two chips, M2 and R1. The M2 chip, which is the second generation of Apple silicon for Mac launched last year, runs visionOS and simultaneously efficiently executes advanced computer vision algorithms, and delivers stunning graphics. The brand-new R1 chip, on the other hand, is specifically dedicated to process input from 12 cameras, five sensors, and six microphones, streaming images to the displays within 12 milliseconds. Hence, playing the role of providing the experience of a virtually lag-free, real-time view of the world.
Vision Pro requires an external battery pack that is capable of running for two hours on a single charge, while the headset can be used all day when plugged in. Apple’s idea of having a separate detachable battery indicates its focus on reducing the weight of the headset.
Meanwhile, along with the existing Apple privacy and security features, the tech major has introduced new technologies like a secure authentication system called Optic ID to ensure the safety and control of their data. Optic ID analyzes a user’s iris and then compares it to the enrolled Optic ID data to instantly unlock the headset. Apple says that the user’s Optic ID data is fully encrypted and cannot be accessed by apps and is not stored on Apple servers.
Apple Vision Pro will be available early next year in the United States starting at $3,499 with the launch in more countries later. Just for context, Apple’s latest device is more than double the launch price of $1,500 of Meta’s Quest Pro mixed reality headset, which has since dropped to nearly $999.99.
“Built upon decades of Apple innovation, Vision Pro is years ahead and unlike anything created before — with a revolutionary new input system and thousands of groundbreaking innovations. It unlocks incredible experiences for our users and exciting new opportunities for our developers,” Apple chief Tim Cook said while calling the unveiling of Vision Pro “the beginning of a new era for computing.”