After years of development, this Monday (05/06/2023) during the WWDC 2023 Apple finally unveiled its highly anticipated AR headset: the Vision Pro. This announcement brings back memories of the iconic “one more thing” moments from Apple’s past.
Unlike the rumored Apple Car, one thing is for sure about the Vision Pro: it’s real and it’s here — but we still can’t predict if it’s going to be a success. During the introduction of the new headset, Tim Cook emphasized the freedom it provides by eliminating the limitations of traditional displays.
Apple is placing a strong emphasis on augmented reality rather than virtual reality, introducing a concept they call spatial computing; this innovative approach allows users to interact with the computing UI in a new and immersive way, similar to using a mouse or trackpad.
An immersive experience (even for those who wear glasses)
In terms of design, the Vision Pro resembles ski goggles and is primarily intended for indoor use — the headset features an aluminum frame, curved glass, and convenient buttons for image capture and adjustments. To ensure a comfortable fit and block out external light, it comes with a flexible strap and a visor that extends from the display to the wearer’s head. Additionally, built-in “audio pods” deliver spatial audio, enhancing the immersive experience.
Under the hood, the Vision Pro is powered by the M2 chip, along with a new R1 chip dedicated to video streaming. The micro-OLED displays offer impressive pixel density, and the three-element lens improves imaging from all angles. Collaborating with Zeiss, Apple has also introduced custom prescription glass inserts for users who wear glasses.
Work & entertainment
Interestingly, Apple seems less interested in virtual reality and more focused on work-related applications. Rather than emphasizing gaming, the company highlights features like email and projecting a version of the Mac desktop in front of the user.
The opaque display creates a darkened room effect, and 2D photos taken from iPhones are strongly promoted. The headset also includes a 3D camera for capturing spatial photos and videos, as well as a movie theater mode for a larger screen illusion.
Disney is the first content partner for the Vision Pro, with Disney+ being available at launch. This partnership indicates promising future experiences.
The Vision Pro will work with Microsoft Office apps and popular teleconferencing services like WebEX and Zoom; existing iOS and iPadOS apps will be compatible with VisionOS, and Apple is launching a dedicated App Store for the headset. Collaboration with Unity will also ensure enhanced game development tools for a more immersive gaming experience.
VisionOS: the beginning of the spatial computing era
Apple has developed a new operating system called VisionOS, specifically designed for spatial computing. Educational apps, astronomical tools, health apps, and music creation apps are among the available features.
One notable feature is EyeSight, which uses a front-facing display to show your eyes to others in the room — this compensates for the opaque visor, creating an authentic representation of the wearer. The initial facial scan also doubles as an avatar to represent the user to others wearing the headset.
To address security concerns, Apple introduces OpticId (an upgraded version of FaceID that enhances features like Apple Pay). It’s worth noting that camera data is processed onboard, and Apple does not log where users look.
Available next year: it won’t be cheap
While the product is still in its early stages, Apple announced it to attract developers. The presentation showcased renders rather than real experiences, as presenting a 3D experience in a 2D video poses its own challenges. The Vision Pro is expected to be available early next year at a price of $3,499.
Well, better start saving up now, as this exciting AR headset is sure to captivate tech enthusiasts and offer new possibilities in spatial computing. What’s your take on the new Apple product? Are you getting one? Make sure to let us know in the comments!