During WWDC 2023, Apple introduced its highly anticipated XR headset, the Vision Pro. Boasting cutting-edge technology and a sleek design, the Vision Pro surpasses all existing VR and AR headsets in the market. However, the premium features and advanced hardware components contribute to a higher price point, making it less affordable for many consumers.
A new standard for XR headsets
Priced at $3,499, the Apple Reality Pro headset establishes an incredible benchmark for AR, VR, and the encompassing term XR. With its remarkable capabilities, users can effortlessly position virtual screens around their Mac, conveniently handle FaceTime calls without reaching for their pockets, and compose emails comfortably from the couch.
If tight Apple integration is all the Reality Pro provided, even early adopters might balk at the high cost. However, Apple did not disappoint, giving its XR headset truly revolutionary capabilities.
Unlike most VR headsets that rely on controllers, the Vision Pro by Apple offers complete functionality using just your hands. Although Apple has not disclosed all the specifics, it seems that tapping and flicking fingers, gripping objects with your hands, and tracing actions with your index finger will be sufficient for triggering interactions and navigating visionOS.
While hand-tracking is already supported to some extent in Meta’s Quest 2, Quest Pro, and the upcoming Quest 3, it is limited to a few games and apps. However, given Apple’s emphasis on hand interaction as the primary input method, every application available on the visionOS App Store is expected to support this feature. Regarding authentication, the Vision Pro employs a retina scan for swift and effortless identity verification.
For gaming, you need more than hands. Thankfully, Apple realizes this and game controllers can be used for quick and responsive control.
Your private theatre
According to Apple, their Vision Pro headset offers an immersive viewing experience equivalent to a 100-foot widescreen. Enhanced by Spatial Audio, this creates a personal theatre-like environment ideal for enjoying movies, TV shows, sports events, and more. Apple TV+ will also be accessible on the Vision Pro.
The image quality of Apple’s Vision Pro stands out among competitors, delivering 4K resolution for each eye, totalling an impressive 23 million pixels across the dual displays. This exceeds the pixel count of Meta’s top VR headset by more than double and even surpasses the remarkable 2880-by-2720 pixel-per-eye resolution of the Varjo Aero.
While Apple did not disclose specific details about display brightness or colour space, they highlighted brilliant colour, remarkable detail, and high dynamic range. During the presentation, Adobe Lightroom, a professional image editing software, was demonstrated on the Vision Pro, implying that photographers, videographers, and graphic designers could potentially replace traditional monitors with headsets while maintaining confidence in picture quality. However, the exact colour fidelity of the device remains unconfirmed at this time.
In contrast to the pass through feature found in Meta Quest Pro and other VR headsets, which often exhibit noticeable visual flaws, Apple’s mixed reality view of the user’s actual surroundings appears remarkably similar to what they would see without the headset. This seamless integration is achieved through the use of higher-quality cameras and enhanced processing power, enabling the quick and precise alignment of generated images.
The Vision Pro introduces a digital crown, reminiscent of the one on the Apple Watch, facilitating a smooth transition between the immersive view and the user’s real environment. When someone approaches the user, the display will reveal their presence, allowing for interaction and visibility between both parties.
During Apple’s demonstration of the Vision Pro, it was evident that the graphics processing capabilities are sufficiently advanced to render objects with a level of realism that makes them appear nearly as substantial as physical desks or tables. This represents the long-awaited realization of mixed reality. However, it is worth noting that the Vision Pro’s price exceeds that of a MacBook Pro, posing a significant consideration for potential buyers.
Eyes front and center
In what is certain to be the most controversial aspect of the Vision Pro headset, Apple placed a display on the outside of the headset so your eyes are still visible even when wearing the device. The view is a bit dark but looks convincing. We’ve previously seen Meta prototypes with a similar design called reverse pass through. Apple’s implementation is much better as if you’re wearing ski goggles.
Apple has incorporated state-of-the-art technology into the Vision Pro headset, resulting in a device that carries a substantial price tag. Earlier rumours indicated that Apple recognized the device’s limited appeal and targeted it towards early adopters, developers, and corporations who have the financial means to explore the extensive possibilities it offers. Equipped with an M2 and a new R1 processor, the Vision Pro promises exceptional performance, comparable to that of a MacBook Air in terms of computing power. In the realm of VR, achieving similar speeds would typically require connecting to a PC equipped with a powerful discrete GPU.
Apple didn’t delve into the battery life in its presentation but quietly admitted that it’s only about 2 hours. An external battery pack is used so a cable connection is required to use the headset. While most of us look on in envy, rest assured a lower-cost Apple XR headset is already in development to bring Apple’s plan for an augmented reality future forward.
Price and availability
Apple announced the Vision Pro today, starting at the eye-watering price of $3,499. The powerful, new XR headset will be available early next year.
Apple’s unveiling of the Vision Pro headset at WWDC 2023 signifies a major leap forward in the realm of XR technology. Packed with cutting-edge features and innovative advancements, the Vision Pro sets a new standard for AR and VR experiences. With its remarkable hand-tracking capabilities, stunning image quality, and seamless integration of mixed reality, the Vision Pro offers users an unparalleled level of immersion and interaction. While the device’s premium price tag may limit its accessibility to a broader audience, it is clear that Apple has targeted early adopters, developers, and corporations who recognize the immense potential and possibilities that this advanced headset opens up. The Vision Pro is poised to revolutionize the way we perceive and engage with virtual environments, cementing Apple’s position as a leader in the XR landscape. We’ll be closely watching new developments, so stay tuned for full specifications, additional app details, and much more