Apple introduced the Vision Pro in summer 2023. The company wants to shake up the world of technology with the AR headset. You can read what is already known about the device here.
The Vision Pro was the big “one more thing” at the Worldwide Developers Conference 2023 (WWDC). Apple wants to usher in a new era with the glasses: that of the spatial computer. The aim is to complement the real world with the virtual world and mix the two. In addition to the headset, the manufacturer presented, among other things, iOS 17, iPadOS 17, macOS Sonoma as well as WatchOS 10 and a fresh 15-inch MacBook Air. You can find all the new products in our overview.
Innovative operating concept
For the Vision Pro, the company from Cupertino, California, has come up with some fresh functions that were missing from previous virtual reality glasses. The manufacturer does not use controllers. Eye and hand movements and your voice alone are sufficient for operation. With the new
Quest 3, Meta continues to rely on the classic controls. The new visionOS operating system ensures innovative handling. This should also enable the different worlds to be seamlessly connected. The beta phase of Vision OS launched was in July 2023. The focus of the device is less on virtual reality and more on augmented reality.
The Vision Pro can integrate digital objects into the real environment. For example, you can play virtual board games with the headset on your real dining table. So that you don’t get lost in the augmented reality, Apple has installed a crown on the housing that you can use to regulate the level of augmented reality.
Working in virtual reality
Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg sees the future of work in the augmented and virtual reality of his metaverse. The Vision Pro also seems to revolve around the digital desk. Similar to cinema mode, you select a suitable working environment, be it on a mountain top or on a beach – and then display apps such as an email program or browser. Thanks to the three-dimensional user interface, you can move virtual objects in space and adjust their size. Multiple open applications each have their own large screen.
You can also wirelessly connect your MacBook to the Vision Pro and mirror the laptop contents onto the glasses. According to Apple, Optic ID ensures that no unauthorized person accesses your data. Optic ID works similarly to Face ID, but does not capture your face, but scans your eyes. By the way: Work colleagues remain visible to you because the Vision Pro is transparent and does not shield you from the environment.
Images, videos and films in virtual space
Apple has installed its first self-developed camera in the Vision Pro, which records three-dimensional images and videos. At the touch of a button, you can capture a scene right in front of your eyes. You can then watch the recording in cinema mode, setting the virtual screen size and a suitable background. Conventional and third-party 3D films can also be streamed and viewed.
Also with the iPhone 15 Pro and the iPhone 15 Pro Max3D videos record videos for the Vision Pro. On the other hand, if you load normal images from your iPhone onto the glasses, you will view them in life size. Panoramic photos even build up around you. Apple promises that this will give the feeling of standing in the exact location where the image was taken. We’ll see if it’s true.
Entertainment from another world
Gaming only played a minor role in the presentation of the Vision Pro. No exclusive games were shown or announced. After all, all games from the in-house gaming service Apple Arcade should be compatible with the Vision Pro. TV streaming services such as Apple TV+ and Disney+ can also be installed on the AR/VR headset. Disney is one of the first cooperation partners for streaming content.
Apple has developed a 3D audio system for sound output: two individual drivers in each of the audio pods are intended to create a spatial listening experience. In addition, the new AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C socket are optimized for the Vision Pro and are intended to provide the best sound.
The design of Apple Vision Pro
There are several cameras and sensors attached to the outer side of the glasses to record the surroundings. There is also a recording button and the “Digital Crown”. The back of the glasses is made of a soft material that is intended to ensure a comfortable fit. Apple integrated a technology called “Light Seal” that is intended to ensure the perfect fit for every user. The back strap of the glasses is replaceable. People who wear glasses should also be able to use the device: the manufacturer installs prescription lenses.
Battery and processor
In order to guarantee smooth operation, Apple is taking a big step and integrating two chips. The M2 is intended to provide fast computing performance and smooth operation. At the same time, the fresh R1 processor clocks and processes the information from the twelve cameras, five sensors and six microphones. The battery is less impressive. According to the manufacturer, it only lasts two hours. However, other VR headsets fail just as quickly. Practical: The battery pack is not attached to the glasses themselves, but can simply be put in your pocket. This will make the device lighter and will probably sit comfortably on your head.
Virtual avatars and FaceTime
The Apple Vision Pro expands FaceTime by incorporating the space around the user. Each person involved in the communication represents the device in a life-sized tile. Using 3D audio, the sound is reproduced according to the position and direction of speech of the conversation partners. When you wear the Vision Pro during a FaceTime call, you are represented as a virtual “persona.” You will probably create these in your own settings menu.
According to Apple, this digital image is created in real time using advanced machine learning techniques and shows facial and hand movements. Conference participants can watch films together, browse photo galleries and work on a project or presentation.
Apple Vision Pro: Price and availability
The Vision Pro looks promising, especially compared to competing products. But at 3,499 US dollars (around 3,325 euros, as of October 2, 2023) it has a proud price. That might scare off many interested people. It remains to be seen how successful Apple’s foray into virtual reality will be. The glasses are scheduled to come onto the market in spring 2024 – initially only in the USA.
There are also rumors circulating online about a cheap entry-level model that will be released later. However, according to industry insider Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is not releasing a cheaper version. He also assumes that a successor to the Vision Pro will not appear before 2027.