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Apple unveils its Vision Pro headset

By | Published on Tuesday 6 June 2023

Apple Vision Pro

Apple yesterday unveiled its long-anticipated ‘mixed reality’ headset, the Vision Pro, which is the tech giant’s big play in the virtual and augmented reality space. Or, if you prefer the official blurb, “a revolutionary spatial computer that seamlessly blends digital content with the physical world, while allowing users to stay present and connected to others”.

The unveiling of the headset at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference was closely watched by those actively involved or particularly interested in the VR and AR space, of course, given the potential for Apple to impact more widely on the evolution of that technology, in the same way it did with personal computers, smartphones and tablets.

And there was some positive feedback around the launch. Tim Bajarin of tech consultancy Creative Strategies, who has tested the headset, told the Financial Times: “When you actually test it and see it in action, it’s staggering. If you’re watching a sports game, you’re actually on the field. You’re in front of the action. And if the movie is 3D, you’re almost in the 3D world”.

Meanwhile, The Verge noted that “the display itself is absolutely bonkers”, with reviewer Nilay Patel adding that he’d “gasped” when that display had changed to show him a person who was talking to him out in the real world.

Though, don’t get too excited just yet. When the headset goes on sale next year it will be priced at $3500. And while Apple has never sought to compete on price when innovating in the hardware space, the FT confirmed that this price point is “even more than most analysts had expected and nearly twelve times the price of Meta’s Quest 2, the biggest-selling VR headset”.

That price point will obviously limit the reach of the new product in the short term. Though Apple boss Tim Cook was keen to stress that the initial Vision Pro is just the start. “Today marks the beginning of a new era for computing”, he declared.

“Just as the Mac introduced us to personal computing and iPhone introduced us to mobile computing, Apple Vision Pro introduces us to spatial computing”, he continued. “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”.

As for how the Vision Pro will actually be used, gaming is an obvious priority for anyone innovating in this space. Though Apple is expected to also push the potential of the technology in the workplace with plenty of business uses. And at yesterday’s launch it also seemed to be keen to stress how the headset will impact on the wider world of home entertainment as well.

“With two ultra-high-resolution displays, Apple Vision Pro can transform any space into a personal movie theatre with a screen that feels 100 feet wide and an advanced spatial audio system”, it declared.

“Users can watch movies and TV shows, or enjoy stunning three-dimensional movies. Apple Immersive Video offers 180 degree high-resolution recordings with spatial audio, and users can access an exciting lineup of immersive videos that transport them to entirely new places”.

So that all sounds fun, doesn’t it? Though, for most people, probably not three and half grand’s worth of fun. But remember, this is just the beginning.

Elsewhere during yesterday’s WWDC announcements, some changes to Apple Music were promised as part of the roll out of the tech giant’s next mobile operating system iOS 17.

As part of that: “Apple Music introduces Collaborative Playlists that make listening to music with friends easier than ever before, and SharePlay in the car allows all passengers to easily contribute to what’s playing. Listeners can control the music from their own devices, even if they don’t have an Apple Music subscription”. Good times.