Today at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2023 (WWDC 2023), the Cupertino tech giant unveiled its long-awaited XR headset – Vision Pro. The mixed-reality headset has been a subject of rumors for years with updates on patents and other leaks. This headset, similar to Meta’s Quest Pro and the newly unveiled Quest 3 headset, is capable of both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences, thanks to its color passthrough cameras. For now Apple is focusing on AR tasks with this new device, on-brand with Tim Cook’s beliefs of AR being more practical than VR.
The primary focus of the Apple Vision Pro headset is entertainment, video chatting, and productivity apps in the form of floating screens and app windows in augmented reality. The input system of the headset is based on optical hand tracking, eye tracking, and voice input, eliminating the need for traditional controllers.
One notable feature of the Vision Pro headset is the presence of an exterior display that shows a user’s eyes. A system called EyeSight can either obscure the digital representation of a user’s eyes from others in the room or show them to indicate the user’s readiness to engage in face-to-face communication.
The Apple Vision Pro headset comes with a hefty price tag, starting at $3,500. This pricing strategy reflects Apple’s positioning of the device as a high-end product in the VR market.
During the WWDC keynote presentation, Disney CEO Bob Iger made a special appearance on stage, expressing his excitement about the Apple Vision Pro. He referred to the headset as a “revolutionary platform” that would enable Disney to bring immersive experiences to its fans in ways that were previously impossible. As a testament to this collaboration, Disney+ will be available on the Vision Pro from the day it launches.
With the unveiling of the Vision Pro, Apple is directly competing with XR industry leaders like Meta (formerly Facebook) and its Meta Quest devices. The Vision Pro is Apple’s first product in this sector and marks the company’s first entry into an entirely new product category in almost a decade since the launch of the Apple Watch in 2015.
Although the VR market has experienced some challenges in terms of mass adoption and limited vendor options, Apple’s entry with the Vision Pro headset could potentially change the landscape (though the price tag could definitely hurt it). The company’s track record of delivering groundbreaking technology, combined with its strong brand presence, positions it well to make a significant impact in the VR market.
Apple has already provided some developers with access to the Vision Pro headset to create apps, including popular applications like Microsoft’s Word and Excel, the Sky Guide planetarium app, and a DJ app. At launch, the Vision Pro will support hundreds of thousands of existing iPhone and iPad apps. Additionally, Apple has ensured compatibility with the Unity game engine, allowing developers to bring their 3D apps created using Unity to the platform.
In addition to the Vision Pro announcement, Apple revealed updates to its operating systems and introduced new hardware, including the next generation of MacBook laptops and a new lineup of Macs.
Only time will tell if the Vision Pro headset can truly propel virtual reality into the mainstream.