On June 5 Apple officially announced its mixed reality headset, the Apple Vision Pro. Apple is mostly positioning this as an AR headset, but it is capable of doing full VR and can act as a VR headset for certain features should you wish it.
The Apple Vision Pro has been suspected, hinted at, and rumored for quite some time now. Although a name was never really known. After a long time of speculation, the headset is real and Apple has begun to show it to the public. There’s a lot that the Apple Vision Pro seems capable of doing. So we thought it best to put together a breakdown of everything you need to know about Apple’s first dive into the AR/VR space.
What is Apple Vision Pro?
Apple Vision Pro is a mixed reality headset. Although Apple is marketing it as an augmented reality headset. However, as mentioned above it does have the capability to swap between AR and VR. Which makes it mixed reality. Apple officially unveiled the headset at its WWDC23 conference on June 5.
How much will the headset cost?
Apple is setting the price on this fairly steep. Well over what the cost would be for any other headset that offers a similar set of functions. Officially the price is set at $3,499.
There are a few things to take into account here. One, Apple is likely not going to be selling a ton of these in its first wave of the release. The higher price tag could also help to deter people who aren’t almost completely certain they want and will use this thing. At $3,499, the majority of anyone buying the headset is most likely going to use it quite a bit. So even if there are bugs or it has a less than full-featured launch, buyers will still probably be ok with it to some degree.
What Apple probably doesn’t want is to sell hundreds of thousands or millions of these things right away. Especially for first-gen tech in a space like AR and VR where people are still not adopting the tech as quickly as they do smartphones, PCs, and game consoles.
Another thing to consider is that anyone looking for an AR or VR headset has many different options that are less expensive. Sony’s PS VR2 (with a PS5), the Quest 3, Quest 2, Valve Index, Quest Pro, and every Vive headset are all cheaper.
Is this headset for gaming?
Yes and no. You can use this headset for gaming and Apple even made a point to highlight that fact during the keynote segment about Vision Pro. There will be over 100 games from Apple Arcade available to play on the headset at launch. Such as NBA 2K23. You can even use game controllers like the DualSense to play games on this headset.
However, the headset is much less about gaming and more about linking you to your Apple ecosystem. Access to your apps, your entertainment, your experiences, and your games. Think of it like an extension of your iPhone and Mac products. Where you can experience all of the content that’s available on those devices in a whole new, immersive way.
For headsets that are much more focused on gaming, look to the PS VR2, Quest 2 and 3, and Valve Index.
How do you control the headset?
Apple CEO Tim Cook said you control it with the “most natural and intuitive tools” that you know. What he means is you control the headset with your hands, eyes, and voice. Let’s clear things up a little bit more though.
Technically you use your hands and eyes to control many AR/VR headsets these days. They either all come with controllers or they have controllers as well as eye tracking. The Apple Vision Pro has absolutely no controllers, and never will. Apple integrated quite a few eye-tracking cameras on the inside of the headset to do just what they were intended to do. Track your eyes. When you look at an app or piece of content, the cameras track that movement and highlight that content.
You then use your hands to select the content by tapping your fingers together. The finger tap, or pinch if you prefer, is how you more or less select everything. But there’s also still one more way to control the headset. Your voice.
You can dictate pretty much anything just by speaking to the headset and having Siri process your requests.
Is Apple Vision Pro a standalone headset?
Apple Vision Pro is a standalone headset. Which means you do not have to plug it into your phone, PC, or tablet.
All of that aside, the Vision Pro handles all of the computing inside its own containment. It’s running on an M2 chip that handles all of the graphics and computing, and it’s paired with Apple’s all-new R1 chip that handles real-time processing for the 12 camera sensors. It also has embedded speakers so you don’t need headphones or earbuds. In short it’s designed to handle everything without you needing any extra hardware.
What sort of apps will be available for the headset?
At the moment the only apps that would be available if the headset were available today, are a smaller collection of Apple’s own apps. That being said, the headset won’t be available until early next year. And part of the reason why is so developers have some time to get apps up and running for this platform.
Apple has already announced that Disney Plus will be available on the platform at launch. So expect other big brands to have their apps available at launch as well. Vision Pro runs on its own new operating system that Apple calls VisionOS. So it will take some time for developers to get content ready for it.
What’s the battery life like?
Unfortunately, the battery life isn’t all that great. Apple says it can last two hours with the included battery bank, which must be plugged into the headset to actually use it. This is because the headset is already going to be a heavy setup due to all the metal and glass material used to make it. So Apple made the battery external, and it plugs into the headset on the side. You can then slide the battery bank into your pocket or have it lying on your couch, chair, or desk next to you.
You can also plug the headset into a wall through a USB-C port on the battery bank if you want to use it for as long as you want.
What are the specs?
You might be wondering what the specs are of the headset, and that’s understandable given the price you would pay to get one. So here’s what you’re looking at. It uses a 4K micro-OLED display for each eye. It also has two main camera sensors, two downward-facing camera sensors, two side-facing camera sensors, two infrared illuminators, a LiDAR scanner, and a TrueDepth camera sensor all on the outside of the headset. These track your hands and what’s happening around the headset.
On the inside, there are also four infrared cameras and a bunch of LED illuminators for tracking your eyes. There’s a display on the outside for projecting your eyes to anybody who might be trying to talk to you. Lens adjustment is fully automatic, and there’s a total pixel count of 23 million pixels. It’s also got six microphones and uses OpticID for authentication.
Additionally, you can switch between AR and VR using the digital crown button on the side of the headset. As for audio, Apple doesn’t dive into specifics too much but it says the Vision Pro comes with audio pods, with one positioned on each side and each containing two audio drivers. These provide spatial audio for your content. You can also personalize the spatial audio if you have an iPhone with a TrueDepth Face ID sensor. On top of all that, the speakers use what Apple calls Audio Ray Tracing.
Apple says the headset will scan your space to “precisely match sound to your room.”
What are the Apple Vision Pro features?
There are quite a few features available that Apple displayed during its presentation for the headset. EyeSight is one such feature, which uses the inside tracking sensors. It’s meant to give other people in the room a visual cue about what you’re doing.
The headset supports FaceTime and other Apple content like Safari, iCloud, and more. And eventually content from other apps with its own fully-baked app store.
As mentioned earlier it’s capable of hand and eye tracking to support controlling the headset and navigating through its user interface. It fully supports voice dictation should you want to simply ask the headset to do something.
Plus, the headset, Apple says, is completely secure with the implementation of OpticID. Which is Apple’s version of a fingerprint scanner for your eyes to unlock the headset. OpticID is also used for authorization of Apple Pay purchases.
What is the headset made of?
The headset uses a single piece of three-dimensionally formed laminated glass, which is polished so it “acts as a lens for the embedded cameras.” This glass “flows” into the custom aluminum alloy frame. The modular light seal attaches to the frame magnetically, and the headband is made of a 3D knitted fabric that is meant to provide breathability and cushioning while allowing it to stretch for a comfortable fit.
There are also ocular inserts Apple made with Zeiss that can be attached on the inside. These also attach magnetically. Which makes for an easy way to pop them in and out when needed. This could be especially useful for people who are sharing the headset in a single household.
When will Apple Vision Pro be available?
Apple hasn’t set a specific date for launch yet. But on the official product landing page for it, Apple says it will be available in early 2024. So it will still be a while before you can actually buy one. Assuming you’re even interested in buying one in the first place. Of course, if you’re here reading about the headset then you are least intrigued by Apple Vision Pro and may be considering one.
Update: January 24, 2024
Apple has a confirmed launch date for the spatial computing headset, and it’ll officially launch on February 2. A pre-sale for the Vision Pro began on January 19. However, it appears that a large portion of available stock may have been picked up by scalpers looking to resell the product for a higher markup. You may still be able to place a pre-order, but you also might be able to grab one on launch day. As Apple confirms that all Apple stores will have them. So there’s a chance that there may be some stock in-store that isn’t allocated to those who placed pre-orders looking for a pickup.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that the headset is expected to sell out quickly after launch. If you’re planning on buying one, be sure to get to your local Apple store early. Being prepared for these kinds of exciting product launches is the best chance you’ll have at securing the product.
How can I buy an Apple Vision Pro?
You can pre-order (or purchase once it launches) the Apple Vision Pro via the Apple website or in stores at your local Apple Store location. Before you can pay for the headset you’ll need to get measured for the light seal and headbands. If you’re doing this online through the Apple website, then you’ll be prompted to get started by using an iPhone or iPad with FaceID to scan your face for this purpose. Apple will also ask to get a sense of your vision. The main reason for this is to see if you need optical inserts.
Apple has two options for inserts available — the Zeiss Optical Inserts – Readers which are $99, and the Zeiss Optical Inserts – Prescription which are $149. You won’t necessarily need either of these. But it’s a step in the process of purchasing online so you likely have to go through it before you can proceed with payment. After you complete these steps, you’ll be prompted to select how much storage you want, what payment method you’re going to use, and whether or not you want Apple Care+.
You will also have the opportunity to select if you want the headset to be shipped out for free, or set aside for you at an Apple Store for pickup.
What does the headset come with?
Regardless of the storage capacity you select, you’ll get some accessories to go along with the headset. This includes a polishing cloth, a Solo Knit Band, a Dual Loop Band, a Light Seal, and two Light Seal cushions. The headset will also come with a USB-C charging cable, a USB-C power adapter, a battery, and a cover for the Vision Pro. The Light Seal is just a mask for the headset in case you were wondering.
Can I wear glasses with the Apple Vision Pro?
Apple says the Vision Pro was designed to be worn without glasses. This means you cannot wear them when you want to put on the headset. As you may have guessed, this is why Apple is selling the Zeiss Optical Inserts for reading or prescription. It recommends that users who wear glasses and plan to purchase the headset figure out which inserts they may need and add those to the order.