Apple has finally revealed its long-awaited mixed reality headset, called Vision Pro, at its WWDC 2023 event. The device combines augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to create immersive experiences that blend digital content with the real world.
The Vision Pro is Apple’s first major hardware innovation since the Apple Watch in 2015. It is also one of the most expensive headsets on the market, costing $3,499 (£2,849) in the US. It will be available in early 2024.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said that Vision Pro “seamlessly blends the real world and the virtual world”. He added that users can navigate using their eyes, hands, and voice.
The headset has a sleek design that resembles ski goggles. It has a curved glass front that acts as a display and shows the user’s eyes to others. It also has an aluminum alloy frame that fits around the face and contains cameras, sensors, speakers, and a fan.
The Vision Pro has two custom micro-OLED displays that deliver more pixels than a 4K TV to each eye. It also has Spatial Audio that mixes virtual sounds with real-world sounds.
The device runs on visionOS, a new operating system that supports apps, entertainment, photos, and videos. Users can access their favorite apps in their space and arrange them as they like. They can also watch movies, shows, and games on a large screen with immersive sound.
The Vision Pro is also Apple’s first 3D camera. Users can take spatial photos and videos that capture depth and sound. They can then relive their memories in 3D with Spatial Audio.
The headset comes with an external battery pack that supports up to two hours of use. It can also be plugged in for all-day use.
The Vision Pro does not have any controllers. Instead, users can control it using their eyes, hands, and voice. They can tap their fingers together to select items, flick them to scroll, or use voice commands.
The Vision Pro is Apple’s entry into the mixed reality market, which is currently dominated by Meta (formerly Facebook) and Lenovo. Meta recently announced its Quest 3 VR headset, which costs $499. Meta also has a mixed reality headset called HoloLens 2.
Apple did not mention much about generative artificial intelligence (AI), which is a hot topic in Silicon Valley. Generative AI is a type of AI that can create new content such as images, text, or music.
Apple’s stock price dropped slightly during the WWDC 2023 event, which was held at Apple Park in Cupertino, California.
The BBC’s technology editor Zoe Kleinman was one of the first people to try out the Vision Pro at the event. She said that Apple has been unable to come up with a world-changing product since Tim Cook took over in 2011.
“Have they done it here?” she asked.
She said that Vision Pro is different from other headsets because it is “very much about being part of your daily life”. She said that it allows users to do things like watch videos of their family or immerse themselves in their photography.
However, she also said that Vision Pro is still a VR headset that costs a lot of money. She said that Apple will need to have a lot of content for it when it launches next year.
Hartley Charlton, senior editor of MacRumors, said that Vision Pro will not appeal to mainstream consumers at first because of its high price and limitations as a first-generation device. He said that it also has a separate wired battery pack.
However, he also said that Apple has a history of “overcoming scepticism” and convincing people to buy new gadgets.
Thomas Husson, of Forrester Research, told BBC News that it may take time for Vision Pro to take off. He said that the mixed reality space has been “a bit overhyped” in recent years.
“That’s the reason why I think it will take a bit more time,” he said.
He also said that people may not have expected to pay almost $2,000 for a mobile phone 10 to 15 years ago, but now they do.
Besides Vision Pro, Apple also announced iOS 17, the latest version of its iPhone operating system. It has new features such as contact posters, live voicemail, and Check-In.
iOS 17 will be available this autumn.