It was a classic “one more thing” at Apple’s WWDC event today. After unveiling new Macs and software updates, Apple finally announced its long-rumored augmented reality headset known as Vision Pro. In typical Apple fashion, the announcement failed to provide many technical details, but the company demoed plenty of games, videos, and app interactions. Apple claims it’s “the most advanced personal electronic device ever.” And it better be for the $3,500 asking price, which is vastly higher than even the most out-there rumors.
Apple places the Vision Pro alongside the Mac and iPhone. Whereas the Mac introduced personal computing and the iPhone added mobile computing, Apple says the Vision Pro will be the birth of “spatial computing.” While the Vision Pro can seal you off in a virtual environment, it’s being presented as a way to interact with virtual worlds while remaining present in the real one. The front of the headset is a smooth pane of glass covering an outward-facing screen. This display shows your eyes to those around you when you’re talking to them. If you’re busy in a virtual space, this screen shows swirling animations to let people know you’re occupied.
Vision Pro won’t come with controllers because you only need eyes, hands, and a voice. Like the Meta Quest Pro, this headset is crawling with cameras, some facing inward to track your eyes. All you have to do to select something is to look at it. Apple swears that your eye-tracking data is 100% private and remains on the system. To select, just tap your fingers together; to scroll, just flick a finger. Apple also showed reaching out and touching some UI elements, so you should be able to do anything you can do with Meta’s hand-tracking features and then some.
While you can use the Vision Pro without any accessories, it works with peripherals like a keyboard and mouse for productivity and a controller for games. You can even bring content from macOS into the Vision Pro interface just by opening your MacBook close to the headset. Many apps from Mac, iPhone, and iPad will work on Vision Pro, but there will also be software optimized specifically for the headset, including 100 Apple Arcade games at launch. The Apple M2 processor paired with a new R1 sensor chip should give this device all the power it needs to run games or high-end productivity apps.
Apple says the Vision Pro is also an advanced 3D camera—there’s even a dedicated button on the headset to capture images and videos. Unfortunately, you’ll only be able to enjoy that content on the Vision Pro, but it’s equipped to display your content in all its glory. Apple is using a new ultra-dense display that can fit 64 pixels in the space of a single iPhone pixel—they’re just 7.5 microns across. That means 4K content can render at its native resolution without the “screen door” effect of cheaper headsets. Apple even worked with Zeiss to develop corrective lenses that attach to the Vision Pro, so you don’t need to wear glasses.
Vision Pro can scan your face to create a virtual stand-in for video chats. It looks only a little uncanny. Credit: Apple
The company made the headset’s battery an external affair, connected to the device via a cable. The battery pack appeared to be concealed in everyone’s pocket in the demos. That will help make the headset more comfortable (batteries are heavy). Apple says it worked long and hard to make the strap fully adjustable and plans to offer additional strap styles in the future. Apple also claims it studied “thousands of heads” to ensure Vision Pro would fit everyone.
Apple didn’t announce a specific launch date, saying it will launch early next year, but that’s probably for the best. Anyone planning to pick up the Vision Pro will need some time to get the funds together. Apple is adamant that this is a new kind of super-advanced product, and the price reflects that. The Vision Pro will retail for $3,500, and that’s before any Zeiss lenses or fancy custom straps. That’s a lot to ask in a product category that has been stagnant even with Meta throwing billions of dollars at it.