After years of internal struggles and changes in direction, Apple has finally released their entry into the VR/AR market: the Apple Vision Pro. While initial reactions to the headset have been positive, it is important to reserve final judgment until more people have had hands-on time with the product. The headset boasts dual 4K microOLEDS with about 32 pixels per degree (PPD), which is double the visual crispness of the Oculus/Meta Quest 2. This level of display quality is only possible with a modified Apple Silicon M2 chipset, no-latency foveated rendering from embedded eye tracking, and a dedicated R1 chip for tracking and spatial mapping.
The final design of the Apple Vision Pro closely resembles the latest 3D renders circulating in rumors, with a lens stack shaped like skiing goggles. It is designed for use in the home and office, not for on-the-go use, as indicated by its detached battery with a dangling wire as a connection. However, third-party battery packs and accessories will likely become available to extend battery life and enable attachment to the back of the headset.
The curious name of the Apple Vision Pro, as opposed to Apple Reality Pro, suggests that Apple is attempting to distance themselves from the existing industry. It remains to be seen whether this strategy will work in the long run. Additionally, Apple’s use of reverse, neural, or two-way passthrough technology, which displays the eyes of the wearer in real-time from an outward-facing display and captures the user’s face topology, skin tone, and other characteristics from an iPhone scan, beats Meta to the punch. Meta had been working on a similar technology for years and released it to the public in mid-2022 but deemed the price tag too high for implementation.
Apple’s focus on human interaction over technology is exemplified by the use of the Apple Vision Pro’s LiDAR, true depth optical cameras, and infrared sensors to capture real-time 3D moments for later viewing. While it may not be ideal for gaming due to its lack of dedicated controllers, the Apple Vision Pro’s natural gesture and gaze control make it excellent for productivity applications. For example, users can mirror their Macbook’s screen in real-time on the headset while eating apples in Apple’s walled garden.
The Apple Vision Pro’s price tag of $3,499, like that of Meta’s Quest Pro, signals a targeted audience of affluent Apple fans and enterprises. While small to medium-sized developers may not see the worth in investing design and coding hours towards its currently low adoption, Apple is likely to perfect and port the futuristic technologies to an affordable follow-up headset in the future. In the meantime, Apple’s pursuit of humanizing the inherent isolation in virtual reality marks a visionary start for the Apple Vision Pro.