Apple reveals Vision Pro, its first mixed reality headset

Apple’s new Vision Pro headphones.

  • Apple unveiled its first mixed reality headset, the Apple Vision Pro on Monday.
  • Tim Cook took the stage at Apple’s WWDC conference to make the big announcement, and Disney CEO Bob Iger also appeared.
  • It’ll cost a whopping $3,499 and start shipping “early next year.”

After years of rumors and reports, Apple’s new big product is finally here.

Tim Cook revealed Apple’s first mixed reality headset, the Vision Pro, during the company’s annual keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday.

It represents the first major release of Apple’s product since the Apple Watch was announced in 2014, and it has reportedly taken years, with a few setbacks and compromises in product design along the way.

But Apple’s Vision Pro looks sleeker than the competition and has features no one else on the market currently offers, it’s the definition of a very high-end product, and it has a price to match: an eye-watering $3,499.

Say hello to “EyeSight” designed to make it less insulating

The most immediately differentiating feature of Apple’s Vision Pro is a screen on the front of the device called “EyeSight,” which displays the eyes and face of the person wearing the device—something no other headset on the market offers, including the range Meta Quest.

The Apple Vision Pro

When the headset detects that someone else is nearby, it will populate the external display with your face.

When you use an app, it will change to indicate your attention is elsewhere.

Apple’s Vision Pro lets others in the room know when you’re engaged within an application.

Goodbye, controllers

The headset is controlled by a combination of hand and finger gestures, eye tracking and voice.

You can use your fingers to select and expand content, and eye tracking can see where you’re looking and highlight selections, which you can confirm with your voice or fingers.

When you wear the device, you can also use a “Digital Crown” dial to switch between the virtual environment and the real world.

The “Reality Dial” on Apple’s Vision Pro headphones

Headset input can also be physical Apple’s new headset works with the company’s Magic Trackpad, keyboard and MacBook.

4K content and sharp, non-blurry text may be a game changer

Apple is positioning the device as a blend of entertainment, productivity, and communication device, and integration with existing Apple control inputs is key to this, as are the device’s high-end internal 4K displays.

Apple says it can render content “true 4K,” allowing for grainy-free TV and movies and “crisp” text when viewing articles or working inside the device.

Apple’s Vision Pro can render 4K content, which should make text look nice and sharp.

On the entertainment front, movies and TV shows can be viewed in 3D.

Notably, Apple introduced Disney CEO Bob Iger, who announced a partnership between Disney and Apple that will bring Disney+ to the headset from the very beginning.

Iger showcased Disney experiences that offer greater immersion when viewing content such as watching “The Mandalorian” in a space-themed setting or an underwater tour experience.

Sports have also been highlighted, from being able to watch multiple games simultaneously on multiple displays in your living room, to viewing miniature replays of games on your table.

Naturally, Apple’s TV+ service will be available on the device, which may include Vision Pro-specific content such as “Encounter Dinosaurs,” which brings 3D dinosaurs into your living room.

On the gaming front, Apple is creating a separate App Store for Vision Pro and is also partnering with game engine Unity. You will also be able to play Apple Arcade games on the device.

Apple enters a difficult market that no one has broken through yet

Apple faces an uphill battle entering a headphone market where several tech companies and startups have historically struggled.

However, the company has a strong track record of entering new product categories at the right time and succeeding with world-class design, engaging marketing, and compelling features that drive adoption.

Apple has internally predicted that the product will eventually become as significant as the iPad or Apple Watch, Bloomberg reported. However, it may take some time for the expensive product to develop a market. Meta, which sells a variety of virtual reality headsets, reported billions of dollars in operating losses from its Reality Labs division. Earlier this year, the company took up to $500 off the price of its headphones, following mixed reviews and “disappointing sales,” reported The Verge.

Additionally, some Apple employees who worked on the headset have expressed concerns about the device, including its price and whether it fits the company’s branding, The New York Times reported earlier this year.

Eventually, Apple is ready to go head-to-head with Meta, the current market leader for standalone headphones.

Mark Zuckerberg announced Meta’s latest headset, the Quest 3, just four days before Apple’s release. The device is part of Zuckerberg’s plans to pivot his social media company to focus on the metaverse. Meta’s CEO said it will go on sale this fall and with a starting price of $499. The Facebook co-founder has said in the past that Meta is in “deep philosophical competition” with Apple when it comes to building the metaverse.

This is a developing story… Check for updates.

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