Apple lifted the curtain Monday on a video presentation of its highly anticipated mixed reality headset at its Worldwide Developers Conference at Apple’s campus in Cupertino, California.
The $3,499 Apple Vision Pro headset won’t be available until next year, but promises to usher in a new era of “spatial computing.”
“This is an extremely important product in the history of computing,” declared Tim Bajarin, Creative Strategies, a technology consulting firm in San Jose, California.
“Apple gave us the Mac with a graphical user interface,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Then it gave us the iPhone, the pocket computing system. That gave us the iPad with tablet computing.”
“Each one broke new ground,” he continued. “Now it gives the world another completely new interface with gestures, eye tracking and speech recognition.”
“The technology is beyond anything we’ve seen,” he added. “In the world of virtual reality, there’s no headset that comes close to it. It’s a full computer in a headset.”
Best in class equipment
The Vision Pro, which looks like ski goggles, is packed with technology, including sensors that allow the user to control virtual screens with eyes, hands and voice, as well as a 3D camera.
Apple Vision Pro is designed for high-performance tasks and can run for two hours on a single charge. (Image credit: Apple)
“It looks like it will sit comfortably as a best-in-class device, certainly at the right price,” observed Eric Abbruzzese, director of research at ABI Research, a technology consulting firm headquartered in Oyster Bay, NY.
“Eye tracking, custom silicon, high pixel density displays, and a substantial sensor array are great value for VR headsets,” he told TechNewsWorld. “I don’t believe there has been a full feature like the Vision Pro, but the price highlights why.”
“It is also interesting that the device has the name Pro as a first-generation product. there’s usually at least one iteration of a “normal” device before the Pro brand arrives, but that’s on purpose to get that “normal” product in. Pro in both price and performance,” he added.
The long-awaited product lived up to expectations, noted Mark N. Venan, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, California.
“It’s a spatial computer that you wear on your head,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Vena added that Apple has demonstrated several compelling use cases for the device, from watching entertainment and sports to increasing productivity to extending the desktop through virtual screens.
The VisionOS spatial operating system allows Vision Pro users to experience digital content that blends into the user’s physical world. (Image credit: Apple)
Disney CEO Robert A. Iger, who showed up at Apple’s presentation, was excited about the Vision Pro.
“We are constantly looking for new ways to entertain, inform and inspire our fans, combining extraordinary creativity with breakthrough technology to create truly remarkable experiences,” he said. “And we believe Apple Vision Pro is a revolutionary platform that can make our vision a reality.”
“The first time I tried Apple Vision Pro, what struck me the most was how it would allow us to create deeply personal experiences to bring our fans closer to the characters they love and immerse them more deeply in our stories,” he continued. “This platform will allow us to bring Disney to our fans in ways that were previously impossible.”
The device will also increase the visibility of augmented reality technology.
“Augmented reality is a less familiar term in the consumer space,” Kristen Hanich, an analyst at Dallas-based market research and consulting firm Parks Associates, wrote in the Connected Consumer Newsletter.
“However, most consumers use popular apps like Pokémon Go, Snapchat and Instagram; smartphone apps that are used not because they are augmented reality, but because the core experiences resonate with consumers,” he continued.
“Apple’s anticipated announcement on this category today will help drive awareness and adoption given the strength of the brand, content ecosystem, developer relationships and Apple’s focus on premium experiences,” he noted.
Virtual reality is getting a lot of press because it promises to transport you to another time, another place, added Gartner analyst Tung Nguyen.
“With Vision Pro, because it transmits, which some other devices do, it keeps you rooted in the physical world while adding digital elements to it,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“You can use a headset and still be in the moment,” explained Ben Arnold, an analyst at Circana (formerly NPD), a global market research firm.
“To me, it’s different than what we’re seeing in the market right now,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Apple’s announcement reflects where mixed reality is today, said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, a New York City consumer technology consulting firm.
“The similarity that we’re seeing among mixed reality creators is the big levers of content and apps today, because there’s not a lot of mixed reality, augmented reality content,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“So if you’re Apple and you have this incredible library of apps,” he continued, “it makes a lot of sense to put that on a device and build some added value around it, whether it’s immersion or running multiple apps.” on the tiles in front of you.”
New 15 inches of air
In addition to introducing Vision Pro, Apple made several other hardware and software announcements.
The anticipated 15-inch Mac Air, based on M2 silicon, will be available next week for $1,299. The 13-inch M2 Air will retail for $1,099 for its base configuration, while the 13-inch M1 Air remains part of the lineup at $999.
Showcasing its bright starlight, space gray, silver and midnight hues, the 15-inch MacBook Air also includes a 3.5mm headphone jack with MagSafe charging and two Thunderbolt accessory ports. (Image credit: Apple)
Milestone Shift to All Apple Silicon
Apple also announced that it will build its Mac Studio computer with M2 Ultra and M2 Max silicon. Starting at $1,999, those models will also be available starting next week.
The Mac Pro has also been upgraded to M2 Ultra silicon. It will retail for $6,999 and will be available next week.
Apple also updated its iOS, iPadOS and watchOS software lines.
“Most of the other announcements seemed like nice-to-haves rather than meaningful products,” Abbruzzese observed.
“The fact that all Apple products are now on Apple silicon is a milestone that everyone knew was coming, but it took a fair amount of time,” he said.
“The Vision Pro, powered by the M2 as well as a custom XR chipset, isn’t amazing either, but still interesting,” he continued. “Qualcomm dominates the XR chip market, and now they have a strong contender for 2024 and beyond.”