Vision Pro VR Headset

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference is usually where the company shows off all the new software features coming to iPhones, iPads, Macs, and more.

But this year Apple launched an entirely new type of device at its usually software-focused event: an AR/VR headset. Here’s everything Apple announced at WWDC, from the Apple Vision Pro to iOS 17.

 

The biggest One More Thing: Apple Vision Pro

A person wearing Apple's new virtual and augmented reality headset, the Vision Pro.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s long-rumored virtual reality and augmented reality headset is officially here. The Apple Vision Pro, which goes on sale early next year for $3,500, is what CEO Tim Cook calls the first Apple product you look through, rather than look at. It’s shaping up to be the slimmest mixed-reality headset released so far, and during the presentation, Apple showed off the ability to use the device like a laptop, a TV screen, and a gaming platform.

Design and display

A person wearing Apple's new virtual and augmented reality headset, the Vision Pro.
Photo: Apple

The Vision Pro is a headset designed by Apple, so it has a distinctly Apple aesthetic. The display, which consists of a glass front and an aluminum frame, connects to a soft headband that the wearer can adjust for better fit or swap out. The headset has a thin braided cable that attaches to an external aluminum battery pack the size of a deck of cards, which the wearer can slip into a pocket. Apple claims that it studied thousands of heads as part of its research in designing the headset. Folks who wear glasses will be able to use the headset, too—Apple partnered with Zeiss to develop custom optical inserts to magnetically fit inside the display. Those inserts will be sold separately, though, and it’s unclear how much they’ll cost.

The Apple Vision Pro has a feature called EyeSight, which lets you control the transparency of its display using a digital crown, much like on the Apple Watch. The opacity ranges from an augmented reality view, where you can fully see your room through cameras (and people can see your eyes on the external display), to an opaque virtual reality mode that you can set for a more immersive experience.

Vision Pro apps (and how to use them)

A virtual and augmented reality view with the Apple Vision Pro.
Photo: Apple

Apple wants the Vision Pro to span work and entertainment. The headset wirelessly and automatically connects to a Mac, and you can take over your computer’s desktop (as well as all of its processing power) when wearing the headset. At WWDC, Apple showed off the headset as a tool for running more interactive meetings and working with colleagues, but the company also demonstrated how the headset could create a portable cinema and gaming experience.

You control the Vision Pro through hand gestures, eye movements, and your voice. Apple calls the technology “spatial computing,” and during the presentation, Cook likened it to a new generation of computing, much as the smartphone was.

The headset tracks a tremendous amount of data using lidar, a TrueDepth camera, and many other cameras to track hand movement. The Vision Pro has an M2 chip inside, as the latest Macs do, but it’s also powered by a new chip called the R1, which processes the data from 12 cameras, five sensors, and six microphones in real time. The Vision Pro also has a 3D camera, which can record 3D-format video that you can rewatch on the headset.

When you set up the Vision Pro, it uses its cameras and sensors to create your “persona,” which will appear in FaceTime calls and other situations when you’re virtually “with” another person. Your persona is essentially a 3D capture of your likeness. Whether that avatar has legs is currently unclear.

The operating system on the device, visionOS, has a number of processes to specifically handle all the cameras and the timing needs to coordinate all the hardware packed into the headset. The new headset supports apps, which you install from a new visionOS app store. When you slip the headset on, apps appear levitating in front of you, and you can select them using your eye movements, hand gestures, or voice. You’ll also be able to interact with existing Apple apps like Messages and Safari in different ways, such as pulling a 3D object out of Messages to view it on its own. Because Apple gave early access to the Vision Pro to high-profile developers, Microsoft apps such as Excel and Word, for example, are already compatible.

In a huge move, Apple has partnered with Disney to make Disney+ available on the Vision Pro at launch. Disney CEO Bob Iger appeared at WWDC to show the ways in which Disney characters like Mickey Mouse could appear in augmented reality on the headset.

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Mark Rober

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