On a clear summer day in Apple Park in Cupertino, Apple dropped a see-through bombshell: One More Thing, as Steve Jobs was famous for saying, although this time it was Tim Cook who delivered the phrase. That VR headset we've been hearing about for years? It's real ... and Apple Vision Pro is spectacular.
WWDC 2023 brought a huge focus on Apple's VR headset. Previously thought to be named the Reality Pro, Apple Vision Pro had long been rumored to appear at the WWDC 2023 keynote, and we were not disappointed.
Here's everything you need to know about the Apple VR headset, along with its new operating system: visionOS.
Apple VR headset: At a glance
What is it?: A wearable "Spatial Computer" capable of augmented reality, featuring two 4K displays
How much does it cost?: $3,499
When is it coming out?: Early 2024
Apple says the new product creates a new form of computing, called "spatial computing," as opposed to mobile computing.
Where Apple sets itself apart from other devices is through a deeper use of augmented reality. Like other devices, Apple Vision Pro also uses computer-generated images as viewed through a lens, but these are super-imposed over the real world to create dynamic experiences that combine virtual reality and the real world, whether through a smartphone display or, as in this case, through a head-mounted screen in front of your eyes. A good example of this is the popular Pokemon Go mobile game.
Apple Vision Pro can also be used in "environments" for watching movies in a forest, for example, using the Digital Crown to adjust the level of immersion. Vision Pro relies solely on your eyes, hands, and voice to control it. Tap your fingers together to select something and flip with your eyes. You can look at a search field and just start dictating, Apple says.
A new R1 chip pairs with the M2 chip within the headset. A curved OLED lens with a lenticular design has a 3D design that looks transparent, Apple says. There's no video conferencing camera looking at you: The system uses an "encoder/decoder neural network," trained on thousands of people, to create a virtual persona of you with volume and depth, the company says.
Apple Vision Pro headset: Design
Apple Vision Pro is a singular piece of 3D laminated glass, polished to create an optical surface acting as a lens. It features an array of front-facing cameras that can blend the digital world and physical world. It has a custom aluminum alloy frame and a Light Seal made of textile that comes in a range of shapes and sizes.
It also has a 3D knitted headband made as a single piece for cushioning, breathability, and stretch. This also comes in multiple sizes.
Apple Vision Pro: Processor
Apple Vision Pro is powered by Apple's M2 silicon chip, found in its best MacBooks. That helps run all of the stunning visuals, but there's also a brand new R1 chip that processes all of the inputs that keep the headset running. That includes data from 12 cameras, five sensors, and six microphones to ensure that the content always feels like it's right in front of your eyes in real time.
Apple Vision Pro: Display
The Vision Pro display is a micro-OLED ultra-high-resolution display with up to 23 million pixels across two displays. That's more than a 4K TV for each eye, and combines with catadioptric lenses for sharpness and clarity.
Prescription glasses wearers will benefit from ZEISS Optical Inserts, but those cost extra.
Apple Vision Pro: Sound
Vision Pro features advanced Spatial Audio powered by two AudioPods, each has a dual-driver setup that can generate Spatial Audio based on your own head and ear geometry.
Apple Vision Pro: Controls
Unlike something like the Meta Quest, Apple Vision Pro doesn't feature any kind of hand controls for input. Instead, you control it exclusively using gestures from your hands, your eyes, and your voice. You can browse apps by simply looking at them, tapping your fingers to select them, scrolling with a flick of the wrist, and using your voice to dictate text. You can also use Siri to control the headset, of course.
Apple Vision Pro: Camera
Vision Pro features Apple's first-ever 3D camera, letting you capture immersive memories in 3D with spatial audio so that you can view them again at a later date. You can also see your entire iCloud Photo library in Vision Pro and see Panorama shots expanded as if you were standing right there.
Apple Vision Pro: What can it do?
Apple Vision Pro has a plethora of use cases, giving you infinite screen real estate. For work, you can use it to access apps and multitask, making inputs with a virtual mouse and keyboard. You can collaborate on documents in apps like Freeform, and it supports Microsoft apps like Teams and Excel. You can have apps side-by-side at any scale too. Vision Pro will also connect wirelessly to a Mac, acting as a portable, private, 4K display.
Entertainment and gaming
Vision Pro looks like a stunning way to enjoy movies, TV shows, and games. It offer movie theater displays of up to 100 feet wide and advanced Spatial audio. You can also watch content in environments to further increase the sense of scale and immersion.
Spatial computing means you can also play games, with support for popular controllers and over 100 Apple Arcade games on a screen as large as you want.
Apple has also teamed up with Disney, bringing Disney Plus to Vision Pro at launch. It will feature immersive settings for shows like The Mandalorian, which you'll be able to watch on Tattooine.
One hallmark of the new product: A feature called EyeSight shows your eyes on the exterior of the product. The display lights up when someone walks into your field of vision, revealing "your eyes" to whoever is nearby, and likewise they will appear within your display.
For better or worse, Siri is built in, and apparently not much advanced. Chatbots have exploded in technical ability over the last few months, thanks to major leaps forward from Microsoft, Google, and others. Apple's early entry in the field, Siri, has become a laggard in this advnaced field. It's unclear whether this will be a hindrance to the new product.
You can also receive 3D objects in messages and pull them out, to look at them in front of you as though they were real objects.
Finally, Vision Pro is Apple's first 3D camera, the company also said. "Imagine being able to relive a special moment form your daughter's birthday," the company said. Just press a button to capture the special photographs.
Vision Pro can scan your face using the TrueDepth camera to create a digital Persona that can be shown in virtual reality. Users wearing a Vision Pro headset can see a digital reconstruction of you reflecting your face and hand movements in real time. Together you can do things like watch movies, browse photos, or collaborate on a presentation.
Apple Vision Pro will be able to run thousands of iPhone and iPad apps at launch, but it will also feature its own dedicated App Store featuring 3D apps specifically designed for the Vision Pro headset.
Vision Pro features a high-speed camera and a ring of LEDs that project light onto your eyes, controlling the inputs. It also has Optic ID, a new biometric security system that can scan your iris using LED to unlock Apple Vision Pro and make payments using Apple Pay, as well as autofilling passwords on apps like Safari.
Apple Vision Pro headset: Release date
Apple's Vision Pro headset will be released "early" in 2024, and will only be available in the U.S., with more countries coming later next year.
Customers can go into an Apple Store to learn more about the headset and even personalize their fit for their own purchase.
Apple Vision Pro headset: Price
Apple's Vision Pro headset starts at $3,499, which is even more expensive than the rumored $3,000 price tag that was floating around prior to its announcement. That's vastly more expensive than even the Meta Quest Pro, and dwarfs headsets like the Meta Quest.
We're sure to learn more about Vision Pro as developers start to work on applications for the headset. It's a very exciting time to be an Apple fan, and we can't wait to give Apple's vision of augmented reality a go.
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9