Apple Vision Pro: Release date, features, news, and price
It is clear that Apple is exploring both VR and AR, but when can we expect an actual product?
UPDATE 6/6/2023: The Apple Vision Pro headset has arrived, blending the looks of ski goggles with iPhone technology, immersing users in a world of spatial computing. Apple officially revealed its AR/VR headset at WWDC 2023 on June 5th, marking the start of what Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman called “the beginning of a post-iPhone era.
|Features / Specifications||Description|
|Display||Micro-OLED, 4K resolution for each eye|
|Chipset||M2 chip and R1 chip for video streaming|
|Frame||Aluminum frame with curved glass front|
|Design||Ski goggles-like design, flexible strap, light-sealing visor|
|Audio||Built-in audio pods with spatial audio|
|EyeSight System||Front-facing display that reveals your eyes to others in the room|
|Operating System||VisionOS, designed for spatial computing|
|Controls||Eye-tracking, voice commands, hand gestures|
|Compatibility||Microsoft Office apps, WebEx, Zoom, Disney+, Apple Arcade|
|Battery Life||Up to 2 hours with an external battery pack connected via a cable|
|Prescription Inserts||Custom Zeiss prescription glass inserts|
|Camera||3D camera for capturing “Spatial” photos and videos|
The original story follows below
It’s one of the most open secrets in the tech world that Apple is working on a virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) headset. Apple hasn’t confirmed this to be true but does consider AR “critically important.”
That could indicate that AR will be more important to Apple as a tool to improve user experience.
A recent interview with China Daily USA seems to support that, with CEO Tim Cook being “incredibly excited about AR” while wanting to keep humanity at the center of the new technology.
We’ve heard more rumors about the headset lately, indicating a looming release. Apple also reportedly showed off the hardware to the board of directors, which they wouldn’t do if it wasn’t almost ready for release.
Here’s what we know, what we think is coming, and what we want to see.
When will the Apple Vision Pro headset launch?
UPDATE 2/16/2023: According to a new Bloomberg report, Apple is planning on revealing the mixed-reality headset at WWDC in June.
Apple hasn’t publicly acknowledged the existence of the VR/AR headset. Many supply chain indicators originally pointed to an early 2023 launch date.
But now, experts believe Apple’s mixed-reality headset won’t make an appearance until later in the year. That’s according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a solid track record when it comes to Apple.
A report from DigiTimes (via MacRumors) says that mass production will start in March 2023. That would mean the release event would be after that.
UPDATE 2/24/2023: After apparent software issues, well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo now states the mixed-reality headset might not launch until Q3 of 2023. It’s even possible it will launch with the iPhone 15, according to Kuo.
That’s for Apple’s first headset, which might be developer-focused. Then another headset is tipped to arrive in 2025, or possibly two, one cheaper and one more premium.
In a April 2023 newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman is confident Apple will reveal its upcoming AR/VR headset at WWDC 2023.
“Apple Inc. has chosen June 5, 2023, as one of the most important days in its history,” writes Gurman in his newsletter. He describes the headset’s launch as “the beginning of a post-iPhone era.”
Isn’t this Apple Glass?
Apple Glass, the AR-only, looks-like-normal-glasses device, isn’t coming until 2025, at the earliest.
Supply-chain analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, says that contact lens-type AR glasses are also in the works, with a 2030-2040 release window.
The headset that’s believed to be coming early next year is a more traditional helmet-style mixed-reality headset.
What will the headset be called?
Bloomberg reported that Apple has new trademark filings for names that could be associated with virtual reality. Those include “Reality One,” “Reality Pro,” and “Reality Processor.”
Could that be the name(s) of the upcoming headset and the chip that will power it? We won’t have long to wait to find out.
What features do we know about?
Apple’s first headset won’t be restricted to VR or AR content – it will feature both.
That means a closed-off helmet-style headset, with external cameras for positional tracking, AR overlays, hand-tracking, and gesture control.
UPDATE 9/14/2022 1:30 PM ET: Apple has now been granted five patents for mixed reality headsets. These patents are related to eye-tracking, image-capturing, and controller processors.
That type of display works in the same manner as our eyes. Essentially, the spot we’re looking at it will appear high resolution, while the periphery is lower quality.
The upcoming headset could also feature an Apple Watch-like crown that allows users to quickly switch between the screen and the real world.
One report from The Information also believes that AirPods will be needed to communicate with others while wearing the headset. That seems a bit clunky to us, but time will tell if this is true.
What kind of processor will the headset have?
Early reports said that the headset wouldn’t do its own processing, instead it would need to be connected to an iPhone or Mac.
Since then, we’ve seen reports of it having multiple chips inside, one of which would be “similar computing power as the M1 for Mac.”
The headset will reportedly come with a 96W MacBook charger to power all of that. That’s the same one bundled with the 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip.
Hardware is cool, but content is king. Apple has reportedly been courting Hollywood directors to create adaptations in AR for their headset.
Expect series like Prehistoric Planet to appear on the device, and more.
How much will the headset cost?
Apple devices are typically sold at premium prices, to match their premium build. Early predictions say the AR/VR headset could cost over $2,000.
This quote was from Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, whose sources say that value was floated around in Apple’s internal discussions.
Apple typically charges a bit more than its competitors for products, locking in margins that have helped it become one of the most profitable consumer-electronics companies ever. The new headset won’t be an exception, but the main reason why the company has discussed price points above $2,000 is because of some of its internal technologies.
If so, this isn’t going to be the mass-market device that Meta’s Quest range is.
But as dates move closer to an actual announcement, that original $2,000 seems to be off by a thousand dollars.
In his latest “Power On” newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that Apple plans to sell the device for $3,000. That’s the good news. The bad news? Well, we’ll let you decide for yourself:
“The device will start at around $3,000, lack a clear killer app, require an external battery that will need to be replaced every couple of hours and use a design that some testers have deemed uncomfortable,” Gurman writes. “It’s also likely to launch with limited media content.”
It only goes downhill from there: Apple’s recent AR/VR headset demo has insiders facing serious doubts
Instead, this will be a premium device, possibly aimed at developers and other users that will build the next apps for Apple’s future devices.
realityOS: What is it?
UPDATE 12/8/22 8:05 AM ET: According to multiple reports, it’s possible Apple could use two different names here. One is realityOS, and the other is xrOS. These could be interchangeable or possibly attached to iOS (realityOS) and macOS (xrOS).
Back in February of this year, developers found multiple references to “realityOS” in Apple’s codebase.
Apple isn’t telling you to go touch grass with that name. Instead, it points toward a new device family, which uses a previously-unknown operating system.
The most likely home would be on the VR headset and subsequent devices. Apple has been working on realityOS since at least 2017, when mentions of “rOS” were found in iOS 13 code.
rOS was built on iOS code, but anything could have changed since then. Apple could have gone the desktop replacement route and built realityOS on macOS.
Full-body FaceTime avatars?
Love your FaceTime avatars but wonder what happens to them in a virtual environment?
Well, according to Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, 1-on-1 FaceTime calls could feature full-body avatars if both people are using Apple’s mixed-reality headset.
Group calls will most likely use normal avatars to represent people, with reports saying the limitation is due to hardware restrictions of the new headset.
Will you want the Apple VR headset?
The $2,000 question: will you want it? Well, that depends on you, really.
If you’re a professional or developer that wants a stable AR/VR platform to create on, the answer is yes. You’ll want this headset to create programs for the next, cheaper Apple headset, slated for a 2024 release.
Home users might want to pass on this, however. The high price and relative lack of content mean this probably isn’t the headset for you.
Unless you’re a serial early adopter, in which case, you’re going to buy it when it’s available, just because.
What will be Apple’s competition?
The VR market is about to get very crowded. Multiple large brands are coming out with their own headsets, starting with Meta’s Quest Pro later this year.
Meta’s device is aimed at business users to transition their jobs from typing on a keyboard (boring!) to a metaverse virtual keyboard (ooh, snazzy!). It will cost upwards of $1,000.
Microsoft is also releasing a new HoloLens early in 2023. The enterprise-focused AR headset will cost thousands. Not one for consumers, but still exciting and likely to push the AR market forward.
HTC is estimated to sell higher amounts of headsets in 2023. VR is one of the things HTC does well, and its recent headsets are all quality.
Then it’s Pico‘s turn. The largest brand for VR in China, they’re on track to ship at least a million headsets this year. Expect a new headset from them in 2023, as we’re due based on their historical release cadence.
What we’d like to see from Apple’s VR headset
We’ve used multiple AR and VR headsets over the years, and most suck. The bar Apple has to surpass is a low one, but that doesn’t make it easy. The company still has to address major pain points.
The biggest is comfort. Most VR headsets are weighty, have uncomfortable straps, and aren’t the easiest to adjust to your head. If Apple can nail comfort, the growing market is theirs.
Most headsets have terrible, or barely-capable, audio playback, but that could change this time. Apple won’t be happy with poor audio, as it focuses on providing solid audio quality on its other devices. Spatial audio in VR content will be awesome.
We’d also love battery life to be a big focus. Power efficiency is there, if it uses the M2 chip. With the average headset running out after two or three hours, Apple knows what it has to do.
That said, if it’s coming with a 96W charger, it might not have much of an internal battery, if any at all.
Interconnectivity between the rest of Apple’s product stack would be great.
The future is virtual
UPDATE 9/29/2022 8:30 AM ET: Apple is already looking to future headsets, as well. According to a new report from The Elec, Apple is asking LG and Samsung about future displays that reach 3500 pixels-per-inch (PPI). Theoretically, this will make future displays even more immersive.
Whatever form Apple’s first VR/AR headset takes, it’s clear the company thinks other forms of reality are the future.
Apple isn’t one to jump into a market, they like to study things first (assuming they’re not creating the category).
The first device might be another “iPhone moment,” changing the face of how we interact with technology. If anyone can get VR and AR mainstream, it’ll be Apple.
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