The Apple Vision Pro, a mixed-reality headset that integrates virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in one device, is the company’s first offering in the extended reality (XR) category.
The headset, which was unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2023, is anticipated to go on sale in the United States in early 2024 and abroad later in the same year.
According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the Apple Vision Pro is made to “seamlessly blend the real world and the virtual world”. With a curved glass enclosure and an aluminium alloy frame that encircles the user’s face, the headset has a modern appearance.
For astonishing clarity and immersion, it boasts two proprietary micro-OLED screens that give each eye more pixels than a 4K TV. The headgear also features a variety of cutting-edge cameras and sensors that provide inside-out tracking with 6DoF (six degrees of freedom), photogrammetry, and gesture recognition.
With the aid of these technologies, a user may see well, comprehend their surroundings, and communicate with a system using their hands, voice, and eyes. The headset features an internal battery that may last up to two hours, but it can also be plugged in to use all day.
It comes with a wireless external battery pack that can be attached to the user’s clothing or belt. The headset also has a digital crown and a top button that can be used to control the level of immersion and take spatial photos and videos.
visionOS: A New Operating System for Spatial Computing
The Apple Vision Pro runs on visionOS, a new operating system based on iOS that is designed to run XR apps. visionOS features a new user interface that lets the user navigate and interact with apps using their eyes, hands, and voice.
The user can also use the digital crown to bring up the Home View, which shows all the available apps and environments visionOS has the familiar apps that users know and love from iOS, such as Safari, Photos, Music, and Messages.
These apps are transformed to live in the user’s space, where they can be arranged anywhere and scaled to any size. The user can also access compatible iPad and iPhone apps on the Vision Pro, as well as new apps built specifically for visionOS.
A brand-new App Store will launch with the Vision Pro, featuring groundbreaking apps for XR. visionOS also introduces Environments, which are immersive landscapes that magically transform the user’s surroundings.
Environments let apps grow beyond the dimensions of the user’s room, creating the perfect place to focus, relax, or play. For example, the user can choose to work in a serene forest, meditate in a zen garden, or explore a futuristic city.
Environments can also be customized with widgets and shortcuts for quick access to apps and information. visionOS also supports Mac Virtual Display, which allows the user to bring their Mac wirelessly into the Vision Pro.
The user can use the Vision Pro as an enormous, private, portable 4K display for their Mac, and use Bluetooth accessories like Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad for input. Mac Virtual Display is ideal for tasks that require complex spreadsheets, long emails, or multiple windows.
According to rumours, Apple was developing a less expensive model for release in 2025, but this is probably no longer the case:
The CHEAPER Apple Vision Pro headset may have been canceled, according to @mingchikuo 😳
Apple was reportedly working on a lower-cost version for release in 2025, but this is likely no longer the case.
Will $3,499 remain the starting price for at least the next 3 years? pic.twitter.com/m1dkRF84vs
— AppleTrack (@appltrack) October 2, 2023
EyeSight: A New Way to Stay Connected
One of the unique features of the Apple Vision Pro is EyeSight, a curved OLED display on the front of the headset that reveals the user’s eyes to those around them. While utilizing XR apps, EyeSight is made to assist the user in staying connected to their surroundings and social relationships.
EyeSight also alerts others when a user is utilizing an app or is totally absorbed in a particular experience. Realistic eye animations are produced by EyeSight using cutting-edge eye-tracking technology to mimic the user’s eye movements and facial expressions.
Additionally, EyeSight responds to various lighting situations and modifies its brightness as necessary. Additionally, EyeSight can show alerts, emoticons, or other data that the user wants to share with others. The user has the option to activate or deactivate EyeSight at any time using voice commands or hand gestures.
In XR settings, EyeSight is designed to improve communication and teamwork. For example, EyeSight can enable eye contact during video calls or meetings on the Vision Pro, making them more natural and engaging.
EyeSight can also facilitate co-creation and co-play with other Vision Pro users or users of other XR devices, such as the iPhone or iPad. EyeSight can also help the user communicate with people who are not using XR devices, such as family members, friends, or colleagues.
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Future Plans: New Vision Pro Models and AR Glasses
According to reports, Apple is already working on new Vision Pro models that will offer improved performance, features, and design. The company is also developing AR glasses that will be lighter and more accessible than the Vision Pro but will have fewer capabilities and require a connection to an iPhone or iPad.
The AR glasses are expected to be released in 2025 or later. The Apple Vision Pro is a bold and ambitious product that aims to redefine the XR industry and create a new frontier for spatial computing.
The headset is expected to appeal to prosumers, professionals, and enthusiasts who want to experience the best of VR and AR in one device. The headset is also expected to pave the way for future XR products from Apple, such as the AR glasses, that will bring XR to the masses.