Apple reveals Vision Pro, available for $3,499 “early next year”
After years of speculation, leaks, rumors, setbacks, and rumblings of amazing behind-the-scenes demos, Apple has made its plans for a mixed reality platform and headset public. Vision Pro is “the first Apple Product you look through, not at,” Apple’s Tim Cook said, a “new AR platform with a new product” that augments reality by seamlessly blending the real world with the digital world.
The headset will start at $3,499 and be available early next year. That puts the device in an entirely different class than most existing VR headsets, including the $550 PSVR2 (which requires a tethered PS5 to use) and the $500 Quest 3 that was just announced for a fall release.
The technology on display here is amazing, but the presentation itself, including Apple’s proposed use cases, were thoroughly dystopian. When you’re wearing it, a video feed of your eyes can be shown on the outside display when talking to someone next to you, which looks like pure nightmare fuel to me. Apple also showed a birthday party where the dad was wearing this thing while his daughter and her friends were blowing out the candles – which, as a dad… Just no. Don’t wear the creepy glowing robot face during your daughter’s birthday party.
Other than that, since it has no controllers, the gaming proposition consisted of regular “2D” games projected on a screen, so you can’t play popular VR games like Beat Saber or Gorilla Tag. Since the device tries very hard to mimic a traditional user interface in VR, many of the renders shown off during the presentation consisted of floating windows. Videoconferencing consisted of floating windows with camera feeds from the participants, for instance, while the VR user’s face is rendered onto an avatar. Showing multiple application windows floating around you definitely looks very cool, but whether or not that’s actually a pleasant user experience? I don’t know.
But the biggest problem with the whole presentation is that Apple has not actually showed off anything tangible. Everything shown off during the keynote was fake – prerendered special effects layered onto video, and since nobody has received any hands-on time with the actual hardware, and thus nobody outside of Apple has seen the real user interface in action, we actually have no idea how it will actually look, feel, and perform. This is the AR/VR equivalent of using prerendered cinematics to create hype for a video game, and we should know better by now.
If there’s one company that can convince people to spend $3500 to strap an isolating dystopian glowing robot mask onto their faces it’s Apple, but I still have a hard time believing this is what people want.