After lengthy bout of rumors and speculation about Apple's entry into the VR space, the company unveiled the Vision Pro today, a new mixed reality headset with an eye-watering price tag.
The company is billing Apple Vision Pro as its "first spatial computer," and will launch early in 2024 with a price that "starts at" $3,499 USD. This is a standalone headset that doesn't require a connection to a separate device. It's powered by the same M2 chip used in many of its other devices. A new chip called the R1 is used to process input "from 12 cameras, five sensors, and six microphones" for tracking.
If you want the full breakdown of what the headset can do, you can get it through Apple's own press release - it doesn't appear that the company is interested in letting anyone outside its walls try the Vision Pro right now. The important bit is that the headset is being positioned as something of a lifestyle device, with preview videos showing people watching movies, chatting with family, and using familiar computer software Minority Report-style.
One of the most notable gimmicks is what Apple's calling EyeSight. Basically, it means that when somebody approaches you while you're wearing the Vision Pro, the face of the headset goes transparent so that your eyes show through. In theory, that means you won't feel as closed off from the outside world as you might in a traditional VR headset. In practice, well… half the internet is making the exact same joke about how this looks like goofy diving gear.
The greatest scuba mask that Apple has ever done! #WWDC23 pic.twitter.com/F998udZ4bZJune 5, 2023
Apple snorkel pro pic.twitter.com/vTSumRtMIVJune 5, 2023
Apple's new Vision Pro will deliver new immersive experiences to users for example, in the photos below, these two women are experiencing for the very first time what its like to be a huge ass loser pic.twitter.com/eVlFztsPTcJune 5, 2023
While a skeptical response from the broader internet is perhaps to be expected, even VR enthusiasts are having a tough time mustering much excitement for what Apple's shown off. Over on the r/VirtualReality subreddit, the sentiment broadly seems to be that the tech is cool, but the price is unfathomable - which, in fairness, is pretty typical for an Apple product.
"STARTING at $3499. Yikes," squidc says. "Really great demo, though. I want one."
"When I saw the price I laughed," porcelainfog says. "The Quest 3 can do 90 percent of what this thing can do at a fraction of the cost. The guys at Meta must be popping the champagne bottles right now."
"Only Apple could make a glorified TV, no mention of actual VR experiences, and act like they just changed the world," Pippineddu says.
While this is born out of pure speculation, it's worth noting that there's a sentiment among some observers that this price marks the Vision Pro as a developer-focused device, and something a bit more consumer-friendly could follow once this version gets into the hands of devs and high-end enthusiasts. Only time will tell if that's the case, or if the Vision Pro can rank among the best VR headsets out there.
One thing's for sure - without dedicated controllers, the Vision Pro is unlikely to support many of the best VR games out there.