WWDC23: Vision Pro, Apple’s powerful new VR headset that unfortunately, few can afford
CEO Tim Cook unveiled the mixed reality headset and demonstrated that its capabilities are quite advanced.
To great fanfare today, Apple officially announced Vision Pro, the augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) headset that technology fans have been awaiting for years. However, this may not be the mass consumer product we all hoped it would be.
During Apple's keynote on Monday at the opening of its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2023), the company's CEO Tim Cook unveiled the mixed reality headset and demonstrated that its capabilities are quite advanced. Unfortunately for fans, however, Vision Pro will only be affordable to the wealthiest of Apple users.
Unlike its closest competitors such as the Meta Quest 3, which is heavily focused on gaming, the Vision Pro is described as a "multi-faceted" device that promises a unique and advanced experience in business scenarios (with support for video conferencing services including FaceTime); everyday life thanks to its compatibility with iPhone or iPad apps; and for entertainment, with hundreds of games and support for streaming platforms.
While it is compatible with controllers such as Sony's DualSense for a unique gaming experience that allows any space to be used as a display, one of Apple's big wins is that users don't need handheld controllers to navigate the Vision Pro's interface.
The company developed its own software called visionOS, described as the first operating system designed for spatial computing. Thus, menu navigation is through eye movement, hand tracking and voice commands. All this shows us that we are looking at a very well-made headset that took years of development and imagination.
Apple Vision Pro: So Good You Can't Afford It
The device is powered by an Apple M2 processor, which not only guarantees compatibility with a wide list of applications supported by the chip, but also performance power worthy of a computer. The chipset is accompanied by a new chip called R1, which handles real-time sensor processing. Its micro OLED displays will also be able to reflect 4K content, this being another of the quality hallmarks that will enrich the user's visual experience.
We cannot deny that the Apple Vision Pro is a very complete, elegant device -- you can read all about its features in depth here -- but its $3,499 starting price tag makes many technology fans dismiss it as an unaffordable device, and, to be honest, they may not need it either.
Unlike the iPhone, which effectively revolutionized the mobile phone market when it launched, the Vision Pro -- despite its sleek design and cutting-edge features -- doesn't stand to make as great an impact given the relatively nascent mixed reality market whose technology hasn't been adopted by everyday consumers. And at such a high price mark, the Vision Pro could be relegated to the professional workplace environment like other high-priced headsets including Magic Leap 2 and Microsoft's HoloLens 2.
And if Apple aims to one day reach mass consumption, the proposition becomes that much more difficult, with consumer headsets designed for entertainment such as HTC's VIVE Pro 2 and the upcoming Meta Quest 3 priced at USD $715 and $499 respectively.
Could a Potentially Small User-Base Scare Away Developers?
The Vision Pro offers VR developers a lot of cool features that could make developing for the system attractive, including the ability to seamlessly port their iOS and iPadOS apps. Plus developers will be able to easily create new apps through Swift, Apple's iOS programming language, so the app catalog in a few months could be quite large. But with a limited audience due to its high initial cost, this could end up becoming a popular early experiment among developers with few end consumers actually buying the system to play their games.
After today's impressive WWDC keynote which definitely lived up to the hype, Apple is now tasked with convincing consumers that a $3,499 AR/VR device is a necessary purchase for everyday tasks and entertainment -- something that, given the current global economy, could be only possible for the highest earners.
The Vision Pro headset is expected to be available on the market in early 2024, we just hope that the project does not suffer the same fate as the 2018 AirPower, Apple's sleek wireless charging mat, whose launch ended up being canceled the next year.
By Sergio Ramos Montoya, Social Geek