We all knew it was coming, especially when Tim Cook delivered the famous “one more thing” line during the WWDC 2023 keynote. And boy, did Apple deliver.
It’s been years in the making, with rumors circulating the internet for a very long time now. Finally, all those can be put to rest because Apple dropped its Apple Vision Pro headset today, complete with visionOS. It’s launching in Spring 2024 and will start at a whopping $3,500.
Before this was announced, even as a big Apple fan, I had no interest in a mixed-reality headset from Apple. My only experience with VR has been with the first-generation PlayStation VR, and I only really used it to play Beat Saber. And I’ve laughed at Meta’s idea of a metaverse because that’s just a huge flop — no one cares about your metaverse, Zuck.
I went into the WWDC 2023 keynote with skepticism — no way Apple was going to sell me on a virtual reality headset. I’ve had some brief experience with VR, and I just don’t particularly care for it! How could Apple prove me wrong?
As it turns out, that’s exactly what it did.
As I mentioned, my only real experience so far with VR has been for gaming. Specifically, just one game. I’m not much of a gamer anymore these days (it’s hard to find time as a parent), but Beat Saber was one of those games I really wanted to play. There have been other VR games I’ve wanted to try, but I never felt like they were “must-haves” like Beat Saber, at least for me.
I’m not huge into VR gaming, to begin with, and Beat Saber is one of the very rare exceptions. Apple Vision Pro had barely any mention of VR gaming at all during the presentation, and that’s what I actually found appealing.
Apple Vision Pro runs on the new visionOS, which is like iOS but designed for a headset. You’ll find all of the familiar apps there: Messages, FaceTime, Safari, Apple Music, and more. In fact, Disney Plus will support visionOS on day one as well — how can one not be excited by those J.A.R.V.I.S.-like interactive menus on the content you’re watching? You can even connect the Apple Vision Pro to your Mac, blowing up what you see on your display on the headset, giving you unlimited screen space.
I actually love the fact that Apple is placing emphasis on the Vision Pro as a productivity headset instead of just another gaming device. I work on my 2020 27-inch iMac every day because I love having a larger screen than the MacBooks I previously used, because I often need to have multiple windows open to refer back to, and I am always multitasking. The idea that I could have unlimited screen space with the Apple Vision Pro is very appealing as a remote worker, I’ll admit.
What’s also impressive, for me at least, is that you don’t need any extra controllers to use the Apple Vision Pro. Instead, the headset has numerous integrated cameras that help with intuitive eye, hand, and voice control. You just use simple eye and hand gestures to navigate through visionOS, as well as do things like move and resize windows, zoom in, and more. It’s basically like taking the navigation of iOS and putting it, well, on your face.
In the late 2000s and early 2010s, when social media was really starting to take off, I had a kind of wish that augmented reality glasses were a thing. I’m nearsighted, so I need to wear glasses 24/7 to see anything, but I thought it would be so cool to have glasses that would augment reality as I saw it with useful information. Let me see a rating for a restaurant or store I’m passing by, or show my driving or walking directions like a heads-up display.
Google Glass came out in 2013, and at the time, I was curious and intrigued by them. But as an iPhone-only user, I wouldn’t have all of my digital stuff accessible on it. The general idea was the future I was dreaming of, but it was too ahead of its time, and it’s no longer a thing.
That’s why I’m hoping that Apple Vision Pro can take off, because it’s the kind of gadget I’ve been wanting for years. Perhaps I’m not able to get real-time data while walking around town, but being able to use Apple’s software in an augmented reality way is going to be really cool. I also like the idea of having a fully immersive experience with my media when I just want to wind down after a long day of work and looking after a nonstop toddler.
Now, I’m not a huge fan of how the headset looks, however. My dream was for something more akin to Google Glass or North Focals — glasses with augmented reality tech built-in, and I could even have my prescription lenses in them so I never have to take them off except to charge. But Apple’s Vision Pro is like big, clunky ski goggles right now, and it’s definitely not something I want to walk around town in. If I got them, I would just keep them at home, or I suppose when I travel, but never outside of my hotel room.
I’m excited about what Apple Vision Pro and visionOS will bring, but I really hope that Apple slims down the overall size of the headset in future iterations. I really want to get my hands on one just to check out, but that $3,500 starting price also means that it’s going to be very hard for most people to experience this amazing new technology.
But even with the price issue, Apple still made me want one — and that’s a big deal in and of itself.
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