The Apple headset is one of the company's most anticipated products with leaks and rumors dating back to 2017. But after years of speculation, today at its WWDC 2023 keynote, Apple has finally given us a real look at the device it's now calling the Vision Pro.
Created to support both AR and VR applications, the Vision Pro is a standalone headset featuring an innovative design without the need for a dedicated controller. Instead, thanks to the use of multiple external and internal sensors and cameras, Apple is planning to rely entirely on voice inputs and hand/eye gestures. On top of that, Apple has created a new feature called EyeSight that uses the seamless curved display on the headset's exterior so that people can see a user's reactions while someone is wearing the device.
Designed to be as light as possible, the Vision Pro is machined from a custom aluminum alloy, while a digital crown lets users easily adjust their level of immersion. Meanwhile, the headband will be available in three sizes designed to accommodate a range of head shapes while still being soft, comfortable and easy to adjust. And built into the headband are dual-driver audio pods on either side that provide spatial audio. Critically, to reduce the weight of the headset even further, the Vision Pro features an external battery that's connected to the headset with a wire.
When it comes to optics, the Vision Pro uses a proprietary three-element lens with dual 4K micro-OLED displays that Apple says deliver a total of 23 million pixels. On the inside, there are IR cameras and LED illuminators, while the exterior of the device features both LiDAR and traditional camera sensors. Powering the entire headset is Apple's visionOS, which works with the company's new R1 chip and an M2 processor to deliver what Apple describes as responsive, "lag-free" standalone performance.
Additionally, you can use familiar apps like Safari and others while still being able to interact with objects or people in the real world. Apple also says it's creating a new special version of the App Store specifically for Vision Pro, which will be the main way to download new AR and VR software. And while the Vision Pro has been designed for use at home, Apple says thanks to new versions of familiar apps like FaceTime, the headset is also a great collaboration tool for people on the road.
That said, unlike on a traditional video call, Vision Pro users will be represented by what Apple is calling a Persona, which is a digital representation of the user created by data from the headset's sensors and a new machine learning algorithm. Meanwhile, for those who want to get more serious work done, you can also pair the Vision Pro with a Magic Keyboard and Trackpad to create a more traditional desktop setup.
Another feature of the Vision Pro is the inclusion of Apple's first 3D camera. Apple says the camera can be used to capture special moments with added depth information, while also making it clear when a person is or isn't recording footage. Alternatively, if you just want to use the headset as a fancy way to watch TV or movies, there's a dedicated mode for watching videos on a virtual screen that measures up to 100 feet wide. As for gaming, Apple says the Vision Pro supports more than 100 different titles from the Apple Arcade library, with the headset capable of being paired with a PS5 or Xbox controller as needed.
At WWDC 2023, Apple also announced a partnership with Disney that teased new experiences for the Vision Pro including enhanced ways to watch shows on Disney+, AR demos for basketball games and more. That said, while it appears that a lot of these demos are still a work in progress, Disney CEO Bog Iger announced that the Disney+ app will be available on the Vision Pro at launch.
Finally, to ensure the Vision Pro adheres to Apple's security goals, the headset is getting a new Optic ID authentication system that users a person's iris for unlocking and signing on to the device. In addition, Apple claims Optic ID data is both fully encrypted and only stored locally, while info regarding where a user looks will not be shared with any third-party apps or websites.
The Vision Pro is slated to go on sale sometime early next year for $3,499.
Follow all of the news from Apple's WWDC 2023 right here.