Apple made a lot of announcements at their Worldwide Developers Conference 2023, but one is getting a lot of people talking.
It’s a $3500 virtual reality headset called Apple Vision Pro.
I was there as Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked things off at the company’s impeccable campus in Cupertino.
“Welcome to what’s going to be our best WWDC ever,” said Cook, foreshadowing what would come later.
First, Apple showed off a new 15-inch MacBook Air laptop, then new features coming in iOS 17, then new iPad features, Apple Watch updates and even a handy way that the iPhone will help you find a lost Apple TV remote.
Then finally, a moment so big, Cook brought back one of Steve Jobs’ favorite phrases.
There’s “one more thing…” The audience, filled with Apple employees, journalists, tech influencers and developers from around the world, clapped in anticipation.
Soon, the future, as we always imagined, was right in front of us.
A pair of ski-like goggles called Apple Vision Pro. Incredibly slick and capable, with a mix of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality features.
Vision Pro can function as a giant computer with multiple screens hovering in the air around you.
It can run apps like you would on your iPhone.
You can watch a movie on a giant 100-foot virtual screen that’s placed in your surroundings, or better yet a virtual landscape you’d never be able to step foot in in real life.
FaceTime, 3D photos and videos, plus a futuristic front screen that displays a visual representation of the user’s eyes underneath.
Vision Pro is powered by twelve cameras, five sensors and six microphones. You control it by “looking” at what you want to do, hand gestures and voice commands.
The tiny displays inside are the equivalent of a 4K TV for each eyeball.
“We’re dealing with a whole new platform, so just like iPhone and Mac, it will touch all of our lives in profound ways… It’s huge, because developers will start writing apps for it, so I could not be more excited,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told me in a quick interview after the event.
When I followed up by asking him about his favorite experience so far in the goggles, he said, “that’s too long a list,” and smiled.
In person, the device looks like the most high-tech pair of ski goggles you’ve ever seen. There’s a cable that runs down the side to a power bank so you can use it anywhere. The battery will last about 2 hours, or you can plug it in with USB-C for continuous use.
The device unlocks by doing an iris scan. Apple calls the feature Optic ID.
The company is already pledging to protect user’s privacy. Apps won’t be able to see your surroundings and where you look won’t be shared with anyone.
Although my time with the headset has so far been limited to just seeing it in person, I hope to go through the looking glass soon. Stay tuned for my eyes on impressions, but until then, Apple Vision Pro seems to be one of the most compelling “reality” headsets yet, truly combining the physical and digital worlds.
You literally rotate a switch on the device to “tune out” the real world and immerse yourself in just the virtual world.
Now, about that price tag. Apple Vision Pro is $3500. I get it, that’s astronomical for an unproven, first-generation device. It’s not even available until “early next year.”
But people spend that amount at the Apple store daily. Sure, it’s for computers and smartphones and iPad and all sorts of helpful technology, but Vision Pro represents a new frontier in computing and entertainment life. It’s connecting and disconnecting at the same time.
I can’t recommend a purchase just yet, but for those that take the dive, they’ll be pioneers in a new reality that’s just getting started.
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