During the opening keynote of its Worldwide Developer Conference 2023, Apple announced the Apple Vision Pro, its mixed reality headset.
The $3,500 headset features an M2 chip, the same Apple silicon powerhouse used in their MacBook Air series, and a new custom-design R1 chip. The Vision Pro has twelve cameras—including a LiDAR scanner and a TrueDepth camera—, five sensors, and six microphones, It uses a micro OLED display that fits 44 pixels in the space of an iPhone pixel, offering 23 million pixels across two panels that are the size of a postage stamp. (For comparison, a 4K TV has around 8 billion pixels).
Aside from the impressive hardware, Apple launched a complete platform for the Apple Vision Pro, including its own real-time operating system, apps, an app store, and development tools.
Apple let a selected group of reviewers and influencers test the headset for 30 minutes. Many said that the headset exceeded their expectations; they forgot they were wearing the goggles; and, that were left wanting more time with it. The experience of wearing the Vision Pro was so transparent that some testers mention taking their phones out of their pocket to open an app without thinking of taking the headset off.
Of course, there are critics among the pundits. A common argument: they see no killer use case for the Apple Vision Pro. Also, for $1,000 you can get the Quest Pro. Who’s going to buy such an expensive headset?
When the Apple Watch was released in 2015, sales were slow. It was an interesting product, but there was no killer use case for the Apple Watch. Experts that the product would last one year, and Apple would retire it from its offer. However, several years later thanks to the Apple Watch the whole wearables category is thriving, with Apple Watch revenues in the billions and growing. It took some years for Apple to refine the product, and for niches like sports and health-tracking apps to seize the scene.
My take is that Apple launched the Vision Pro almost a year before you could buy it at an Apple Store, and during WWDC, so developers can start developing apps for the new platform. The “Pro” in the name is no coincidence. That way, when the headset is finally available, there will be some interesting apps to go along. But the Apple Vision Pro is that: a vision of what can be, and a bold bet from Apple. It will take a few years for the headset to find use cases beyond specialized uses, and to become mainstream.
Meanwhile, at Meta, not even Zuckerberg is using a Quest Pro for work.