During last Monday’s WWDC23 keynote, Apple announced its Vision Pro. The eye-catching product, with a $3499 price tag, is generating much criticism worldwide. As one of the two people in the Benelux who actually got to try the AR headset, I can tell you that this is not justified. In fact, Apple has something very special on its hands.
People interested in the Vision Pro, of course, have long known what Apple’s AR headset has to offer. So I won’t tell you that in this article. Should you want to know more, I would like to refer you to this article on our website. Indeed, in this story I give my natural first reaction to the impressive demo I received from Apple yesterday.
Apple Vision Pro: impressive technology cannot be explained
Over the past few months, we have seen many rumors about Apple’s AR headset. To be honest, I personally was also very skeptical about the company’s plans. During last Monday’s WWDC23 keynote, my point of view already started to change a bit. ‘If they’re going to do it this way, this could still be pretty cool,’ I thought.
Anyway, a price tag of $3499 (about 4,000 euros converted) does not justify it. It’s equivalent to four Apple Watch Ultras or two nice MacBook Pros. A bizarre price for a new product, but it quickly became clear that Apple is looking at the long term. This is a first-generation product, and the category will have to evolve into something affordable and unique over the next few years. It is the first step.
What awaited me a day after the keynote, however, I could never have imagined. Apple gave me the chance to be one of only two people within the entire Benelux to try the unique Vision Pro in advance. The vibe surrounding an event can sometimes be contagious, but the glimpse into the future I was able to get yesterday is one for the books. It provided an experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life and is particularly difficult to explain.
Still, I’m going to try.
The Apple Vision Pro (Image: Apple)
Praise with a healthy dose of realism
What you are about to be presented with is a hymn of praise. That has nothing to do with my soul being tarnished by Apple or that money doesn’t matter to me. I’m looking in this story primarily at the technology itself, the potential it has and the impressive demo I got in Cupertino. Long story short: this is a look at the future ahead and the impressive first step that comes with it.
That’s not to say I expect much from the first-generation Vision Pro. The technology is one that consumers really need to get used to, and the price tag is such that the product is only for a very small group of people.
Nor is it to say that the hardware itself is perfect right now. Now, the two-hour battery life is limited, and as far as I’m concerned, the weight of the Vision Pro really needs to come down as well. Although I have to say that the entire design really needs to be changed dramatically in the coming years if Apple really wants to make this product successful.
There are still plenty of points that can be improved, but Apple doesn’t deny that either. It has been made clear to me several times in recent days that the Vision Pro is just the beginning. And if this is only the beginning, a truly bright future awaits us.
The set with the battery. (Image: Apple)
Image quality Apple Vision Pro steals the show
Of course, with the Vision Pro, augmented reality makes for a unique experience. Apple has handled it in such a way that the environment you are in feels realistic and remains intact at all times. That’s impressive, but it’s the image quality of the AR headset that steals the show.
Not terribly surprising, since each glass in the glasses has more pixels than a 4K television. That logically makes for extreme realism. Something you can see, as far as I’m concerned, best reflected in Experiences. Through them, you can place yourself in all sorts of locations. Think a private concert by Alicia Keys, the top of a high mountain or along the field at an NBA game. The exceptionally high image quality, captured with special 8K Spatial cameras, makes you feel like you’re really there.
I personally think this is best expressed at sports games. For example, at an NBA game I was hanging just above the basket, at the MLB game I was in the base with the reserve players, and at a soccer game I felt like I was just behind the goal. Of course the experience can’t be replicated, but I won’t be buying a ticket to such a game anytime soon.
Although this quality is also certainly impressive with a feature called Landscapes. This allows you to move yourself to a natural area and explore it 360 degrees. Spatial audio makes small details, such as birds in the sky and wind through the trees, feel extremely realistic. You really are in the middle of it all, while in the meantime just sitting on the couch with glasses on.
The Apple Vision Pro (Image: Apple)
Magic Eyes, Magic Hands and Magic Mouth
By the way, sitting on the couch while using the Vision Pro can also be extremely soothing. You don’t have to constantly sit upright to operate the AR headset. Sink back, throw your hands over the armrest and still take control of the headset. Because the Vision Pro has 12 different cameras and 5 different sensors, it sees more than you can see.
The controls work impressively, by the way. The Vision Pro’s eye tracking is of such quality that there is little room for error. You simply look at an icon as if you were looking at an object in the real world, and a simple tap of the fingers causes it to be selected. Futuristic it certainly is, although the extreme arm waving from science fiction movies is not really necessary.
For example, I opened an article in Safari. I read the first few paragraphs, which by the way were razor sharp, put my fingers together and pulled the page from top to bottom. I even played a little with the size of the screen by moving it closer or dragging it farther away. The controls were accessible and the shadows on the objects in my living room provided realism. A delight, in other words.
This was also definitely reflected in an experience with dinosaurs. The living room wall opened up like a theater curtain, revealing a prehistoric world. By standing up, walking to the wall and looking around the corner, I got to see more than I had before. A little scary, because before I knew it, a dino came strolling out of the world and stood in the living room. The scales were razor-sharp and the interaction with the beast (for example, it flinched as I approached) showed me immediately the power of the controls.
Use it anywhere you want. (Image: Apple)
How do you set it up?
Needless to say, the Vision Pro works extremely well, but to do that, of course, the headset must be set up properly. A process that is extremely easy and works quickly.
To properly adjust the size of the headset, you enter a kind of Face ID-like configuration. Your face comes into a circle and you have to look around until the iPhone confirms the setup. Then you scan your ears, as you do with the AirPods Pro for a personalized adjustment. With me personally, it also took a quick measurement of the strength of my glasses and I was ready to go.
Before you start, the Vision Pro gives you a few commands so you get the right experience. First, it makes your surroundings a lot brighter and you have to follow some spheres with your eyes. Then you get the same command in a darker space. Then you extend your hands and are ready to begin.
Vision Pro is the future, provided Apple gets it right
It may all sound a bit vague, but then again it is very difficult to explain. All I can tell you is that anyone who has an opinion about the Vision Pro while only having seen the Keynote doesn’t know what they are talking about.
You think you have an idea about AR or even VR and you even want to compare it to glasses from other companies. But take it from me that this is something you need to experience with your own eyes (and hands). Until you have done this, you can’t have an opinion as far as I’m concerned. This is something you have to experience for yourself to understand what Apple wants to do with this and what its chances of success are.
That chance is extremely high as far as I’m concerned, and a lot of journalists here agree with me. Provided Apple takes its time, gets it right and takes the right steps. If it does, then in about five to ten years we won’t know any better. And then I will always be able to look back on an experience that no one will take away from me for the rest of my life.