If you watched Apple's WWDC event live, you might have had the same reactions to the announcement of the Apple Vision Pro AR/VR headset as I did.
'Oh yeah, that's really cool.'
'Sorry, how much?!'
If that sounds right, you wouldn't be alone. You can even watch the moment Apple revealed that the Vision Pro "starts at $3,499" at its in-person event in a TikTok from katamogz, who was in the crowd when Apple dropped that bombshell. The collective gasp/groan reflects the live reaction of everyone I've spoken to about the headset since.
The newly-announced Apple Vision Pro looks a beast in many respects but it's a divisive piece of tech. Reactions to the headset have been flowing from across the web—ranging from statements that liken this headset's release to the iPhone and subsequent impact it had on the mobile phone market in 2007, to those wondering why Apple would even bother with a price tag that high.
She had to sell everything pic.twitter.com/pIQKRwr55wJune 5, 2023
Over on Reddit, you'll find comment after comment lamenting the price tag over at r/virtualreality.
"I’d thought there was a fair chance they’d let rumours of $3,000 spread so they could surprise everyone with a price that was ~$500 different. Looks like I was right, but in the wrong direction. :)", writes user SvenViking.
"They clearly believe in it but 3499$ is a LOT," VicugnaAlpacos notes.
But there are plenty that are surprisingly positive about the product's price in a roundabout way.
"This is a halo product that will push the innovation in the market, and hopefully in a few years they'll release a lower end set with mostly the same features for a "relatively" cheap $1000," writes Poltergeist97.
One thought shared by many is whether this device is intended for the mass audience, and not more of a development vessel to break in the first wave of apps for Apple's new VR/AR focused visionOS.
"At this point it is a developer device. They need to build up their ecosystem first to compete with meta. Wait for a year or two and they should have a cheaper mass consumer version out," kline6666 writes.
i will be nicer re: apple the bull case is that they ship a high end product first to plant a "apple does it best" flag and then go downstream as tech evolves over timeall of the VR/AR companies are bound by physics and cost and the end goal of "thin vr glasses" is years offJune 5, 2023
Apple could use this product to convince customers that its more affordable option would be a great buy too, even if it's not as high-tech. It's a technique that Apple has shown a mastery for in the past, but it only works if there is a cheaper option released at some point.
There are cheaper AR goggles rumoured to be in the works over at Apple, but reports have since suggested that these have run into challenges and may now be indefinitely delayed.
The technical side of this headset appears unparalleled by anything else today, and taking a look at the specs on offer here, I don't doubt that Vision Pro is truly next-gen in nature.
The Micro-OLED display sounds like it will be absolutely immense, and far exceeds the spec of the best VR headsets on the market today. As someone that loves Valve's audio solution for the Valve Index, I'm specifically intrigued by the Spatial Audio system Apple's rolled into the headband on the device. And no doubt the R1 chip dedicated to the headset's many types of tracking appears a neat solution to keep the processing chip, in this case an Apple designed M2, working on the more demanding stuff.
From those that have tried the headset first-hand, the response has been largely super positive. Devindra from Engadget called it the "best VR/mixed reality tech we've seen yet."
But they also noted in their hands-on feature that, ultimately, it is still a headset and still limited by the things that limit VR on the whole.
"But, like so many VR experiences, it was a completely solitary endeavor," Hardawar writes.
The Financial Time's Patrick McGee said they didn't want to put it down after their hands-on with the device.
If you have tried the Apple headset out and been disappointed, let’s talk please. I just tested it and was WOWED. To an embarrassing degree I was excited and didn’t want to put it away. It’s next level.June 6, 2023
At least this headset doesn't entirely take up your vision. In fact, the headset has largely been advertised as a way to drop apps into the real world, rather than absorb a user with encompassing visuals. You could use this headset for work, then, or maybe you want to escape the monotonous experience of a long-haul flight with a more cinematic experience. Or perhaps, as Twitter user mihir jokes, just give your attention-rattled modern brain something else to look at while you're busy socialising.
The apple vision pro saved our relationship pic.twitter.com/D8urN8SqubJune 5, 2023
The Vision Pro might be doing more to understand its users than you might expect. An ex-Apple developer that says they worked on the project during their time at the company explains on Twitter that the headset uses AI models and biological data to predict a user's intentions. Even going as far as predicting a user's clicks before they've made them.
I spent 10% of my life contributing to the development of the #VisionPro while I worked at Apple as a Neurotechnology Prototyping Researcher in the Technology Development Group. It’s the longest I’ve ever worked on a single effort. I’m proud and relieved that it’s finally… pic.twitter.com/vCdlmiZ5VmJune 5, 2023
This has also set off alarm bells with some over privacy concerns. This sort of biometric data use has been a growing concern over the past few years, as there is potential for a huge amount of personal data to be harvested by a VR headset with cameras and sensors tracking your eye movements, reactions, hands, surroundings, and more. Meta has also shown interest in ways to track a VR user with VR, in order to better advertise to us poor, unwitting souls.
What to make of Apple's latest creation, then? On the one hand, it's probably the single-most impressive piece of VR/AR hardware made to-date. On the other hand, it's so expensive that it will be exclusionary to many, and perhaps intended more for developers than actual users right now.
At least one thing's certain, it's not for PC gamers. This device is proprietary up the wahzoo, as we've come to expect from Apple, and leaves very little on the table for anyone that has already bought into the SteamVR-compatible ecosystem on PC. There will be games for visionOS, including those in Apple Arcade, but you can forget all about Half-Life: Alyx.
It's Meta's Quest 3 that might be a better fit for us, and it's thankfully far more affordable at $499. Meta will also beat Apple to release with the Quest 3 launching later this year—Apple's Vision Pro won't launch until early 2024, which gives any potential customers a long time to mull over the alternatives.