Apple’s long-rumored mixed reality headset, Vision Pro, is confirmed to launch in the United States on February 2nd, 2024 with pre-orders beginning January 19th. After years of speculation and anticipation, Apple’s first entry into spatial computing is arriving next month.
A Highly Anticipated Device
The Vision Pro headset has been rumored and reported on for over 5 years, with early reports suggesting Apple was working on some kind of augmented or virtual reality device. The company has remained tight-lipped about its plans, but reports continued to reveal more details over time.
As the assumed launch drew nearer, rumors coalesced around a mixed reality headset powered by a custom Apple processor and a new operating system called RealityOS. The headset would offer both immersive virtual reality and augmented reality capabilities thanks to numerous cameras and sensors.
Apple only officially announced the Vision Pro last week, but fans and industry watchers have waited with bated breath for the company’s take on spatial technology. The device has been expected to push the category forward thanks to Apple’s product design and system integration expertise.
Launching February 2nd For $3499
The Vision Pro will launch on February 2nd in the United States, with pre-orders kicking off two weeks earlier on January 19th. The headset will start at $3499, an undoubtedly premium price point but one that Apple appears confident it can demand.
Only US customers will be able to pre-order the headset initially, though other launch countries are expected later in 2023. Supplies are said to be extremely constrained, with analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicting only 80,000 units available for the launch period. Sell outs are expected.
Customers must pre-order through the Apple Store app on iPhone and iPad, requiring a Face ID scan for identity verification. This new process aims to prevent scalpers from buying up supply. In-store availability will also be limited, at least early on.
The Vision Pro is the first device to run RealityOS, Apple’s new operating system for spatial computing. RealityOS powers the headset’s capabilities and features tight integration with iPhone, iPad and Mac.
|Vision Pro Tech Specs
|Dual 3K OLED Displays
|90Hz or 120Hz
|Apple S8 Chip
|64GB, 256GB, or 512GB
|14+ cameras for tracking and AR
|Hand tracking, eye tracking
|Spatial audio powered by head tracking
Cutting Edge Capabilities
Early reports indicate the Vision Pro headset will offer best-in-class capabilities thanks to Apple’s engineering and design. The company has packed the headset with technologies like:
- Extremely high resolution 3K displays for each eye
- A custom Apple processor delivering PC-like performance
- Over 14 cameras for tracking hands, eyes, and capturing video of the outside world
- Precise head and eye tracking to enable advanced augmented reality
- Spatial audio that shifts realistically as you move and turn your head
- Hand tracking for natural input without controllers
- Tight integration with Apple devices for connectivity, notifications, continuity features, and more
These technologies suggest Apple is poised to offer one of the most advanced mixed reality headsets on the market. The company is leveraging expertise across hardware, software, and system integration to deliver features competitors will struggle to match initially.
Of course, a premium device deserves premium software experiences. Apple revealed Vision Pro will launch with apps and games from leading creators like Industrial Light & Magic, Capcom, Niantic, Adobe, and more.
Apple itself has produced development tools like Reality Composer and Reality Converter to help app makers build next-generation 3D interactive experiences. The company has likely created some showcase first-party apps as well.
The First Step Towards Glasses
For Apple, the Vision Pro headset represents just an initial milestone towards its longer term ambitions in augmented and mixed reality. The company’s leadership believes spatial computing will be critically important going forward, with CEO Tim Cook suggesting it could one day be as significant as the iPhone.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, a reliable Apple insider, reports the company is already working on multiple follow up headsets and aims to release a sleek pair of augmented reality glasses by the end of the decade.
The Vision Pro serves both as a product in its own right to push the spatial computing industry forward, as well as a development platform to help perfect technologies like lens inserts and software capabilities for eventual smart glasses.
Apple typically enters new categories gradually over multiple generations of products. So while impressive, the Vision Pro really represents a starting point setting the foundation for Apple’s grander ambition.
Outlook and Competition
Assuming supply challenges don’t drastically limit availability, the Vision Pro could become the most popular high-end headset on the market this year. Apple’s brand power, intelligent design, and RealityOS ecosystem will give it advantages over current market leaders.
The headset’s US-only launch and $3499 price tag clearly positions it as a premium device, though. Competitors like Meta’s Quest Pro offer compelling capabilities for significantly less, around $1499. The Vision Pro will need to deliver extremely compelling and polished experiences to justify such a lofty price tag for average consumers.
Of course, Apple faces skepticism too as this is its first ever headset product. Some question whether there’s significant mainstream demand for current mixed reality technology, and if the Vision Pro offers enough advances to catalyze the market. There are also concerns around ergonomics and motion sickness, common issues plaguing many headsets currently.
Still, Apple has repeatedly managed to enter markets well after the first movers yet come to dominate through superior product execution and marketing. Similar dynamics could play out with the mixed reality market in the coming years.
The Vision Pro clearly starts a major new frontier for Apple. It may take some iterations before the technology and software capabilities meet their full disruptive potential. But Apple looks determined to make another giant bet on shaping the future of personal computing.
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