Apple unveils Vision Pro ‘mixed reality’ headset

Apple announced its “mixed-reality” headset, its most anticipated hardware launch since Steve Job unveiled the iPad in 2010.

The gadget called Vision Pro will be available by “early next” year. The device combines Virtual Reality and augmented reality which overlays digital pictures on top of real life. Apple announced that it would retail for $3,499 – even more than analysts expected. Meta’s Quest 2 is the most popular VR headset.

Tim Cook’s biggest bet on a product is the Vision Pro, which he launched in 2011, after assuming control from Steve Jobs. Cook is hailed for his operations genius, who has taken Apple’s value from $350bn to $2.9tn. However, he has been criticised by many for reworking old ideas and delaying Apple Car.

Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies said that the launch of the headset should “cement Cook’s legacy” outside operations. “This will not put him in a class with Steve, but Steve is a visionary who stood alone.” Cook’s vision has been carried into the future, he said.

Cook said on Monday that the head-mounted displaywould “seamlessly blend the real world with digital world” and was “the very first Apple product to be looked through, not at”. Cook said that Apple does not expect this device to be a major seller in the short-term. He added that it was “the beginning” of what they call “spatial computer”.

Apple demonstrated the headset in a video recorded at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. The demo showed users playing video games, watching entertainment on large virtual screens, and collaborating by working together on documents and multiple video calls.

Bajarin has tested the device and said that it is “astonishing” when you see it in action. If you are watching a sporting event, it’s as if you were on the field. You are in the middle of the action. If the movie is 3D you are almost in the 3D universe.”

Apple hopes that software developers will create a wider range of VR and AR applications. Apple also hopes that software developers will use the headset to create more VR applications.

Leo Gebbie is an analyst at CCS Insight. He said: “Gaming is the most popular use of VR, but Apple’s headset is more casual, and something that you can give to your parents.” The downside is that it costs $3500. I won’t have the money to buy one of these for my parents until some time.

Apple shares reached a record-high before the announcement. They rose by more than 2 percent to $184.91, surpassing the previous record of January 2022. However, they fell back after the headset was revealed. The shares closed the day at $179.58, a drop of 0.8 percent.

Apple said the device was aimed at white-collar employees, calling it “the ultimate workspace”. Apple surprised analysts by showing people using the device for other purposes than business. They showed them watching videos, reading documents, and browsing the internet.

Apple claimed that the Vision Pro would be “your personal movie theatre”, featuring a screen “100 feet wide” and dimming the real world automatically around the screen. The headset was mainly used to view two-dimensional screens. Meta created full three-dimensional virtual environments.

Carolina Milanesi is the founder of The Heart of Tech. A research group. She said that Apple “plays to both productivity and entertainment as well as work”.

Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger called Vision Pro a “revolutionary platform”. He said that it would enable Disney to create new content. Disney created a video that showed Mickey Mouse leaping out of a picture frame into the wearer’s living room and onto the furniture. Disney’s only service announced at launch for the device was the existing Disney Plus video content.

Apple’s revenue in its current fiscal, which ends in Septembre, is expected to drop by 2 percent. Most analysts predict that it will sell only 200,000 Vision Pro headsets during the first year. Wall Street hopes that the device can contribute to Apple’s revenue in five years and become the biggest computing platform since iPhone.

Apple announced the new versions of its Mac studio desktops, the 15-inch MacBook Air and the first Mac Pro to feature “Apple Silicon”. This marks the end of Apple’s multiyear phaseout process of Intel chips in its entire product portfolio. Apple promised that its latest computers would deliver “outrageous performances”.