The new Apple Vision Pro headset is displayed during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference on June 05, 2023 in Cupertino, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Apple let some people try out its new Vision Pro mixed-reality headset. People seem genuinely impressed by the company’s technology, but the device is notably heavy for long wear, and some users were left with questions about what the headsets will ultimately be used for.
If you missed it, Apple announced its headset on Monday during its Worldwide Developer’s Conference. The $3,499 headset is its first major new product since the Apple Watch in 2014 and is set to launch early next year.
The Vision Pro will allow users to see apps in a new way, in the spaces around them. Users can use their eyes and hands to navigate through apps and search with their voices. The headset can be used to watch movies, including in 3D, with spatial audio, view pictures or videos, and play video games. It can also be used for work with videoconferencing apps, Microsoft Office tools or Adobe Lightroom.
The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern said the Vision Pro was intuitive to use, has the “fit and finish” of an Apple gadget, and is more comfortable than Meta Quest Pro or Quest 2. But even so, she said, “It’s not for everyone. It’s not even for most people.” By the end of the demo, she said her nose and forehead were feeling the weight of the device, and she experienced some nausea.
Stern said Apple showed her a number of different demos, and she said she thinks the most valuable initial uses for the Vision Pro will be for watching movies and working.
9to5Mac‘s Chance Miller said that it was easy to get the Vision Pro to feel “snug” and that it was generally pretty comfortable. He wore the device for 30 minutes and said he could understand that it might be heavy to wear for extended sessions.
He said there was a bit of a learning curve to figure out the right gestures to use, but that the “eye and hand control gestures were really impressive.” He did not experience any motion sickness.
Miller said consuming content like movies, TV shows and sports games was particularly impactful: “The experience is absolutely incredible.”
Apple’s new Vision Pro virtual reality headset is displayed during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) at the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California, on June 5, 2023.
Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images
The Verge‘s Nilay Patel said the device is a “really, really nice VR headset” with impressive video passthrough and displays. “It is easily the highest-resolution VR display I have ever seen,” he said.
But, Patel said even after using the Vision Pro, he did not have a clear answer for what the headsets will ultimately be used for.
TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino said the Vision Pro is “nothing less than a genuine leapfrog in capability and execution” of mixed reality. He said that the gesture control and eye tracking on the device is “near perfect,” and he found that the resolution made text easy to read.
Movies were also a highlight for Panzarino: “3D Movies are actually good in it,” he wrote.
He said that the headset is “really, really well done,” but that he isn’t sure whether the headset will really bring about the onset of spatial computing like Apple claims.
Stratechery’s Ben Thompson said he found the Vision Pro experience “extraordinary,” and that it surpassed his high expectations. He said the user interface feels natural, and that it is “surprising” how high resolution it is.
He said critics are right to question what the device will be used for. Thompson suspects a lot of early Vision Pro users will likely buy the device because they are “Apple super fans” or because they are “interested in its novelty value.”
Thompson wondered if the Vision Pro might become the world’s “most expensive paper weight.”
Even so, he said he suspects the Vision Pro is “the future of the Mac.”‘
Wired‘s Lauren Goode said the Vision Pro’s best selling point is its ability to adjust the immersion level of the virtual environment. She said the headset also “shone” in the entertainment category because of the dynamic experience, and she found that it was intuitive to use.
Goode said the headset felt “hefty,” even with the external battery pack, and her face “breathed with relief” when she took it off. She added that, unlike other Apple devices, this one can’t disappear into a pocket or a bag, so it requires some “suspension of disbelief and a sacrifice of autonomy” to use it.
“Even Apple can’t out-design its way out of what is fundamentally an obtrusive technology,” Goode wrote.
The Financial Times‘ Patrick McGee said the Vision Pro has an “intuitive interface that is novel and intimate,” and that it was entertaining to view photos, watch movie clips and take a call.
McGee said despite the impressive nature of the technology, he said it “is difficult to make the case that any consumer ‘needs’ this device.”