Apple Vision Pro Impressions!
Apple’s new AR/VR headset, the Apple Vision Pro, has been generating a lot of buzz, with its impressive features and cutting-edge technology. In a recent 30-minute demo, a tech enthusiast had the opportunity to try out the new Apple Vision Pro and ask a myriad of questions to get as much information as possible. The headset, which is slated to start at $3,500 and will go on sale early next year, is a standalone device with its own M2 chip, wifi connection, and a 4K micro-OLED display for each eye.
One of the standout features of the Apple Vision Pro is its eye tracking capability, which the user described as “magic”. The eye tracking is so precise that the user could navigate the UI with just their eyes and control the headset entirely with their hands and voice. Additionally, the headset has a unique feature called Optic ID, which uses the unique biometric pattern of the user’s eyes as a form of biometric authentication to log in to the device.
Another innovative feature of the Apple Vision Pro is its two-way passthrough mode, which allows users to see their actual environment without taking off the headset. The passthrough mode is described as the best the user has ever seen in a headset, with stereo, color, sharp, and real-time display capabilities.
Overall, the user’s impressions of the Apple Vision Pro are overwhelmingly positive, noting the impressive build quality, the breathability of the design, and the seamless integration of hand, eye, and voice controls. The eye-catching OLED screen that displays your eyes to the outside world in passthrough mode is also a unique and interesting feature.
In conclusion, the Apple Vision Pro seems to be a groundbreaking AR/VR headset with a host of innovative features that set it apart from other headsets on the market. It’s clear that Apple has raised the bar for what a mixed reality headset can achieve, and it will be interesting to see how the device is received when it launches next year.
Watch the video by Marques Brownlee
– Okay, I’ve used the new Apple Vision Pro. I had about a 30-minute demo just using this new headset. I had about a trillion questions, so I tried to ask as many of them as I possibly could of Apple to get all the answers I could for you and for myself.
So without any further ado, let’s just jump right in. This is everything you need to know so far about Apple’s new AR/VR headset. So the first question, naturally, what is it? So first things first, this is a first generation device from Apple, which we don’t see very often,
But it is an augmented reality/virtual reality headset with a bunch of cameras and sensors inside that you strap to your face. It’ll start at $3,500 and it’ll go on sale starting sometime early next year. Nobody’s been able to shoot video of using it yet,
So I’m gonna have to do my best with descriptions here. But fundamentally, this isn’t something that’s paired to your iPhone or your Mac by default, it’s a standalone computer with an M2 chip inside, its own wifi connection, a roughly 4K micro-OLED display for each eye,
A set of speakers right above each ear on the band, and then a dedicated new R1 chip, which is doing all of the real time processing from all the sensors that make this headset pretty special, but we’ll get to that in a second. So, all right then how does it work?
Well, basically we’ve seen VR headsets and AR headsets before. It’s typically there’s screens on the inside and then on the outside there’s some sort of shell, which has some sensors on the outside that help detect what is in your room around you and help to see the controllers in your hands.
But with this one, there are no controllers at all. They’re not making any for it. There aren’t gonna be any optional accessory. They’re not even gonna design any controllers. You are controlling this thing entirely with your hands, and your eyes, and your voice. So you put this headset on
And basically all over the headset there are an absolute ton of sensors. You have two main forward-facing cameras, two downward-facing cameras, two more cameras for the sides, two infrared illuminators, a LiDAR scanner, a TrueDepth camera. These are all to keep track of what’s happening around the headset
And also to track your hands in front of your face. And then on the inside, there’s also a bunch of infrared illuminators and infrared cameras that are purely there, just there to track your eyes. So there’s actually a setup process. Before you even get the headset, you basically measure,
You sort of scan your face with the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone and it uses that depth information about your face to give you sort of a custom cutout. This will be a process that you can do in Apple stores. But basically you get the headset with the custom cutout for your face.
If you have glasses, there are some ZEISS lenses. But you finally get the headset out and you put it on, and there’s some nice meshing on the back, some fabric that stretches and is pretty breathable. It’s built extremely well with all this metal and glass. And then once you get it going,
The most impressive thing about this headset, the most impressive thing is the eye tracking. I’m not even kidding, this eye tracking is sick. So basically the eye tracking in this headset as it looks at your eyes and keeps track of where your eyes move around,
Is the closest thing that I’ve experienced to like magic. Like I don’t, I normally don’t call tech things sort of magical or surreal like this, but this, was even for a pre-release product, kind of unbelievable how well it does. Anytime you move your eyes around the UI, it would immediately highlight
And select exactly what you’re looking at, no matter how small the target was, or what you’re looking at. And then when you wanna select something, all you do is take your fingers like this and just touch them together. That’s how you click. So you look at something, click, look at something, click.
So it’s actually, there’s a calibration process when you first set up the headset, you put it on for the first time, where you basically just look around with your eyes at a bunch of different dots so it learns your eyes. And then yeah, from that point on you’re just cruising,
You’re sailing through everything by just looking at things. And it feels like telepathic. You just look at something and select it, and that’s it. So this is how the whole UI works. Pretty much every other headset has the ability to use your hands to select things,
But most of them rely on the sensors on the outside to keep track of a set of controllers for maximum accuracy. But this massive array of sensors on the outside of Apple’s headset have done an impressively good job of picking up what my hand is doing, kind of no matter where it is.
So like I said, there’s sensors all the way around the thing, they’re facing forward, but they’re facing sideways, and facing down. So I can just kind of rest my hand like wherever and look at stuff and click. I don’t even have to move my head,
I can just look at something and just click my fingers. I kind of did it by accident a few times. Like, I’d just sort of be sitting there and my fingertips would actually touch and I’d select whatever I was looking at. But pretty quickly you get used to just this, just doing this.
Now there are also some text boxes. Occasionally, you want to type something. And so you can look at the text box, select it, and then a keyboard will pop up, and you can look at the letters, but also you can just look at a search box field, and just start talking,
And it’ll start filling in whatever you’re saying ’cause there’s microphones on the headset. And there’s also something they’re calling Optic ID, which is basically kind of just the fingerprint ID of the headset because it’s looking at your eyes and everyone’s eyes is a different unique biometric pattern.
And so you log in just by putting the headset on and it looks at your eyes. So Optic ID, this thing knows your eyes really well. So then you’ve probably seen all these weird looking frames where you can see people’s eyes through it, like this this super weird thing that I’ve never seen
In any other headset. So what is happening here? Well, spoiler alert, it’s not actually transparent. It kind of looks like it’s a glass transparent thing, but it’s not. It appears to be because there’s actually an OLED screen facing out. This is what I would call a two-way passthrough, that’s what I’m calling it.
See, a normal VR headset we’ve seen is, of course, completely opaque. Usually, it’s like black plastic or something like that. So in order to see through to your actual environment without taking the headset off, like for picking up your controllers, or walking around a room without hitting a wall,
They have a pass-through mode. So it’ll turn on a camera on the outside so you can see what’s going on around you. And some pass-through modes are better than others. Some will do it from a single black and white camera. Some will do stereo passthrough from two cameras. Some will do color passthrough.
The passthrough on Apple’s headset is again the best I’ve ever seen in a headset. It’s stereo, it’s color, it’s sharp, it’s real time, it’s really good. So then the eyes you see from the outside are actually an OLED display showing what your eyes look like to the cameras inside the headset.
So it shows your eyes like this whenever you’re using any sort of passthrough mode. And if you can see your environment, it’ll show your eyes. So you’re not actually like looking at someone’s eyes, but it kind of feels like you are, kind of creepy a little bit, I don’t know.
It’s the simplest way of explaining it. If they’re doing something fully immersive in VR, like watching a movie or playing a game then it won’t show their eyes. It’ll show this graphic over their eyes instead. It’s a really interesting look, it’s a bold look.
I just have this like thought of like you’re on a airplane, and the flight attendant walks up and taps you, “Hey, do you want any water?” And you just look up and your eyes shine through the headset. It’s just a weird thing. I don’t think it’s smart,
But I don’t think other headsets are gonna do it because most of them don’t have it in the budget to have a screen facing the outside. But then let’s get to the burning question you’ve probably already been thinking. What does it actually do? So okay, I’m sort of, I’m separating this
Into three bulk categories that I made up, and I’m kind of proud of here, which are computing, content, and connections. Now, actually I should preface this all by saying this is a first gen product. So right now the only apps that show up on the home screen are Apple’s apps.
Just like when the first iPhone came out with no App Store, it’s just Apple’s apps. But the reason this is coming out, or at least getting announced so early, but it’s not coming out till next year, is to give this window for developers to start developing
Their own apps and making cool things for this headset to do that are way more interesting and way more functional. But it does have a core set of functions. So for computing, I think this is the one that’s probably the least likely to be used by most normal people.
But it is a pretty direct shot at what Meta just did with the Quest Pro, the $1,500 Quest Pro. So you can use this thing as its own computer with web browsing, et cetera, with these 4K windows in front of you that you can move around
And do all kinds of stuff with your hands. Now, this will be its own OS. Again, it’s not running off your phone or anything, it’s running a whole new operating system called visionOS. And it seems pretty similar, pretty similar to iPadOS, just in the fact that, you know,
You’re just touching things in iPadOS, and in this headset you look at something, and then you touch your fingers together, and that’s basically just like a normal touch. But I was really impressed with the responsiveness. Again, this was better than any headset I’ve seen. With just your hands, if I wanted to scroll
Through something, like a Safari window, I literally in air would touch my fingers together and drag the window and it would scroll nearly in real time. I would like throw it around, like toss it, catch it, toss it the other way, and start scrolling through things with my finger,
Resizing windows, dragging the corners of things. And I was super impressed with that too. Now if you’re like me, you might have also had some questions about the sharpness. Like, do I really wanna wear something like this for a long time to work like it’s on a computer?
And I think that was also pretty smartly addressed. They use a selective rendering based on the super good eye tracking. So the computing power is basically focusing on sharply rendering the part of the screen that you’re actually looking at, while saving power on the rest. It’s pretty cool and it works so quickly
That I did not notice it while using it. And then the part you’re looking at is actually very sharp. Like I said before, they’re super high resolution screens, they’re 4k. I don’t know if I have a number for refresh rate, but it felt like 120 Hertz.
And, you know, eye fatigue will eventually become a thing with any headset you strap to your face. But this would be on the lower level of eye fatigue compared to what I’ve experienced with some others. And then for even more heavy work, this is kind of nuts,
But they showed it in the keynote. Apparently, if you have a Mac and you wanna do MacOS stuff, you can just with the headset on, just look at your Mac and it will pick up what you’re doing and it’ll mirror the max display as one of the 4K windows
For you in the headset. And then you can even connect a bluetooth keyboard, and a bluetooth track pad, and start working around like it’s an actual Mac, just with a bigger screen wherever you want. Yeah, ecosystem stuff. So that’s computing. I definitely gotta try it. But then, of course, there’s the connection stuff.
You got messaging, you can type out messages to people just like as if you were on a Mac, but there’s also impressively FaceTime. Now, I don’t even know that this is necessarily better than a normal FaceTime holding your phone or like on a laptop, other than the fact
That I guess you don’t have to be holding anything. But you can have people’s windows floating in front of you as you talk to them on FaceTime. But you might also be asking, wait a second, if I’m not holding my phone in front of me, what do other people on FaceTime see?
Well, the answer is they’ll see a 3D rendered model of you that was scanned into the system from your iPhone that syncs up and matches the movements of your face with eye tracking and all the other sensors of the headset. So I got to try it. It is, it works, okay.
So it’s not as good as obviously looking at a person. I just feel like a FaceTime you’re trying to have like a personal connection with the person. And this is obviously more personal than an avatar or like a cartoon of you, but it’s just, it feels kind of somewhere in between.
It’s kind of like a Google Project Starline, which I just did that video about a couple weeks ago. If you haven’t already seen that, I’ll leave a link with a like button so you can check it out. But it feels sort of in that like uncanny valley, you know, moving 3D model territory,
Instead of looking at an actual person. It’s kind of how I picture it. But then last but not least, of course, content. People are just gonna watch content on this thing. And I think this is the industry now that Apple’s jumping into it that is poised to explode.
Like, we’ve had VR games and VR videos for a long time and Apple is now also able to do this. They, of course, put their own spin on it, and they can use the power and the draw of the Apple brand to get content creators, and big motion picture studios, and sports leagues,
And all kinds of creatives to work to make content that looks really good specifically on Apple’s headset and in Apple’s formats. I can personally say from my demo, hell yes, I would watch, I would pay to watch an NBA game courtside in the VR headset. The quality is good enough
And obviously it’s not gonna be as immersive as feeling the energy from the crowd, but you’re not paying courtside prices. You’d probably pay, this is a total guess, 10, 20 bucks to watch an NBA game courtside, or have some subscription to do that. I would totally do that and it would be fun.
But even with regular 2D content like movies, just watching a regular movie, you can totally just sit back, put the headset on, maybe even put some headphones on, and just like on a plain seat, just watch a movie as if you’re in a theater for one, which is pretty sweet.
There is that digital crown on the side that actually lets you spin it clockwise to move in more immersion and fully envelop you in the VR environment. Or you can turn it counterclockwise to bring in more of your real world environment with passthrough in your peripheral vision. Kind of a neat trick.
And then there was also this kind of weird feature where you can take 3D photos and videos with the cameras built into the headset itself. And I did not like this one. So there was a demo of like a recording from a headset camera of a kid blowing out some candles
On a birthday cake basically. And I got to watch this actual scene in the actual Apple headset. So because there’s two cameras like front facing, they can record stereoscopic 3D. So you can turn on the recording and in that moment sit down and record a super immersive video.
And then when you watch it back in the headset, it’s like you’re reliving this moment in 3D, which can feel kind of cool, but I just, I can’t get the image of like the dad at the birthday party with the headset on, just recording things, like walking around. It just doesn’t, it’s.
What kind of memory is that for the other people around you? You know, like I saw this and I immediately thought back to the reasons we all know why Google Glass failed, which is, it was ahead of its time, but it’s also like you’re walking around with a camera on your face,
And everybody knows that you have a camera on your face. It just wasn’t cool. Dad, what are you doing? Why do you, why are your eyes sticking out through the headset? Sorry, the number one question I’ve gotten after I’ve actually tried this thing is, is it any good? Is this headset any good?
And the answer is, well, yeah. Some of the parts of this headset that I tried are actually the best I have ever seen in any VR headset by a mile, specifically, the eye tracking and the hand tracking. Now, of course it’s gonna be up to developers to really make it good.
But I think the foundational, like how do you use it part is pretty amazing. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any downsides, all right. Number one, there was no haptics, of course, because you don’t have controllers. You’re just doing everything with your hands in the air.
There’s no way to have any sort of haptic feedback. There was a demo that I did where like I stuck my hand out, a wall on the other side of the room opened up, and a dinosaur was back there, and a butterfly flew out.
I held out my hand and the butterfly flew up and landed on my finger. It could track and see all of that information, and the volumetric, all the computation to make that happen was amazing. But when the butterfly landed and I didn’t feel anything, there was that moment of like,
Oh right, this is a VR headset. But then number two, this was interesting, this is pretty heavy. This is a pretty heavy VR headset, kind of the same way that AirPods Max, the Apple’s metal headphones are heavier than most plastic headphones. There’s a reason why most other VR headsets are just plastic.
It’s not ’cause that’s cheap, it’s because it’s lightweight. It’s fatiguing to have a heavy thing on your head. And this is a headset made of metal and glass, it’s heavy. Now it is also super well built. Like, there is no arguing that. But I do wonder about using it for longer
Than the half hour that I did. I wonder if it would be more fatiguing to my head. That’s also actually why the battery isn’t attached to it. That would be a ton of weight to carry on your head. So they connected the battery instead through a proprietary cable
And then actually can sit next to you on the couch, or in your back pocket. And that brings us to the other thing, the battery life, two hours, two-hour battery life on the headset, which is not that great, it’s not that long. Now there’s a USB-C port on the battery bank
And you can plug that into the wall for infinite time. But the second you unplug from the wall, yeah, two hours from that pretty hefty battery bank, which is like, okay, maybe most people won’t be spending a lot of time in the headset. But you did also just show us, Apple,
An ad of people like watching a movie in the headset, that’s already like most movies are two hours plus. So something worth thinking about. It’s just a two hour, I’m sure people will make bigger external batteries for this thing, but two hours. And then also, I couldn’t get a firm answer here
On if there are fans inside or not, but I think there’s fans, like there’s certainly vents for fans anyway. And if you’re gaming for long enough or using it for long enough, do those spin up? Do they ever get loud? Do they ever kill your battery? That’s kind of unclear.
But then, of course, the main thing that everybody’s talking about, it’s expensive. It’s $3,500. So is that pricey? Yeah, that’s very expensive. But this is the thing that is always weird with Apple products. Like there is no direct comp. Like I always, you always say it’s expensive, but like compared to what?
And they did this with the Pro Display XDR. They’ve done this with even AirPods Max a little bit. But like there are several things that this headset does that no other headset does. The eye tracking, the hand tracking, that’s super good. Even if an equivalent headset came along today
And did all of the same stuff that this does, hardware and software wise, it still wouldn’t have FaceTime, it still wouldn’t have like looking at a Mac and then the the ecosystem allowing the Mac display to pop up. So this is kind of something that only Apple could pull off.
So bottom line, you know, I got to try it. I thought it was extremely impressive. But at the end of the day this is not a product for the masses. I mean obviously, right, it’s $3,500. It has the word pro in the name too. But this feels like the Series 0,
Like the Apple watch. Remember when the Apple Watch first came out, the Series 0 where it’s really gonna be up to the first gen, the early adopters, and the developers to decide the direction that this thing goes, to decide what people actually want to use it for.
And that’ll shape the future versions of it that we may eventually get down the road. Then maybe someday there’s like a visionSE that’s like 400 bucks that the masses will all adopt, and it’ll be this next generation hit product maybe. But as of right now, this is very much
In the sort of early adopter people like me, people like watching this video testing phase to figure it out. So that’s the Apple Vision Pro. It’s the rich person’s toy and the developer’s muse for right now. But we’ll see how far this thing goes in the near future. It’s coming out next year.
It’s not that far off, it’s not that far away. It’s really interesting times. Either way, this was also part of a huge, all entire WWDC keynote. So if you wanna watch my recap of the rest of that stuff, ideally get subscribed ’cause there’s gonna be a video recap of the biggest announcements
Of which there are many other things. And also I’ll shout out the WVFRM Podcast to get subscribed there too ’cause the next episode I’ll just say it, it’s a banger, it’s pretty sick. So hit sub, hit like, hang out in the comments. That’s been it for this one. Thanks for watching.
Catch you guys in the next one. Peace.
Video “Apple Vision Pro Impressions!” was uploaded on 06/06/2023 to Youtube Channel Marques Brownlee .