Meta has undeniably been the lone looming Goliath in a field of smaller Davids in the XR scene for years now. With Apple finally making its entrance into the market, Meta won’t be able to go at its own pace.

Apple’s new headset might be an absurd $3,500, putting it in a completely different class than Meta’s upcoming Quest 3 at $500, let alone the Quest 2 now at $300. But the pressure will still be on as comparisons are made between the experience Apple has crafted and what Meta offers.

After all, there’s no denying that while the Vision Pro is packed full of hardware, and has the benefit of Apple’s proprietary and powerful M2 chips, so much of what the headset is doing right is about the software experience rather than the fidelity that’s unlocked with the hardware.

Great Hardware, Struggling Software

The thing is, Meta’s headsets are plenty capable. Quest 2 is still a solid product that is in many ways still best in class and Quest 3 only promises to up the ante later this year with more power, higher resolution, improved lenses, and better passthrough AR. Meta’s hardware has always been quite impressive, even as far back as the original Oculus Rift CV1.

But on the software side the company has seriously struggled to make usability a priority. For all the lessons the company learned about the power of reducing friction in VR—by building a standalone headset that doesn’t need a computer or external tracking beacons—there has been seemingly little emphasis on making the same reduction in friction by creating a cohesive interface between Quest’s system interface, and Meta’s own first-party apps; let alone providing a set of clear and useful guidelines so that developers and users alike can benefit from a common user experience.

Lean on Me

Meta has leaned substantially on third-party developers to make using its headsets worthwhile to use. Game developers have done the painstaking work of refining how users should control their apps and interact with their worlds in entertaining ways. When you’re inside of a VR game, the developer is fully controlling the experience to make it cohesive and enjoyable, while sussing out the pitfalls that would turn off users—like bugs, convoluted menus, and inconsistent interactions.

If Meta’s headsets didn’t have games—but still did everything else they’re capable of—they would be dead in the water because of how painful it can be to use the headset outside of carefully crafted game experiences designed to entertain. On the other hand, Apple Vision Pro has a minimal emphasis on gaming (at least at the outset), but is spending significant effort to make everything else the headset does easy and consistent. By doing so, Apple is ensuring that the headset will be great for more than just gaming.

SEE ALSO
Pimax Introduces Trial Payment Model to Let Customers Try New Headsets Before Paying Full Price

Despite the price difference between Vision Pro and Quest headsets, Meta is still going to have to stare this thing in the face and come to grips with what it could be doing better—for users, developers, and itself. The good news, at least, is that much of the room for improvement is in the software side of things.

The Vacuum

Until now, Meta has had no serious competition in this space. Its headsets—despite the criticisms I’ve laid out here—have consistently offered the best value in their class, with great hardware and a great game library, all at a very attractive price that others have largely been unable to match.

That’s made it hard for other headset makers to compete and left Meta little need to respond even if other companies do something better or innovative. It’s also meant that developers and users have very little leverage over what Meta decides to do—after all, where else are they going to go if they want an affordable standalone headset with the best library of content?

Meta has been able to create a vacuum in the consumer VR space which on the surface might look like success… but in reality, it has left Meta unfocused on what it needs to do to make its headsets appeal to a broader audience.

Better for Everyone

Now we have Apple in the game, ready to challenge Meta on hardware and the software experience. Price advantage is clearly in Meta’s favor, but it’s going to need to up its game, otherwise it risks losing not just customers, but more importantly developers, who might see greener grass on the other side—especially if they’re looking forward to a future where Apple’s headset comes down in price.

SEE ALSO
Meta-Tencent Partnership to Bring Quest to China Reportedly Suspended

Apple’s entrance into the market might seem like a threat, but ultimately Meta now gets to sit back and examine all the hard work Apple has done over the years, then choose the best ideas to incorporate into its own offerings, while ignoring what it sees as missteps by Apple.

In the end, Apple’s headset is going to force Meta’s headsets to get better, faster. And that’s good for everyone, including Meta.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • impurekind

    That is actually the best thing, not all the hyperbole that’s floating around the Apple Vision Pro like it’s the next coming of the Messiah.

  • Sean Lumly

    The Vision Pro doesn’t have GPU access, you are forced to use a proprietary programming interface. It has become the most locked down general purpose computing device of all time, which sets a dangerous precedent for general computing — not products that are luxuries, mind, but products that people rely on to function in society.

    The system uses Apple’s APIs, accessed via Apple’s proprietary language, on Apple’s proprietary OS, running on Apple’s proprietary processors, inside of Apple’s proprietary product, and with apps gotten from Apple’s proprietary store, all behind a paywall. Developers and users alike are subject to Apple’s decisions.

    • nicelydonebro

      This is the first time I’ve ever seen someone explain the dangers Apples “walled garden” in a calm, rational way. That was a breath of fresh air seeing some Apple criticism not in some cringe Apple-hating circle jerk, so thank you.

      • Sean Lumly

        That was a very kind thing to say. Thank you.

        But it’s not solely for the benefit of the audience, or the exploration of truth through logical argument — it’s for those things, but not only those things. I find deep personal respite in letting go of the team-playing (eg. tech OEMs) and exploring ideas and implications. I would recommend the same to anybody.

        I believe that forums on the internet (like this one), lend themselves to assertion based conversations. And given the short-lived topics and transient populations, it encourages users to shout sound-bytes at one another.

        It’s hard to convey something that is both true and non-triggering, but it may be worth the effort. Harder still, to temper the urges that come from being trigger, but it may that may be worth it too.

        Perhaps the trick is to stop trying to be “right” and instead start trying to find “truth”; together.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      The universe/disqus just sent a sign by destroying an even longer answer, so the short version:

      – Low-level GPU access via the Metal API drives 3D graphics on all current Apple devices, Apple pushes developers to Metal it, and with the Vision Pro OS being another MacOS/iOS variant, using Metal will be required for performance reasons there too. DX12 and Vulkan can be automatically translated to Metal at runtime with very little performance loss.

      – The Vision Pro is as locked down as an iPhone or iPad, and with comapatibility to iOS apps, you will be able to do the same things, which are a lot, but not get access to the file system, parts of the OS or be able to sideload apps, unless you are a registered developer.

      – Swift was designed as a more user friendly version of Objective-C, a C dialect with Smalltalk messaging for OOP, like C# was designed as a more user friendly version of the OOP Java runtime with a C dialect. The Java runtime again is modeled after NeXTSTEP/OpenStep, the object-oriented operating system that was later turned into MacOS. Swift is open source and also supports Android, Windows and Linux.

      – MacOS and all other Apple OS variants are derived from NeXTSTEP, which was based on an open Mach kernel plus BSD. Modern MacOS etc. sits on top of FreeBSD, allowing to openly share a lot of software with Linux/Unix/other BSDs and even Windows due to WSL and it being POSIX compliant. Apple is a very active open source contributor, and if you are using Chrome, you are using a browser that is based on a (now heavily changed) Apple WebKit, because Apple licenced it under a BSD licence that comes with very little restrictions.

      – The “proprietary” M1/M2 processors are using the ARMv8 instruction set with some extensions to allow handling x86 flags for faster emulation, and are compatible with other ARMv8 CPUs like the XR2 Gen 1/2 powering Quest 2/3. They are as proprietary as ARM SoC from Samsung or Qualcomm.

      – Their store is proprietary the same way as the Microsoft Store, the Quest Store, the Epic Store, the Steam Store and many more. Only Apple/Microsoft/Meta … get to decide who is allowed to publish there, and they all take a cut of the revenue, so they are all beyind a paywall.

      – Much more …

      • Isaac

        – Supporting only Metal is a choice by Apple to reduce cross platform apps and create vendor lock-in. They could choose to support Vulkan, which is an open standard but don’t due to above reasons. MetalVK is not “very little performance loss”.

        – The iPhone and the iPad are the poster child of closed ecosystems, so as locked down as them is not a good thing.

        – “Apple’s App store is proprietary the same way as the Play Store” What? How is that relevant? You cannot run other App stores on the iPhone/iPad.

        Owning a locked down platform enables you to avoid competition and enables you to subsist on rent from third parties once you achieve market share. Google pays a third of their net income to Apple every year to be their search provider. This prevents third parties from competing with Google since they can’t pay more rent to Apple than Google can.

        It is one of the shortcomings of Anti- trust laws that little attention is paid to how a platform can disadvantage players in markets where the platform doesn’t operate, or how the platform might advantage itself in newly emerging markets, or otherwise harm a market that’s essential to a competitor.

      • Sean Lumly

        No Metal for Vision Pro AR (as far as can be determined). Just a scene graph. Want to try out some new effect? Too bad.

        ( more: twitter . com/Tojiro/status/1667028702734209025 )

        Apple’s strategy is about increasing friction to ensnare users and developers into their eco-system making it harder to support alternatives. Phone and consoles are oft non-essential devices, but this is for a general purpose computing device.

        I’ll not get into another winding argument with you (tempting though it may be). But I will say that many of your propositions exclude critical context (eg. a system’s openness is not proportional to the OS kernel’s license, etc, etc).

        • SimonBimon

          You can use Metal on the Vision Pro. With that you have an API with a feature set close enough to the silicon to emulate dx12 or Vulkan. Nonetheless, you might be onto something with „Apple trying to lock people in“.

          • Sean Lumly

            I’m not arguing that Metal cannot be used, but suggesting that low level access may not be available for AR.

            I strongly consider reading the twitter thread in the original post. The developer is credible.

            “Apple’s visionOS significantly limits how applications are allowed to interact with the user, especially re: their new gaze-based input, and I think it’s worth talking about.

            TL;DR: If you want to do AR apps, you must give Apple full rendering control.”
            ( more: twitter . com/Tojiro/status/1667028702734209025 )

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            xrOS has three types of scenes:
            – Window, the 2D windows that host iPad apps etc.
            – Volume, for integrating 3D objects into the space
            – Immersive, replacing the whole view and giving the developer full control.

            You get full access to Metal only in Immersive, because in the two other cases your app is basically only one of many clients to the RealityKit compositor, and the RealityKit determines the renderparameters for all its client. Not a perfect analogy, but under Windows a game in fullscreen mode is allowed to change the display resolution, but a game in windowed mode is not, because it would change the resolution for all other currently running applications to.

            When you pick immersive mode, you can either still use RealityKit with the same restrictions, or use CompositorServices to create a session and render via Metal yourself. So while there is a limit to where you get full access to Metall, there is actually also a technical reason why you don’t get full control over the rendering in the “shared” scene modes.

            Source: WWDC 2023 session “Discover Metal for immersive apps”, video available on the Apple developer site.

          • Sean Lumly

            The comment about restriction focuses on “spatial computing” (or AR), which is the devices principle medium (as the marketing would suggest), the mode for general purpose computing, and where most users will likely spend their time.

        • Atlas

          Of course there will be Metal for Vision Pro. It wouldn’t make any sense for Apple to shut so many games that use it.

          • Sean Lumly

            Consider reading the thread in the post you responded to.

            The future remains to be seen: the information provided could be wrong, or things can change.

    • Can imagine a huge Cook sitting on a huge chair watching everyone in the world from above like an overlord…oh boy.

      An Apple world. Everything Apple, everyone with Apple.

      With an Apple.

      • This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.
        ♥️

        • Sean Lumly

          Please be kind.

    • Atlas

      This is exactly the same thing we’ve heard for decades about Apple, and the result is that Apple always does products that people love to enjoy.
      Meanwhile the most open products are bad and fail, see how almost no one uses Linux.

      • … and not just that, the creators of open platforms have the best of
        intentions in mind, certainly: freedom, “coding for all”, etc., etc.
        But we all know, despite the good intentions, what the practical reality is ….
        virus-laden apps, sloppy presentation, and all manner of deviltry & devilment.

        • Sean Lumly

          Not a chance, in fact, it is generally accepted that open software is widespread (to a degree far beyond closed software) and tends to be more secure than closed software.

          You’re probably talking about consumer software.

          • I’ll just be blunt here

            It seems to me that AR/VR is heading the same direction as atari/nintendo.

            atari failed because it had too much garbage and not enough quality. Whereas nintendo lasted a long time until the competition was too much.

            If anything, I’d say nintendo could have a massive hit in the AR/VR market, but lacks the social awareness of anything outside of a gameboy.

      • Sean Lumly

        Nearly everyone uses linux or another open-source derivation of UNIX, including mac users, iOS users, and Playstation users. And it goes beyond that to the very infrastructure of the internet, and the browser that you’re very likely using to read this message. And beyond software, the standards that make these technologies compativle too are open.

        I specifically said “proprietary” to imply developer friction in targeting multiple platforms.

        To your point: I would agree that “good” open-source end-user software tends to be limited.

      • The fact that you unironically ignore Windows has given me a good laugh.

        • Atlas

          Windows isn’t open.

  • Neil Bowes

    Big competition? At $3500? Utter nonsense.

  • Dragon Marble

    This is a much more cool-headed analysis than the other side, where an overexcited Ian Hamilton just declared that App has announced 3 products in one device: “Breakthrough Internet communicator. PC. Phone.”

    For me, a phone is something I can carry with me wherever I go; a PC is something I can swap and upgrade internal components; and who am I going to communicate to if I am the only one in the family/friend circle who owns the device?

    • Isaac

      It might be better if they sent Heaney to these demos.

      • ViRGiN

        Heaney is oriented towards shilling for VR at all costs. Just look at their UploadVR subsription. You want to comment something publicly? First you have to pay. They have went from being critical about VR, to shilling for VR/AR/XR/MR being the end of all previous things. They are no longer “enthusiasts”, they are business shill journalists. Plus the whole lengthy history of UploadVR getting millions straight from Palmer Luckey pocket to keep the service afloat, because average people are smart enough to know that VR isn’t as awesome as it’s portrayed.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      Have you watched the video that was embedded below that statement in the article? “A breakthrough internet communications device, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a new kind of PC” is a quote from the famous 2007 presentation where Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone. Not immediately, he first said they’d introduce tree devices, the ones listed in the quote, then repeated it a couple of times, with the presentation slides cluing the audience in that Apple wasn’t about to introduce three devices that by themselves would have been interesting, but one device that could do it all: the iPhone. So Ian wasn’t referring to the Vision Pro as providing the functionality of these devices, he was referring to this being the introduction of a new class of device that will shift the market in a similar way to how the iPhone did.

      Your should also probably adjust your definition of PC, even if you don’t go for “Personal Computer” as the name giving concept of a computer used by a single person, a novel idea in the late 70s, but instead only refer to x86/Windows, for a long time referred to as a Wintel PC to differentiate it from all the other types of PCs. What you describe is a modular desktop PC, while the majority of “PCs” sold today are laptop with an increasing number of compact PCs, that only allow swapping RAM and SSD. And Microsoft itself weakens that definition further with the Surface series having the RAM soldered on and some even using ARM SoCs, making them technically a lot closer to a MacBook than an x86 desktop PC. Reducing “PC” to a desktop PC would have been more valid in 2007, but Jobs covered that by calling it “a new kind of PC”.

      And don’t worry about Vision Pro users having nobody to communicate with over the internet due to the rarity of the device: the whole idea of the Vision Pro is to seamlessly integrate into the existing Apple device, which of course includes talking to other Apple devices over Apple services. With the demonstrated FaceTime and iMessage integration, Vision Pro users will have 1.2bn monthly active users to share their thoughts with, and I’m sure everybody that can spend USD 3500 for an AR HMD will know at least one person with an iPhone or iPad. Apple is working on enhanced messaging clients for these too, which will add more group and AR features, so it is probably only a matter of time before Vision Pro users will no longer be the only ones shown as 3D personas, but iPhone users too will become 3D heads/avatars in the room instead of floating 2D screens, hopefully with their actual live image being projected onto the avatar as their face won’t be covered by a HMD.

      • Dragon Marble

        I know. I am not aiming for precise logic here. But the idea is the same: it’s too early to declare “the moment”. Sure, Apple has done it before. But this time may be different. Phones and watches are frictionless, lazy products. VR is a different animal. Apple hasn’t found a magical solution to the fundamental physical constraints.

        Think about it. Asgard’s Wrath, Half-Life Alyx and Resident Evil Village, …, all those truly magical experiences have so far failed to bring traditional gamers into VR en mass. Now we think seeing grandma floating in a 2D window is the magic, and grandma also wants to see a video of our digital “persona” rather than a video of us? I know Apple is not targeting gamers, but some gamers were new to VR as well, and we never thought “easing them into VR” using high-resolution virtual screens was such a brilliant idea.

        • Christian Schildwaechter

          So you are aiming for fuzzy logic, how very 80s AI of you :-) It may be too early to call this an iPhone moment. But it is most certainly also too early to judge about the future public acceptance of a product that isn’t released and you haven’t tried, based on a few short demo videos, as Apple prohibited any other pictures of the HMD actually being used by a person to be published or even taken.

          We so far got teasers, and Apple seems to try to as much as possible control the public image and information until the device is released and people can form their own opinion by trying it in an Apple Store. Probably to avoid the negative association of nerds with strapped on headsets sitting in their lonely basements that accompany VR for a lot of people that never tried it themselves. Which is also why they will keep a very large distance from VR games until after they have managed to convince people that the Vision Pro is intended as a useful tool, not as a gaming device.

          No doubt games already exist, but the only thing they wanted us to see/hear is the glowing reports of the tons of YouTubers/Influencers/VR journalists they seem to have invited by the hundreds for the first time. And those were excited about things that are (theoretically) already possible with existing VR headsets, but usually with enough friction to give you a graze. They usually also loved the “boring” cinema and photo options, and some YouTubers fancied using Final Cut for iPad to edit their videos on the road in a boring, but gigantic 2D window maybe not magic, but reason enough to spend USD 3500.

          They were all impressed by how smooth the integration was compared to previous solutions, and how intuitive the Vision Pro was to use with its combination of eye and advanced hand tracking. And the consistent UI, the intuitive input and the responsive capacitative multi-touch screen technology were what made the iPhone so much easier to use, and what in the end led to the 2007 presentation coining the term “iPhone event” for a disruptive change in technology.

          • Dragon Marble

            Yes, one thing is for sure: we’ve never talked so much about a headset so long before its release.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            Depends. What did you do between the 2012 DK1 Kickstarter and the 2016 Rift CV1 release that was supposed to come out just a few months after the DK2 in 2014?

          • Dragon Marble

            Nothing. 2016 was “the moment” for me.

  • kool

    This thing should be capable of aaa vr games, hopefully that gives the aaa vr industry the shot in the arm it needs. I can play cod on my old ass phone but not on quest? Gtfoh

  • And Apple’s entrance sends also a signal to Alphabet, Samsung and Valve to pick up the pace. Competition is always good.

  • Yep, this is similar to what I wrote in my editorial, too. Many developers are frustrated by the closed Meta Quest Store, and will look for opportunities on the Vision Store and the Google XR Store (whatever will be the name). Either Meta changes, or it loses the developer community.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      [Please check the disqus moderation queue for comments on your editorial still waiting to be approved.]

    • Why are devs frustrated by the Quest Shoppe …??

      • ViRGiN

        Because they have shitty app.
        Just like Pavlov. It couldn’t get on Quest/Rift store for multiple years now. So they redirected focus to new platform – PSVR2.

        • How, exactly, does the Store App prevent a game from working? Pavlov is available on both Side Quest as well as PCVR. People have been playing it for years now.

          I don’t know why Pavlov could never seemed to clear it’s way to the official store when so many lesser games have, but that has nothing to do with the “app”.

          • ViRGiN

            If they could post it to the store, they would. If Meta didn’t deem it store worthy, it will remain in applab. And since it’s been there for years, it looks like actually polishing the game is above their skills

    • Let me get this straight: They are upset with Meta’s store, which is a walled garden… so they will instead flock of Apple’s walled garden?

      Ignoring that silly idea, it also seems you haven’t heard of App Lab or the lack of restrictions for using side loading apps like Side Quest. I have games on both.

      It’s dollars to donuts no such thing will ever exist on Apple’s offering. People will have to “Jail break” it, a term invented by Apple users simply because of what a “Jail” Apple products are.

  • S Ander

    I think Apples(and Metas plan with adding AR functions to Quest lineup) is for going AR glasses which could weight under 80 g and people can use all of their waketime even eventually replacing smartphones.

    I doubt Apple thinks that their Vision lineup on its own will be great success but it will serve as foundation towards those AR glasses.

    With Meta getting their EMR controllers(which could be even used for typing) and rumored release date for first gen consumer AR glasses for 2025-2026 there is serious competition coming!

  • Jim Foulk

    Meta’s disadvantage is that it’s Meta. They’ll never live down their own bad reputation

    • Well I have no love of what Facebook has done to Oculus’s management, what Apple has done to consumers and the planet is pretty insane.

      They pioneered the idea of an expensive phone without a user replaceable battery, turning hundreds of dollars worth of tech into billions of tons of electronic waste. On numerous occasions they’ve completely destroyed the backwards compatibility of software over their various devices, something most companies would never dream of. They have even attempted to make it illegal to have your old Apple products repaired outside of their limited company’s support.

      Their exploitation is pretty epic. What’s Facebook’s? Selling your info to advertisers…. something Apple also does.

  • Jeremiah Tothenations

    Totally agree, as much as I like my Quest 2, it’s painfully buggy, unresponsive and highly unintuitive at times.

    Trying to do a simple thing like teaming up with a friend on a second Quest 2 in the same room is a serious feat and every game and piece of software has it’s own convoluted ways of doing things.

    Friction isn’t strong enough a word, it shouldn’t be that bloody hard! The ability to party up should be universal across all apps and with hooks that developers latch onto.

    Hopefully Apple gives Meta a great big kick up the arse and show how it’s done.

    Personally I want another big player to enter the AR/VR market though, a company I actually like!

    • Andrew Jakobs

      But let’s be honest, Apple would also not be able to provide a good experience if they had the same price and SOC restriction. Ok, it would be slightly better due to their vast own experience with developing an OS. But I’ll bet the competition won’t sit still and try to improve the non-gaming experience a lot before the Apple Vision Pro will hit the streets, but it still won’t be as smooth as the AVP due to the limited processing power. At least that would be my order if I were Zuck.

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        Mostly agree, and pretty sure Meta also has a lot of much more capable hardware in their labs that would already allow for a much better experience, but which in its current form is too expensive, too bulky or too power hungry. Apple’s M2/R1 give them a big advantage in available computing power, but the price is a rather large external battery pack. Which is probably more acceptable with the showcased mostly stationary uses, where you can place it on a seat or table next to you, than it would be for a VR headset.

        Similar to Meta they had to make design compromises. Meta put the much larger battery of the Quest Pro at the back of the HMD, providing better balance and making it an actual gain for the main uses, while Apple went for a very soft strap covering the back of the head to not ruin comfort for the heavily emphasized virtual cinema option while lying down or leaning back on a plane. Though I’m sure someone will come out with an (expensive) halo head-strap replacement for the Vision Pro that will allow putting the battery at the back like with the Quest Pro.

        Where I disagree is the “slightly better”. Yes, their interface relies heavily on eye tracking and hand tracking, both of which really benefit from the much faster processors. But we have discussed the benefits of eye tracking for new interface types for years, and when Meta released the Quest Pro with eye tracking, their main use case was avatar gaze, the ETFR implementation was not particular useful, and the UI still was as horrible as ever.

        Apple would probably never have released a HMD based on Quest 2 hardware, instead they would have waited for another 5-10 years if necessary. But if they had, they would probably have come up with a much better interface. They could have achieved a lot of the same completely even without eye and hand tracking, e.g. holding the middle controller button puts you in select mode, now your gaze highlights any object you look at/turn your head towards, A/X selects. This would have worked on a Quest 1, not as elegant as the Vision Pro, but still way less clumsy than the “laser pointers for everyone” option.

        Obviously Meta could have done the same. With Apple saying that this project started ten years ago, they put about as much time into it as Meta has since starting to develop the DK2. And I have to say that this is largely Meta’s fault by not focusing enough on making the Quest more usable. They no doubt had enough people working on it, spent enough money and started enough research projects to improve what was basically still the same interface as with the 3DoF Oculus Go. If Apple would have released an HMD with the same price and SoC restrictions, it would still have provided a good experience, vastly better than Meta.

        Hindsight is of course 20/20, but I also hope that the Vision Pro will light a fire under a lot of butts, because as mentioned above, more elegant solutions would have been possible for a long time. And going back to a discussion we recently had regarding the costs of integrating eye tracking into Quest 3, I now have to alter my conclusion from “it wouldn’t have been that expensive, but the current use cases are still very limited, so maybe it made sense to leave it out” to “not integrating eye tracking into Quest 3 is a big mistake.”

        • Dragon Marble

          I agree with almost everything until the very last sentence. Eye tracking is a critical part of Apple’s UI because they put it faraway from you. Why not bring the menu up close — on your laps, even — so that you can operate them directly with your hands in a relaxed position? I already use Direct Touch on Quest exclusively until the moment I start a game.

          You kind of argued against yourself in the same post by thinking of different ways to improve the UI. I hope Apple inspire innovation rather than copycats.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            The eye tracking is used for a lot more than just menu selection on the Vision Pro. Combined with minimal gestures it allows controlling regular iPad apps like with finger touch. Let’s say you have a longer text you want to read, so you occasionally have to scroll down. You do that by looking at the text, pinch your fingers and slightly twist your hand wrist, a very similar movement as you’d do on an actual iPad, only the movement and the location where it applies are separated, with the first coming from the hand in your lap and the second from the eye tracking. This is necessary because the screens can be huge and located anywhere in your field of view.

            To achieve the same with direct touch, you’d have to limit the size of the screen to about the size of an actual iPad and place it in your lap, thus losing pretty much all the benefits of the 3D window manager and forcing the user into a typical “neck down” position. For simple selections touching a few icons or buttons from a menu within reach is fine, but not with all the rich interactions we use on phones and tablets. It would also be rather fatiguing. On a phone you can scroll for a long time with simple flicks of the thumb, and if your hand tracking isn’t precise enough to detect the same gesture, you have to make a much larger movement with an interface using direct touch, basically scrolling with your arm.

            I now consider not integrating eye tracking a big mistake not only because it is pretty much required for an Vision Pro style GUI, but because none of us saw that coming. We all had heard that Apple was going to integrate advanced eye and hand tracking, yet everyone is baffled how well it turned out to work, with the many people reporting about their hands-on experience regularly dropping a “magical” here and a “mind blown” there.

            And that is just the UI. So I am now wondering what else will be possible with eye tracking that seemingly nobody has thought of. From the hand-ons it became pretty clear that the smooth eye and hand tracking is at the very core of the Vision Pro experience, so I expect them to have found other similar use cases they haven’t shown yet. And next year some developer may come up with something completely new that even Apple has never considered, simply because so far we had no HMDs that used this combination of eye and hand tracking and therefore still have no experience in which ways hundreds of thousands of people will end up using it.

            On a Quest you can/have to currently do without, but you also never use hand tracking for anything anywhere as complex as using MS Office, which they showed as being optimized for Vision Pro. Meta could come up with something not exactly the same, but at least improved a lot, based just on head tracking and working with both controllers and hand tracking. So not integrating eye tracking in the Quest 3 isn’t going to doom it, but it could be cut off from really advanced interfaces for several years, if Apple’s approach turns out to be hard to beat.

          • Dragon Marble

            No, you are still thinking in 2D, like an iPad. In VR the display and the control does not have to be the same object. It’s easy to put a virtual touch pad on your lap or in your palm. But we are probably getting too ahead of ourselves because reading and editing text is not what Q3 is for.

            Eye-tracked UI is not new. PSVR2 has the same. And when given the choice, I believe most people turn off the eye tracking and use the controllers. (They were initially wowed by it as well.) I view Apple’s approach more like a compromise than ground-breaking innovation. There must be cases where you want to look at one thing and click another — maybe when you are frantically hitting the refresh button to try to order a Vision Pro :D.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            I am confused. Either you haven’t seen any of videos from people that got to try the Vision Pro at the WWDC hand-ons, or you have found someone that actually didn’t like the interface, otherwise I have no idea how you could have come to the conclusion that Apple’s approach would be an (inferior) compromise that people will disable if possible. I have seen a lot of them, I found no one that didn’t love the interface, so if you found one, I’d be interested in who it was.

            And there is now an intersting video from Thrillseeker, who implemented the Vision Pro eye tracking highlighting plus hand tracking pinch to select in a demo for Quest 2 and Quest Pro, with the Quest 2 using headtracking. The APK is available for download, so you can try it yourself. Thrillseeker was pretty much blown away by how much more userfriendly his own 24h Unity hack was, and in the end answered his own “do we have to rethink everything we believe about VR” with “sort of yes”.

          • Dragon Marble

            But I tried the eye clicking on my PSVR2. It gets annoying pretty fast. Apple will have to do much better than that. If you know anyone who made a direct comparison of these two, please let me know.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            Have you seen videos from people who tried the Vision Pro? I don’t remember anyone that tried the PSVR 2 to react to the eye tracking UI anywhere as enthusiatic as on the Vision Pro. On PSVR 2 it was basically considered neat, on Vision Pro it is considered a revolution. Even though a lot of those that were invited to WWDC also have experience with the PSVR 2, no one made a comparison or even mentioned it, so I doubt that eye clicking on your PSVR 2 will provide you with anything that is even remotely comparable with the Vision Pro experience.

            I of course haven’t tried the Vision Pro myself, and maybe the seemingly hundreds of YouTubers Apple invited to WWDC all suffer from the Apple reality distortion field, but I doubt it. Apple carefully curated the whole event, allowing nobody to film themselves while using the headset, so all we got were often rather emotional impressions of what they had just experienced. Which was probably exactly what Apple intended, as AR or VR may have to be experienced and cannot be explained (by a video), but we can easlily connect to the emotional reaction to an event that left a lasting impression on someone.

          • Dragon Marble

            As I watched those videos I was hoping someone would say “I know for VR enthusiasts out there none of this seems new, but …” Unfortunately I didn’t hear any. Sorry, I need someone to explain stuff to me, rather than just show me raw reactions. Because being in VR long enough, I know some wow moments do not have lasting power.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            I’ve heard some comments like this, but regarding the shown applications like virtual cinema, not regarding the interface.

            Take a look at the ThrillSeeker video. He provides a lot of background regarding VR UI and why exactly the eye plus hand tracking approach works so well even in his simplified test. In April he posted a review video announcing that he was switching to the Beyond after 4000 hours in VR with the Index. And these numbers are real. So it is safe to say that he is way beyond the WOW phase and has seen a lot more than most VR enthusiasts. He also tried the USD 6500 Varjo XR-3, generally considered the best VR/AR headset that others have described as the closest comparison to the Vision Pro, so he wouldn’t be easily impressed by minor improvements.

            I don’t really understand why it is so hard to believe that there may be a possibly better approach to XR UIs when it gets pretty much overwhelmingly positive reactions. At some point just the statistics of tons of people with VR experience praising it should be hint enough that there may be something going on that isn’t just a short term wow effect. The praise is usually for the opposite effect, the UI isn’t primarily impressive, but instead so intuitive that those who tried it basically forgot it was even there almost instantly, and instead just clicked, moved, scrolled or zoomed automatically without even thinking about it.

    • shadow9d9

      I mean, it is 3 years old and about to be replaced…before Apple releases theirs.

      • Jeremiah Tothenations

        The software should be in a better place after a few years.

  • All these posts about the same thing that are no longer news and not a single post about the availability of the Lenovo ThinkReality VRX which is now available for sale. A review of the headset will be super helpful for people looking to compare it to devices like the Quest Pro or the Vive Elite XR

    • Nepenthe

      The what?

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      It is no replacement for an actual review talking about usability, software etc., but vr-compare_com is a valuable resource for comparing XR headsets, including many you never knew existed. It’s mostly specs plus a short description, but very up to date and currently covering 232 different VR and AR HMDs.

    • Atlas

      Yes, it’s so weird that everyone talks about the Vision that will concentrate most of VR development for the next 5 years and no one talks about something that will be forgotten in 2 years.

    • Wow, maybe you should be doing the articles here instead of the Apple Fanboys. Thanks for bringing this up!

  • DeeJae GodsOwn

    No they don’t. The Quest 2 is $299 – $500 for the Quest 3 I guess. The Apple headset has the ridiculous Apple tax on it. They are literally the Pioneer DJ of any product they make. If you know you know. I won’t be buying it even though I could with a tax refund or next years bonus. Whatever that Apple headset does its not worth $3500!

    • Atlas

      It doesn’t have an Apple tax. Other devices with display of the same resolution are more expensive even.

      • Only the ones marketed exclusively to corporations. This price for consumers is market suicide.

        • Atlas

          I think Apple is the company in the world that most knows what they are doing. I wouldn’t speculate on what their targets are or whether they are attained. This first iteration is mainly so that developer make apps.

  • Rupert Jung

    Don’t forget, Meta let you use ANY app you want to use while Apple just blocks them entirely.

  • Christian Schildwaechter

    Women solved the problem of carrying mobile phones despite dresses without and trousers with useless fake or miniature pockets. I trust them to also be able to solve the problem of carrying a mobile phone sized battery in a similar way.

    I solved the problem of carrying a mobile phone while running without being able to just stuff it into a pocket by strapping it to my upper arm with one of the readily available sports armbands. Not necessarily recommended for daily use and not all that fashionable, but a solution I myself would probably use with a Vision Pro too, instead of sticking the battery pack into my usually already overcrowsed back pockets. Though without doubt the external battery is an inconvenience, and hopefully just a 1st/2nd gen issue.

  • Till Eulenspiegel

    Apple is now making ‘Spatial video’ (it’s VR) content for AppleTV+ (They will never use existing tech terms).

    appleinsider dot com/articles/23/06/11/monarch-legacy-of-monsters-may-be-first-3d-apple-vision-pro-show

    That’s the difference, Meta can never compete in this area – they have no production studios.

    • shadow9d9

      And Apple has no gaming studios.

      • Till Eulenspiegel

        There are thousands of VR games out there, how many VR TV shows or films out there?

        3rd party VR games are plenty, you don’t have to make them. By making TV/movies in VR – Apple has exclusive content in AppleTV+, and their alliance with Disney makes them a powerful force for this new medium. Only Sony has the ability to challenge them.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Factually nor does Apple.. Apple is using other production companies to create products for their streaming service.

      • Till Eulenspiegel

        wikipedia dot org/wiki/Apple_Studios

        • Andrew Jakobs

          I stand corrected ;)

  • silvaring

    Microsoft are in the best position to disrupt the market now that Apple has made their move. I’m glad this happened, because it now seems like we have a guiding light as to what the standard M+KBD interface is going to be in VR, finally.

    The question is whether these next Microsoft headsets will be standalone or tethered, I mean it seems obvious it would be the latter to connect to Windows, but I’m clueless as to all the technicalities involved in this kind of thing, security risks, eye tracking data, APIs etc. What would be the smartest move, for Microsoft to support both standalones as well as tethered, or just one type instead?

    • Andrew Jakobs

      What microsoft headsets?

  • MosBen

    Is anyone else having difficulty with the comments displaying in Chrome on a mobile Android device? I can see the comments, but there’s no threading, just every comment listed one after another. Very annoying to read.

    • check your adblockers, and/or ‘private windows’ that block tracking. You might have to allow tracking/cookies.

      • That isn’t my problem, so I doubt it’s his either. Sometimes the comment section is just locked down to read-only.

  • Sky Castle

    Is the vision pro really a competition though? It can’t even play VR games.

  • This entire article is absurd. It costs nearly x10 as much for starters. That’s hardly competition. The Pico 3 is still the Quest’s only REAL competition. Maybe the PSVR2, if you don’t mind being locked to a console.

    This is more of a huge blunder for Apple, really. Over time, you watch, this is what will happen:

    The technologically illiterate people will say, “VR is real?”, the same way they did with smart phones and MP3 players. Then they’ll see the price tag, go change their underwear, and promptly notice, “Oh, look at the price of the Quest! Look at the price of the PSVR2!”.

    This is a god-sent gift from above, dropped into the lap of Zuckerberg. It gives the company free press for VR in general, yet also ensures it’ll drive hordes of people into their open arms with a completely uncompetitive price. It’ll now be easier to justify the company’s losses to shareholders and might even drag in some new developers into the VR space, solving the only real problem the Quest has had: Content!

    ….But it’ll also allow Facebook raise prices on headsets with such a significant price gap. They’ll feel like they HAVE to, just because they don’t want to see “too cheap”. It’s bad for marketing. The Quest 3 might just be getting a new, higher price tag before it even launches.

    I look forward to the new content. I don’t look forward to price hikes, idiots calling the Quest a “cheap knockoff”, or yet another time Apple fanboys will attempt to retroactively insist a technology was “Invented by Apple”.