Apple Vision Pro isn’t slated to launch until early next year, but if you’ve got an iPhone 15 Pro you can already start capturing memories as spatial videos.
Update (December 11th, 2023): Apple today publicly released iOS 17.2, the first version of the iPhone operating system that includes spatial video capture (on iPhone 15 or 15 Pro) for use with the forthcoming Apple Vision Pro headset. The capability was first released earlier this year as part of the iOS 17.2 beta.
Since the initial beta release release we’ve learned that the ‘spatial video’ captured by iPhone 15 Pro is a fairly standard ‘over-under’ 3D video format, which means that one eye’s video is encoded in the top half of the frame and the other eye in the bottom half. Special playback software takes these two views and shows one to each eye so you can see the 3D depth.
And luckily Apple wasn’t stretching the truth when they said that spatial video on iPhone 15 pro is captured at 1,920 × 1,080. While they could have used a side-by-side format which would halve the resolution of each eye at that frame size (meaning 960 × 1,080 per-eye), they’re in fact encoding the video in an over-under 1,920 × 2,160 arrangement, which means that each eye gets a full 1,920 × 1,080 after the frame is split.
Because this is a fairly standard 3D format, it’s possible to play back those videos on other 3D capable devices, including existing VR headsets.
That’s pretty cool, because even if you aren’t ready to drop $3,500 on Vision Pro early next year, anyone with an iPhone 15 Pro now has a 3D camera in their pocket which they can use to capture video that can be played back on whichever 3D device they have access to—and just in time for those special holiday moments.
The original article, which covers the beta release of spatial video on iPhone 15 Pro, continues below.
With the recent release of iOS 17.2 beta, Apple quietly added its first pass at spatial video capture for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max.
“Capture spatial video with remarkable depth on iPhone 15 Pro to view in 3D in the Photos app on Apple Vision Pro,” Apple writes in the update’s release notes. “Turn on spatial video capture in Settings > Camera > Formats, then capture spatial videos in Video mode in the Camera app.”
Enabling the mode adds a new Vision Pro icon to the Camera app. Tapping it instructs you to rotate the phone sideways into a landscape view and locks the capture settings to 1,920 × 1,080 at 30 FPS. This allows the phone to capture two video streams from different lenses, then the footage is compared and processed to add depth information to the final video.
An exaggerated example of spatial video playback on Vision Pro
When played back on Vision Pro, the headset’s stereoscopic displays allow users to see the depth as part of the video, but on an iPhone spatial videos play back in monoscopic mode and look no different that a regular video.
Although you don’t have the option to actually watch spatial video yet, it’s kind of nice that Apple is rolling out this feature ahead of the holidays, allowing people to start capturing memories of loved ones today that they might not see for another year.
If you have an iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max and want to try capturing spatial video yourself, you can join the Apple Beta Software Program to install the iOS 17.2 beta.