While Apple’s new Vision Pro headset isn’t going to satisfy the existing base of consumer VR users, it’s mastering the rest of the basics better than anyone else.

Probably 90% of what consumers are using VR headsets for today is entertainment, and of that entertainment, most of it is gaming. And if you’re among those people using such headsets today, you’ll reasonably be disappointed that Apple Vision Pro lacks controllers and isn’t going to be playing top VR games anytime soon. But for everyone else, it’s a back-to-basics approach that’s laying a sturdy foundation to build upon in the future.

Today at Apple’s headquarters I got to check out Vision Pro for myself. Unfortunately the company didn’t permit any photos or footage during the demo, but the clips below are a fair representation of what I saw.

Photo by Road to VR

Apple Vision Pro (AVP, let’s call it) is doing what only Apple can: carving out a subset of what other devices do, and making sure that subset of things is done really well. And given the current state of UX on most other headsets, this is a reckoning that was a long time coming.

Look & Tap

It starts with the input. Apple is leaning heavily into using your eyes as a cursor, and a pinch gesture as a click. The headset has cameras on the bottom that face downward so that even subtle pinches from your hand in your lap are visible and detected. But you don’t see a floating cursor where your eyes are, nor do you see a laser pointer shooting out of your hand. You just look at the thing you want to press, then do a quick pinch.

On paper you might think this sounds shoddy. But remember, this is Apple. They’ve tested and refined this system six ways from Sunday, and it works so well that after a minute or two you hardly think about how you’re interacting with the headset, you just are.

The pinch input is responsive and reliable. It felt so natural that the two or three times the headset missed my pinch during a 30 minute demo it felt really weird because my brain was already convinced of its reliability.

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This look-and-pinch system is so simple for the headset’s basic input that I won’t be surprised if we see other companies adopt it as soon as possible.

Reality First

So there’s the simple input and then there’s a passthrough-by-default view. This is an MR headset after all, meaning it can easily do augmented reality—where most of your view is of the real world, with some virtual content; or virtual reality—where all of your view is virtual content.

When you put AVP on your head, you instantly see the outside world first. In fact, the way that Apple defers to the passthrough view shows that they want to treat fully immersive experiences as the exception rather than the rule. Generally you won’t pop into a fully immersive scene unless you actively making the decision to do so.

The passthrough view is certainly best-in-class, but we’re still probably two generations away from it truly feeling like there’s nothing separating your eyes from the real world. Granted, I was able to read all the text on my phone with no issue, which has been the ‘bar’ for passthrough quality that I’ve been waiting to see exceeded.

Beautiful Virtual Displays

The imperfect passthrough resolution somewhat betrays the exceptional display resolution which exhibits not even a hint of screen-door effect. It may not be ‘retina resolution’ (generally agreed to be around 60 pixels per-degree), but it’s good enough that I won’t know how far off it is from retina resolution until I sit down with an objective test target to find out.

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That’s a long way of saying that the headset’s display has excellent resolution with great clarity across the lens. Top of the class.

This clarity is helped by the fact that Apple has done its Apple-y thing and ensured that panels, text, and images consistently render with superb quality. The entire interface feels iOS-polished with animations and easy to use buttons and controls. The interface was so simple to use that the demo chaperones had a hard time keeping me on task as I wanted to flick through menus and move floating apps around the room.

But here’s the thing, probably 75% of what Apple showed me was essentially just floating screens. Whether it was videos or a floating iMessage app or the web browser, it’s clear that Apple wants Vision Pro to be first and foremost be great at displaying flat content to the user.

The other 25% of what I saw, while very impressive all around, felt like just the start of a journey for Apple to build out a broader library immersive experiences.

Record & Rewatch Memories

AVP might not be a VR gaming headset, but it does at least one thing that no other headset does: capture volumetric memories using its on-board cameras. Using the button on the top of the headset you can capture volumetric photos and videos with just a press.

Apple showed me a demo of a volumetric video capture of a group of kids blowing out candles on a birthday cake. It was like they were right in front of me. I’d never even seen these kids before but I could immediately feel their giddy emotions as they giggled and bounced around… as if I was sitting right there while it was happening. Not to mention that the quality was good enough, at least in this best-case-scenario demo capture, that my first thought had nothing to do with the famerate or quality or dynamic range, but purely of the emotion of the people in front of me.

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That instant connection—to people I don’t even know—was a clear indicator that there’s something special to this. I can already imagine watching a volumetric video of a cherished memory, or of a loved one that has passed, and I know it would be a powerful experience.

Doing it Right

And here’s the thing; I’ve seen plenty of volumetric video demos before. This isn’t a new idea, not even close. The thing that’s novel here is that everyday users could potentially shoot these videos on their own, and readily watch, share, and store them for later. On other headsets you’d need a special camera for capturing, special software for editing, a player app, and a sharing app to make the same thing happen.

This is the ‘ecosystem’ part of XR that’s missing from most other headsets. It’s not about what’s possible—it’s about what’s easy. And Apple is focused on making using this headset easy.

Continue on Page 2: Immersion Isn’t Off the Table »

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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."
  • Till Eulenspiegel

    If Meta started their XR business from scratch, there won’t be any focus on games either – they are all about social media, hence Metaverse. Oculus was all about games, Meta can’t just abandoned them when they bought the company.

    I think eventually Apple Arcade will have a VR section for VR games. They currently supports Xbox and PS5 controllers, while not optimal for VR games, it’s adequate for a sitting-down VR experience. From the presentation, they shown all the users sitting down – I guess it’s due to the wired battery?

    • ViRGiN

      Oculus was never about games – Oculus was about delivering headset and SDK.

      • Till Eulenspiegel

        John Carmack was a game developer, what do you think?

        • ViRGiN

          John Carmack was also a thief and a burglar, breaking into school to steal computers.
          What does that mean?

          • Wait, WHAT …?!?
            Where’d you hear that?

          • ViRGiN

            Are you joking?
            Carmack speaks about in most of his interviews.
            Search for “john carmack thief school computer”

    • Me

      Whatever they say, most of the other usages besides gaming are worse than on a 2D screen. Sure it has the wow factor any VR headset has when you first try it on, but after a while you realize this is NOT the best tool to do productivity.

      I have tried and owned several headsets from the trusty Vive down to Cardboard, both in a consumer and professional context.

      The headset that has the most value for me is still the PSVR2, because it focuses on a single usage and it does it right (in the sens you can live with the quirks since they’re part of the gaming experience and not critical to your life)

      Remember when the Apple watch wanted to be a mini iPhone on your wrist ? Most of these applications were subpar and a letdown to the point it’s now basically a notification machine that happens to track your steps more or less accurately.

      The Vision Pro and Apple’s VR strategy looks similar to the watch’s one, and we have yet to see how it can actually become useful or desirable.

      To my knowledge, it doesn’t solve anything other headsets haven’t, and while the specs are impressive, I don’t need a Ferrari to buy groceries. Even worse, it’s impractical.

      A final word : seated only experiences ? That means it’s not better at handling motion in VR, a point where you could have expected Apple to actually bring something new to the table.

      To me, it’s a very polished but unfinished and overengineered product that should have been a much simpler and much cheaper dev kit that could have sparked great ideas.

      • Till Eulenspiegel

        Anyone who has played with an Oculus headset knows that it leaves the Oculus logo stamped on your face. Image conscious individuals will never attached a headset to their face. Apple can sell iPhones to Instagramers, but you will never caught them wearing this.

        I doubt that this will sell like the iPhone even when the price is lowered in the future. Unlike the Apple Watch, it’s a wearable device that’s on your face – it’s too intrusive and uncomfortable.

        • polysix

          Quest pro doesnt leave any marks, it doesn’t touch your face and is super comfy and easy to put on (no adjustment needed after one time first use as it remembers and stretches to out on head). Quest Pro is now a LOT more desirable at £1k vs vision pro… Apple just boosted Quest Pro sales that does most of this and way more,,, controllers, wireless pcvr, and is better designed, no wire no loose battery, not front heavy like vision or quest 3 will be, stunning clarity even if not 4k micro oled its already stunning on ss pcvr over wife 6e…. Self tracked controllers… i bet META will jump on this opportunity now to re push quest pro as a vision competitor but with a more gaming centric…esp PCVR , ability.

          For me quest pro is the only game in town now for vr or pcvr, I couldn’t care less about ar or mr…

        • You miss the point of all tje individuals you make reference to have zippo problem dropping $1K+ on the latest whizzbang iPhone, just because the camera’s slightly better.

          They will now jump all over AVP, despite the $3500 pricetag, because this is not just another slightly improved iPhone, but a WHOLE NEW THING.

          • Till Eulenspiegel

            You missed the point. Wearing a snorkelling mask looks silly, the instagramers or any glamourous celebrities will not geek out on it like you. It’s not a watch you wear on your wrist, you wear on your face – can you imagine a woman wearing it and messed up her makeup or botoxed face?

          • silvaring

            People will pay cam girls to wear it while on stream and the 3D avatar will not show the goggles at all.

      • polysix

        Hated my psvr2 had to return it, comfort was terrible, cable was annoying and worse..the awful sweetspot, blurry image and horrid mura on all games, even light ones…only things i liked was head haptics, the triggers and hdr…

        Upgraded to quest pro..WOW… wireless no cable wifi6e..playing same games ie re village, but now on 1.5x res, anti aliasing, ray tracing on… so higher res, all that flicker gone, runs smoother, local dimming is almost oled quality but ZERO MURA, much better tracking esp controllers, and completely wireless and can also make my own games and do productivity on it.,, it cost me £700 new only 150 more than psvr2 and does so much more and esp gaming better… looks better too..god the sheer clarity and total sweetspot of the pancake lenses has to be experienced to appreciate… psvr2 is like being half blind by comparison! also… nothing touching the face, super comfy, on and off in2 seconds, no faffing with adjustment or cables or earplugs…

        Sleep on quest pro at your peril, though obv you need a fast pc but great vr is worth it..rtx3080 12900k here… can be had cheap these days… works great! Ps5 is just too underpowered for psvr2 or quest pro level VR.. even a pro would be sadly.

        • Me

          Well, it all depends on the money you have available for that. I think considering the PSVR2’s price it’s still a good deal even with all the shortcomings. It’s better than a standalone quest, and it doesn’t cost, console included, as much as a PC powered solution.
          And then there’s the whole Facebook/Meta discussion. I left the platform years ago and did not look back. While the Quests have their appeal, I’m not willing to go back nor participate in any shape or form into Facebook’s growth.

          Since the time I watched the Lawnmower man movie, VR was to me one of these dreams that were actually reachable. When the Vive came out, I shelled out every single coin I saved to build a custom PC (with a GTX 1080 that was just out) just to set everything up. It started SO great, it was so cool. I was living the dream, finally. And then Facebook happened, bought Occulus, dried out the market by buying all the studios and hiring all the brains. The Vive died on me metaphorically, with its sad little library that Valve could only fill with crappy experiences. And then the thing really died (base stations went wild), and I couldn’t find the appeal to replace it with anything. I tried several other solutions, most in my job, but none were any more convincing. And finally there’s the PSVR2. Admittedly it doesn’t do much more than the others, but as a solid accessory for the PS5 which has very cool games, it’s OK. I don’t expect it to revolutionized the industry, but I feel it’s a nice addition for a gamer like myself, a good balance.

          • shadow9d9

            The comparison will be against the quest 3, noy thr 3 year old quest 2…and I don’t think it will be favorable to the psvr with its mura, cable, and tiny sweet spot.

          • ViRGiN

            and no audio on psvr2

          • Mike

            I was a bit disappointed with the res and Mura on psvr2 then i played the psvr2 version of red matter 2. all issues are gone`. it has shown that these things are largely software issues do to non-native res game and sub 120 hz with reprojection. I really can’t figure it out but there’s plenty of dark areas in this game but i haven’t seen Mura in it like other games. its amazing and you have to see it to understand how much better it is then everything else out there to this point.

        • Zantetsu

          Holy mackerel with the fanposting about Quest Pro. Give it a rest.

          Are you a reincarnation of that guy who used to write fawning walls of text here about that Samsung headset in every article here regardless of relevancy?

      • I understand your point.
        And that’s “understand” as in “comprehend”,
        NOT “understand” as in “sympathize with”.

        Naturally everyone here is extremely pro-XR, so our bias[es] are gonna lean in that direction.
        But even with that being said, with some slight “AR adjusting”, if you will,
        to the 2D app, the clumsiness of using it in AR will go away really quickly.

        And just as someone who spent a lifetime tapping keyboards INSTANTLY
        got use to multtouch screens, so it’ll be with AVP, only 1000x more way cool! lol

        As an aside, I can’t agree more about Apple Watch ….

    • Chris Meeks

      No Many Sky will release on the Mac store soon. It would be a great VR game to start with, especially considering the visuals.

  • ViRGiN

    I don’t remember Apple saying that Vision Pro records volumetric video? Just 3D stereo.

    • Shy Guy

      I expect it records some of the depth information too, so that you can move your head around a little during playback and get slightly different views that make it look a little more real than a fixed position stereoscopic 180 degree video.

      • Erilis

        have you tried the “lightfield volumetric video” that are available online to test these kind of videos?

        • Shy Guy

          Only Google Welcome to Light Fields, but that used an enormous array of cameras to capture that, and since the array needs to rotate, it can only capture stills not video. The still environments were very convincing, though.

          The follow-up video system seems also to require 46 synchronised cameras in a hemispherical array.

          Hopefully the Apple system can capture enough for a small amount of head movement to improve the realism a little.

          • Erilis

            To be able to move just a little bit, requires an insane amount of cameras, and judging from the result from Google light field, I don’t think it’s worth it.

    • Atlas

      They confirmed it’s volumetric.

      • ViRGiN


        • Atlas

          In this article.

  • FMT

    What about field of view, how was it compared to Quest 2?

    • LaRocky

      It’s weird that NOBODY has mentioned this. I’m guessing that is part of the NDA to demo the headset.

    • FXTrader

      I can’t find this information too. I watched so many videos and read so many articles, but no one mentioned FOV.

      So, I guess FOV is not so impressive or else why would Apple hide this information. Probably similar to Quest 2 maybe bit higher.

      • Dragon Marble

        Watch Norm from Tested for the best overview out there. He said FOV is kind of disappointing, but that could be a result of him needing prescription inserts.

        • FXTrader

          Thanks. So probably around 100. Like everyone else. For price like this I expected at least 120

          • Bill Jim

            Norm was using the lens inserts and he said that the FoV felt the same as the Valve Index. So 110 with inserts, means maybe 115-120 without inserts?

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Ben said on twitter that it’s comparable to the Quest Pro.

      • Yenazo

        Yes, I read it by some reviewers too, Index/QuestPro FOV, bigger than Quest 2

  • Arno van Wingerde

    Ah… I was comparing the price to a Mac Pro and several large monitors. But I think Ben is right… It will be better than everything on the market… but probably not good enough to substitute a classic PC setup. As for gestures versus controllers: I guess you are right, but the Quest2 already shows how good gestures can be: perhaps Apple could make it good enough to substitute the controllers? As in pull the trigger when you want to fire? of course we still miss Sony’s haptic feedback. Maybe rings to control?

    • ViRGiN

      Apple can surely make stationary, carpet-sized VR/AR gaming. But without thumbsticks, you aren’t going to locomote freely.

  • Cdaked

    And the Framerate? 90?

  • K E

    I’m still not convinced about the pinching mechanism. The problem is not that the headset won’t detect the pinches you want to make, but that you constantly have to think about *not* making any pinching movements the rest of the time when you don’t want to click on something.

    • nullcodes

      I’m sure they’ll either work out a way to verify intentional gestures or allow you to change the gesture. To me, the pinch action seems to require deliberation and is not something (I think) most people do out of habit. I’m sure Apple testers have lived with the headset for some time so it would have come up in testing if that was not the case.

    • Zantetsu

      Until you’ve used it, why even make that post though? Sell me on the idea that I should care about whether or not you personally believe that it will work, without even having tried it.

    • ViRGiN

      Yup, that was pretty annoying for things like movie watching on Quest.
      Cool to start movie playback, but there were no mechanism to “unlock” controls, so when you grab a snack, you can pause the movie etc

      • One time I did that, and I got mustard all over “The Hunt For Red October”, it was disgusting ….

    • Also the fact the camera need to recognize your hands. With controllers, you can still manipulate switches and 2-axis joysticks without making them visible to the headset.

      Apple is not the end all to UI and I still get aggravated with my iPad having to use presses. swipes, pinch & zoom all the time. It was liberating to add a Dualsense for things that touch just can’t do well.

    • Atlas

      Do you often pinch the air involuntarily?

  • Ondrej

    None of this matters.

    Because this is a closed system with a single app store. Another big step for the dystopian scenario of evil, anti-consumer megacorporations ruling what can be computed by an average Joe.

    George Hotz is right. They want to take our computational freedom and control us completely. This should be a war, but people are already brainwashed. Cyberpunk writers were warning us for decades, but people don’t care. They are devoted to corporations like religious fanatics.

    Just like on iOS, this thing will make it ILLEGAL to port Blender (due to python scripts interpreter and other BS restrictions).

    Funny thing is the most popular VR app – VRChat – breaks Apple’s ToS in multiple ways, but I guess they may get a waiver like Robolox, due to popularity. Depends on the whims and the mood of the emperor Cook.

    How something so insanely restrictive can be “the future” of computation? Depressing. I guess the future is where owning “computers” will be a niche thing for some crazy geeks and the rest of the world will be enslaved by corporations and be happy about it. Humanity is doomed, but it wants to be doomed, so maybe we deserve it?

    • Dragon Marble

      That’s how I feel about Apple too: control. I tried to watch the stream of the event from several VR Youtubers, Apple copy struck all of them — except one: Hugh Hou’s live stream in VR360!

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      It is one thing to argue and warn about the dangers of closed ecosystems, monopolies, lock down patents, consumer-hostile licenses and the overreaching powers of large cooperations. All these are valid concerns.

      It is another thing to come up with a dystopian conspiracy about them taking our computational freedom and wanting to control us, especially when real world dictator try to control the population with surveillance and information control, making Meta/Facebook and Google much bigger culprits than Apple with its track record of emphasizing user privacy, which even came up in the presentation.

      And no, it is not ILLEGAL to port Blender to iOS. There is no law preventing you from building it for iOS, and not even Apple will try to stop you. The only thing that exists is a rule for the Apple store that programs must be completely compiled, so their malware scanning system can detect software that tries to do something it shouldn’t do, which is obviously not possible with interpreted languages like Python that can change its behavior at runtime. But all that will happen is that they don’t allow you to publish apps with interpreted parts to the store. You will not be thrown into prison for asking.

      And you actually COULD port Blender to iOS AND publish it on the store. Large parts of the code are written in C anyway, and Python can in fact be compiled. Python is “compiled” by default for performance reasons, so the second time you call a script it will run faster thanks to directly using the pyc byte code. And with a few coding rules you can also transpile Python into pretty much any other language, incl. C, Not just byte code that still requires a runtime/interpreter. So if you really wanted to not only run Blender under iOS, but also publish it via the Apple store, you could, just not without making some changes that make no sense for the regular Blender distribution. It’s mostly that nobody would bother to do the extra work, because using an app that pretty much needs a three button mouse and thrives on keyboard shortcuts is not a good match for an iPhone or iPad, and the regular Blender community wouldn’t benefit.

      So the main purpose of Blender for iOS seems to be to create a lot of drama about alleged user restrictions, when in reality this is one of the cases where Apple’s argument about restrictions makes a lot of sense. Windows became such a mess of viruses, malware and ransomware because there are an infinite ways of executing code without the user noticing. All Office documents are scriptable, often with system access. PDFs can execute JavaScript, Outlook mails can trigger VBA. The whole design is a security nightmare that had to be dealt with patches upon patches upon patches. Calling Apple’s approach “insanely restrictive” based on that and deriving that the rest of the world will be enslaved and humanity is doomed goes far beyond drama and enters flat earth theory dimensions.

      Again, there are many valid points that can be criticized with Apple, (Meta, Google, Amazon, ebay, Netflix, TikTok …), but that requires looking at what they actually do, why they do it, why/if it is legal and if there may be at least some valid reasons for it. Not running around and screaming that the sky is falling.

    • ViRGiN

      I don’t see Apple chasing weebs and furries to get vrchat on their platform.
      Nobody needs it. It’s anti social social network.

      • CrusaderCaracal

        only thing i agree with you vr chat sucks

  • Scientism

    They haven’t solved the vergence accommodation conflict, so it’s basically a well made overpowered VR with passthrough with some AR features.

    • nullcodes

      VAC can be mostly solved in software especially since it has good eye tracking, from my understanding.

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        VAC cannot be solely solved in software. You can simulate some parts of it by measuring the focal depth from the vergence/position of the eyes and then blurring other layers, but the lenses in the eyes actually stretch to accommodate/adjust for a specific depth, while the optics in XR HMDs work with a fixed focal length and a fixed projection depth of about 1.5m.

        So you could correctly blur the layers that should appear blurred, but the eye will not be able to focus on the correct layer without varifocal lenses that “correct” for the lenses in the eye, so that the combined focal length will again be the distance to the display.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      Pretty much every big breakthrough is based on the “logical” development of current technology with lots of try and error and small improvements that at one point accumulate to something useful. There rarely are true Eureka moments, and most of those reported still turn out to be based on long years of hard work and small steps.

      So sure, this is based on the same principles as every VR headset since Sword of Damocles in 1968, and the passthrough is based on the same principles as the monoscopic b/w pixel mess in the 2016 HTC Vive or even telepresence experiments from the 1980s. And it can’t handle accommodation, there currently aren’t even cameras that are theoretically fast enough to focus at the required speeds, let alone small enough varifocal lenses outside of labs.

      But the fact that they improved the displays and the passthrough and added eye tracking and invested a lot into a type of user interface that works almost frictionless with these improved technologies now allows for something that wasn’t possible before. Did they do something that no one else saw coming or could have predicted? Absolutely no. Is the combined package a breakthrough for XR and XR usability nonetheless? Absolutely yes.

      Will progress end here instead of creating new types of headsets and true see-through AR glasses that will make this “breakthrough” look like a patched together hack in a decade? Who knows, but unless there are some seriously big asteroids approaching earth right know, my guess is it won’t stop here, and we will continue to see lots of small improvements that occasionally accumulate to a breakthrough.

      • Guest

        You really need to do more industrial archaeology of headsets. The current incremental designs, including Apple’s are evolving down the path of extinction. The problems you mention were solved decades ago and it shameful that companies are putting these designs on SOC’s that make people sick.

        • silvaring

          Christian was speaking about Apple’s combined usability interface and form factor being something that is basically solved. What solutions in this form factor came close to solving the interface problem, without wearing massively bulky equipment or additional accessories? Quite simply none, at least none that were not tens of thousands of dollars.

  • Great review, as usual. It is exactly as I expected: ultrapolished. What surprised me is that you said is not top-notch comfort… this is weird

  • polysix

    Quest pro doesnt leave any marks, it doesn’t touch your face and is super comfy and easy to put on (no adjustment needed after one time first use as it remembers and stretches to out on head). Quest Pro is now a LOT more desirable at £1k vs vision pro… Apple just boosted Quest Pro sales that does most of this and way more,,, controllers, wireless pcvr, and is better designed, no wire no loose battery, not front heavy like vision or quest 3 will be, stunning clarity even if not 4k micro oled its already stunning on ss pcvr over wife 6e…. Self tracked controllers… i bet META will jump on this opportunity now to re push quest pro as a vision competitor but with a more gaming centric…esp PCVR , ability.

    I KNEW my Quest Pro was the most comfy, non face hugger design yet… its a joy to wear vs my past 6 HmDs (inc halos like PSVR2 which was horrible)… and imo quest pro LOOKS more like an apple product that vision does (save for the alluminium), vision is ugly, the rear strap is vile, and its another face brick..with a PERMA cable lol… all they had to do was copy quest pro design and save all that fuss.

    The positives of vision, mainly the screens, aren’t viable for standalone or pcvr yet really anyway even on a 4090 if you want top settings and supersampling, esp wireless as we do on quest pro.., and the res feels more than fine already for a few gens before gpus are much faster.

    All standalone vr looks like trash anyway, flat, bad lighting, archaic… pcvr is where its at… the whole point of VR…not cartoon worlds! And here only quest pro offers compact, high quality, balanced PCVR wireless ability… even vive pro and index are janky, overpriced, need bulky addons for wireless, basestations, no pancakes or…etc…

    People sleeping on quest pro are insane, its the only hmd ive owned or tried that feels like true gen 2… (for PCVR), even vision can’t compete all round with so many compromises in the name of casual mass market AR ability…

    Glad APPLE have entered the market, VR needs it…but even at half the price Id still prefer quest pro for actual VR instead of short lived lifestyle gimmicks.

    For me quest pro is the only game in town now for vr or pcvr, I couldn’t care less about ar or mr…

    • wowgivemeabreak

      They aren’t insane for sleeping on it because the Pro is a few months away from being trumped in the main areas by the Q3. Then a Pro 2 is supposedly coming out maybe next year which will probably blow the Pro away.

      I fully expect that just as some Q1 owners cried about the Q2 coming out so soon after it, we’ll be reading Pro owners crying once the Pro 2 comes out and most likely, when the Q3 comes out. They can’t say they weren’t warned.

      I agree with you that the Pro is probably more desirable now after this Apple reveal but then the Q3 is more desirable than the Pro after its little reveal.

      • shadow9d9

        For pcvr, gasket not touching the face..for comfort, that will be hard to beat.

      • polysix

        Grey blacks, no foveated rendering, less comtrast, less colours, battery in front, weight on face, have to adjusr each time, bad tracking on controllers, worse audio, no charging dock,,, ok bud of course. Quest Pro us leagues ahead of quest 3 other than a mild res boost and a chip that is cancelled out by other factors like res and no foveated rendering, and for pcvr quest pro runs 1.5x super sampling, that’ll have to be reduced for quest 3…

        Grey lcd blacks… enjoy. Hated my quest 2 due to colour banding and grey blacks and lack of contrast, all sorted in quest pro but STILL a problem in quest 3… and the 256gb version will on,y be 150 less than you can get quest pro for…which also includes £300 controllers

      • Meta shoots itself in the foot on a near yearly basis. The awkward thing about Quest 3 is that it’s a pretty objectively better headset than pro at half the cost. Duel rgb color passthrough, depth sensor, IPD dial, better SOC. The only thing it’ll need is an head strap upgrade to be comparable on comfort. Some of us like the “face hugger” style strap design as it tends to be more stable during fast paced gameplay.

        • Rupert Jung

          No eye tracking. That’s the killer feature IHMO for any ‘complete’ XR headset.

          • That’s fair, eye tracking is a huge deal in theory, but as far as I’m aware it hasn’t seen very much support yet.

      • polysix

        You really are an ****, you clearly have no idea how amazing quest pro is. Utter fool. Meta already said no more quest pros for a long while either.

        You are utterly deluded if you think q3 is gonna come even close to the all round quality and user experience of quest pro. Why cos of a mild res bump? Pico 4 already has higher res and is jank by comparison to pro.

        Quest 3 is a VERY mild upgrade to quest 2, mainly for standlone, has NONE of the real upgrades of pro like self tracked controllers, good blacks, contrast and increased colour, old face brick design still… please just don’t comment again until you get a clue.

    • Dragon Marble

      Yes, Quest Pro is the only headset I can wear all day, and I expect that to remain true after AVP and Q3. AVP is touted as “revolutionary” and “groundbreaking”. But it was Quest Pro that really broke some ground in terms of features. Ben said it well: The AVP is just more “refined”. But I do hope AVP breaks some new ground in marketing, and somehow brings more general public into VR.

      • PerpetuallySkeptical

        lol AVP. Whoever wins, we lose.

    • philingreat

      Have you tried the Apple Vision Pro? You can only compare two headsets if you tried them both. Every single person who tried the AVP was blown away. For me, the Quest Pro is not comfortable, I can only wear it for 20 min. max before I need to take it off.

    • GmailIsDown

      Why wouldn’t Facebook bring the ergonomic improvements from quest pro to quest 3? It doesn’t cost anything extra.

  • Duane Aakre

    Has there been any information about fitness apps? Apple pushes fitness pretty hard on their phones and watches, so I was surprised nothing fitness-related was mentioned during the show.

  • wowgivemeabreak

    That’s nice and maybe it’s just me but for something that costs 3.5k, I EXPECT it to have top of class display/lenses and other things along that line. If it didn’t, what would be the point in it? All the positives here are things I would expect for that price vs the much cheaper headsets out there. At over 3 times as much as the Quest Pro, this thing SHOULD be hands-down the best headset given the price.

    I can’t wait for the reviews of this when it comes out and how so many mainstream tech media folk elsewhere (not here) will just ignore the price of it, like one shouldn’t expect a headset that costs 7 times as much as something else (Quest 3) to actually be better in XYZ ways.

    As for me, it’s something I won’t buy because I am a VR gamer and this thing seems pretty useless for that. Guy Godin implied he will release Virtual Desktop for it yet without motion controllers or maybe having to go rig up a system of Index controllers and Steam base stations is not something that interests me. I have no interest in spending 3.5k+ on something just to have imessages web browser, and other apps floating in my room. The default battery life is also a joke when you consider there was no limitation of headset weight holding the capacity back like there are for the other stand alone headsets.

    I will say that I hope the apparent UI and software advantages of this will light a fire under facebook’s software team to quit sucking. The Quest OS has become an abomination. I think back to how it was in the early days and how it is now and just shake my head. It may have more stuff in it now but the layout and user experience is far worse. Then there’s how jerky it is, at least on the Quest 2. I’m sure it’ll feel smooth again once the Q3 comes out but unless they change course, they’ll just do what they did with the Q2 and bloat it up and in a couple year’s time it’ll feel jerky on the Q3. I remember when I got my Q2 how the OS felt so much snappier compared to my Q1 but now my Q2 feels like my Q1 did back in late 2020.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      It IS the best AR headset hands-down. It is not a VR headset, even if you could use it for VR. It is also not a set of night vision goggles, even if you could use it for that. It is also not a set of drone racing goggles, a set of smart glasses for taking photos or a headset for microscopic surgery, even though you could use it for all of them. But I am sure that for every of these use cases, you will find a headset that is actually intended for it and works a lot better.

      I’m pretty sure that most VR enthusiasts will be much happier with a Bigscreen Beyond or the Quest 3 than an AVP, and for less money. You just wanted them to release a high end standalone VR headset with great passthrough and controllers for whatever you have done with VR so far. They just didn’t and that was clear from the beginning. The only ones that wanted a different type of HMD and might be still interested could be the micro surgeons, as I expect that compared to the price of their headsets, USD 3500 will be a steal.

      • I like to call anything that provides 6DOF anchored objects XR, since AR can mean so many things from a heads-up display on your windshield to Google Glass. Even ARKit should have been called XRKit, but maybe they were waiting the stereo component.

        And agree with you on surgeons who use something like DaVinci Surgical unit and stare at a monitor. What will be even more impressive is if the object anchoring is rock solid at a millimeter level for DICOM overlays.

        • Christian Schildwaechter

          The problem with covering everything under the generic label XR is that you get situations like this where Apple releases an AR device, but people wanted a VR device and start complaining that the headset is missing features. Which is why I think mentally separating the two is important, even though the distinction can be very fussy and occasionally make no sense at all.

          My simplified definition for categorizing XR devices:
          – If passthrough is on by default and most apps cover only parts of the view, it is AR.
          – If passthrough is off by default and most apps cover the complete view, it is VR.

          Usually I’d say AR also requires being able to interact with single objects in the environment in a meaningful manner like attaching overlays that follow the object itself, which implies object recognition. So MR with everyhing based on anchors just fixed to the room/HMD 6DoF tracking doesn’t qualify, that’s just VR with passthrough. But this gets fussy very fast and ends in not particular useful technicalities. Hence the simpliefied definition, which places the Vision Pro into AR, despite most of what they have shown so far being based on room anchors like Quest MR apps. Though I usually consider MR mostly a fancy Meta term for not AR, but trying to look like it for marketing reasons.

  • nullcodes

    An excellent review! Thanks.

  • Christian Schildwaechter

    The lack of comfort is unfortunate, though I assume that this is mostly an artifact of the public demo. During the presentation they mentioned that they measured 4000 different head shapes and made the strap configurable, so that different users can use different facial interfaces and holders for the back of the strap. These should be closely matched to the individual user’s head shape, and can be tried and configured for any user in an Apple store.

    I doubt that they did that during the public demonstrations at WWDC, everybody most likely got the same generic set of paddings, which like the one-size-fits-all Quest Pro may be a perfect fit for some, but very uncomfortable for others. So I’ll refer judgment until after we have seen what type of customization Apple will provide on launch.

    I’d actually be very surprised if they had messed up the comfort part, since they explicitly talked about needing different padding sets for different users, and a lot of the focus for the AVP seems to be to not get in the way, with the user ideally not even noticing it is there. Which I would consider to be the main distinction between the AVP and a Quest or AR and VR in general: The purpose of an AR HMD is to get out of the way, to let you continue with the activities you already do and only occasionally and on demand add something extra, so you end up with combined eye and hand tracking plus subtle gestures you do in your lap. In contrast the purpose of a VR HMD is to get in the way of reality, to transport you to another realm and get rid of limitations, even if the price is that you have to be mostly blind to your surroundings and firmly grip controllers while widely swinging your virtual sword, hopefully not hitting someone else or needing to grab something while holding large chunks of plastic in your hands.

    The AVP is sort of a “no compromise” AR headset, where features that will interfere with your normal life are rather cut than being allowed to bother the user for some extra functionality. In a way it is more similar to the Bigscreen Beyond as a “no compromise” VR headset. Perfect fit, minimal weight, high resolution image with no lag, so no compromises on things not absolutely essential. No adjustability, no stand-alone, no wireless, no passthrough, no inside-out tracking. All these are nice-to-have, but stand in the way of reducing the headset to the absolute minimum for the purest VR experience.

    The Quest 2/Pro on the other hand is more of a try-everything-at-the-same-time, with a usable, but not fast SoC, with acceptable, but not good passthrough, with some eye tracking, but no eye tracked UI or ETFR. For VR games and social VR and 360° video and virtual cinema and VR conferencing and MR games and meeting friends in Horizon Worlds and working in Horizon Workrooms and the Metaverse and everything. All of which work somewhat, making it very versatile, but none of them provide the best solution we have seen on other XR devices. A different philosophical approach compared to Apple’s and Bigscreen’s “do just one thing, but do it right”. And a different target group, basically everyone, meaning it also has to be cheap to reasonably priced, while the “no compromise” devices target those looking for that one thing done right, and are willing to pay (a lot) for it.

    • Dragon Marble

      They actually did facial scan and custom fit (including prescription inserts and 3D audio!) for everyone trying the demo. But, yes, under the conference setting it wouldn’t be perfect. Still, at the end of the day, it’s a Quest 3 form factor, so we’ll have to be realistic.

  • eadVrim

    I see the AVP (v1.0) is more of a prototype than a consumer product, and Apple wants to tell that it’s here for AR/VR/MR and just waiting for the right time in the near future to pounce on the market.

    • Julien

      It is definitely a minimum viable product but that also means that you won’t see an Apple HMD with a “shittier” experience than this ever. Even when they maybe come out with a mass consumer priced version.

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        There has been talk about a planned second model for ~2026 at a much lower price (~50%) with somewhat reduced specs, not necessarily a followup, could also be a non-pro version. Not sure if this time/cost frame is actually planed and/or feasible. Even though the AVP uses a lot of still very new and expensive technology, and initial yields are low/expensive, reducing the build costs by 50% in such a short time would be hard. Some parts should get significantly cheaper, currently the two displays are estimated to cost USD 350 each, the M2 USD 120, the R1 USD 60, and each of these should get significantly cheaper after two years and at higher volumes. But to cut half the price, they would most likely have to remove some parts.

        According to a leaked BOM, the dense packaging and very complex build currently adds USD 130 just for the assembly. 2016 build labor cost estimates for an iPhone were between USD 12.5 and 30, with the latter considered very expensive. Given that the average Foxconn hourly pay was reported as USD 3.15 last year, this thing has to be a gigantic PITA to assemble. So they would not only need to get the component costs down, but also redesign everything to use a lot less components in a much simpler setup, which could mean less sensors, slightly bulkier build etc.

        I nonetheless agree that this is the lowest level of experience Apple will now accept from their AR HMDs. A few years down the road it will be clear which of the features actually get used and which could be dropped or simplified. And just like Meta removed the tracking rings with IR LED from Quest 3 controllers due now being able to track them with a mix of hand tracking plus fewer visible LED, Apple will probably learn from the first run which of the hardware can actually be removed or replaced by smarter software without the overall experience getting worse.

        • silvaring

          Just a correction the leaked BOM didn’t say 350usd for each display did it? The front display was like 140 and the two micro oleds were like 450 werent they?

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            It actually did. Two 1.3 inch silicon based OLED from Sony for USD 350 each for a total of USD 700. The “silicon based” is the Goggle Lens translation from Chinese, not sure what that’s supposed to mean. Each of the two AVP displays costs more than a complete Quest 2 (back at its old price).

            The OLED front display is listed as only USD 30, though this is just the display, not the lenticular lenses to show the correct eye gaze direction from different perspectives. Adding up to USD 730 just for the displays. The (Google translation) of the other mentioned BOM doesn’t list the front display, only a somewhat suspicious “Rearview mirror: 13-15 dollars”.


            Rumors before the presentation said Sony might not be able to manufacture more than 250K of these displays for a max. of 125K AVP until the launch early 2024, new rumors say production capacity for 2024 is only 900K displays for 450K HMDs total. And the yield of the assembled AVP is currently so low that they have to repair defective display modules instead of replacing them, as they would usually do. They are trying to get Samsung to produce the modules too, but for now they seem to have drastically reduced their sales predictions despite the enthusiastic reactions, most likely because the cutting edge components are simply not available in the required numbers.

  • impurekind

    But gaming is the thing I actually care about. :-o

    And for $3500 . . .

  • impurekind

    So, if we’re all just being real honest here, not really the game changer that Apple wants us all to believe it is, and that quite a few of us have already convinced ourselves it is.

    • Zantetsu

      Not sure you’re being honest. You don’t actually know what the outcome of this will be. Will it increase usage of such headsets among a larger user base and lead to a trickle-in of other features? Who knows. Apple knows how to make products that appeal to consumers. And that are panned by the wilfully ignorant who don’t understand whole vs. sum of parts.

      • impurekind

        Eh, nothing you described is game changing, just the natural course of VR, hence my point.

  • Rudl Za Vedno

    I was hoping to be blown away, but I’m left utterly dissapointed. Simming communities would grab the headset in a heartberat ff Apple would have made it SteamVR/PC compatible, just because of those screens. But as it stands it’s a $3500 flop, not meant for gaming and not for serious devs and content creators :(

  • About the price: around 1985 or so,
    Apple was unabashedly selling Macs for $10,000 …. lol
    For what AVP is, $3500 is a bargain.

    Also, take note that this is called: “Apple Vision Pro”.
    Like iPhone Pro, iPad Pro and Mac Pro, there are regular versions of those devices.
    So maybe the rumored next version for us peons will just be called: “Apple Vision” …?

    • Yeah, but the price difference between pro and regular isn’t that stark usually. The cheaper version could be $2000+ judging from their other product lines.

  • Dell Wolfensparger

    Ben, I ran into you at AWE and we had a quick convo at Apple. Really glad you posted this. I think it was very spot on, and given how long and now many HMDs you have reviewed I thought it very well written. After spending 10 years developing iOS titles, then 10 years developing enterprise apps for XR devices, I can say, RoadToVR got it right. I would only add that millions of Apple devs who have cut their teeth doing iOS development have been given the first XR HW device to develop for, and they will do a good job. Give them time and you see some amazing new use cases for the Apple Vision Pro and visionOS

    • Dragon Marble

      I am curious how the economics would work. I don’t expect this headset to sell very well even in the best scenario. So if you develop an app for it you can’t sell many copies. Would the developers then just be betting on the future, or are there any ways for them to reap some short-term benefits as well? How does this headset solve the chicken-egg issue of building a new platform?

      • Julien

        I think most developers that would develop for this platform already have their app on iOS or iPadOS as it’s easy to port them and “augment” them to adapt to the new visionOS paradigm.
        If they develop a “immersive” (VR) game there are other platforms they can target for revenue like the Quest, PSVR, Pico etc. especially if they’re using Unity.

        • Dragon Marble

          So potentially this amazing headset would end up being chronically plagued by “cheap ports” and never get to realize its full potential.

          To me, that is a big hole in the theory of “making it desirable before making it affordable”. It may not work for a hardware that is worthless without a content ecosystem, which, in turn, needs a certain critical mass to survive.

          • Julien

            What would qualify to you as “cheap ports”? The headset is basically an iPad using your environment as a canvas. Would you say that iPad apps are “cheap ports” of iPhone or Mac apps? Have you seen the demo reel of Disney’s vision for that headset?

          • Dragon Marble

            The headset is so much more than “an iPad” that has many floating, virtual screens. But that’s 75% of what they have shown, and remaining 25% are just concept demos.

          • Julien

            I said an iPad more in terms of processing power (same M2 processor) and default app compatibility (iPad apps are just a few tweaks away from being native to Vision Pro). I know that there’s so much more than any developer can do with that new platform using development kits that Apple has introduced and slowly refining for years now on iPhone and iPad…
            Concept demos are just a small tease of what’s possible on the platform the rest is up to the imagination of the devs.

          • Dragon Marble

            Then we go back to square one: who’s going to turn those concept demos into real apps if there aren’t enough people to buy those apps for the devs to make a profit? We are not talking about porting existing 2D apps anymore. Developing true AR apps from the ground up costs money.

          • Julien

            There are already AR apps on the App Store (and I’m not just talking about Pokémon Go). It’s not anything new for the Apple ecosystem. They’ve been carefully planning and teasing openly their interest for AR since at least 2017 so some devs are already familiar with Apple’s AR SDKs.
            The rest is a leap of faith from deep pocketed developers to trust Apple and their marketing department to make the Vision Pro a success I guess. Or Apple could finance themselves the development of some of those third party AR apps. Finding money isn’t such a problem for them.
            I guess we’ll know closer to release what devs have been cooking for that headset.

          • STL

            I don’t need to read my email or whatsapp on AVP. I want ultra-immersive games. Everything else comes second.

          • Julien

            If that’s what you want out of a headset then the AVP is not for you.

          • STL

            But for whom is it?

          • Julien

            This first version will probably appeal to the usual tech early adopters and people in some industries that already extensively use the augmented reality capabilities of the iPhone/iPad for their workflow. The hands free aspect would be a plus for them.
            We’ll also know soon what kind of software devs have made for the device when it’s released. If people see interesting things then the device will sell itself.

          • STL

            Well, I have to admit that hands-free aspect didn’t cross my mind at all! For heavy users, that could be a plus. Still, I wouldn’t consider it a real killer application and I’m missing that real killer application thing.

          • Julien

            I don’t think there will be a real “killer application” for it. It’ll mostly be a series of small convenience for some users. To each their own.

            If I take myself and the iPad: I personally don’t see the attractiveness of it vs my MacBook. But for some artists and creatives it has become their main money making pro tool.

            Some tech reviewers didn’t get the point of the pencil hover feature Apple introduced in the iPad Pro with M2 but some artists consider it as game changing and would make them get rid of their Wacom and other similar device.
            It’s all a question of perspective.

            I think the same applies to the Vision Pro. We might not completely see the point as of now but down the line it’ll probably make sense depending on your workflow and what we want of such a device will be clearer.
            It’s also just Apple’s first iteration of a new product for them: it’ll get better, lighter and hopefully cheaper over time.

          • ViRGiN

            i do expect it to be cool looking, hands free ipad basically.

  • Octogod

    Ben’s valuable, nuanced insights are the reason I’ve loved this site for years. Excellent overview.

    It’s shocking to me to hear the Quest 2 is more comfortable. Wonder about the Quest 3…

  • dt

    Can it be clarified that the “volumetric video” that was demonstrated is actually 6DOF video that you can lean around and see parallax? That’s different than 3D video (180 or 360)

    • Dragon Marble

      Not “volumetric”. You can lean a little bit. iPhone can take that kind of photos.

  • Jack White

    Only virgins that seek validation will get this

  • gothicvillas

    Im trying to think who is their target audience for this device.. To me this looks like glorified movie watcher. All of the apps shown are just easier to use on their phones (browsing, facetime etc).
    One thing will be to sell device , and second problem will be the retention. I just dont see people walking around their homes with the headset on. Not gonna happen.

    • Julien

      Doctors, 3D modeling artists, architects, anyone who works with 3D models of any kind could use this and plenty more.

      >I just dont see people walking around their homes with the headset on. Not gonna happen

      Don’t assume to know how 8 billions people live their lives.

  • Great “first look” Ben. So many questions about the hardware RAM, SSD type and storage, camera resolutions (and can you access it via visionOS)as well as the volumetric models storage and manipulation. Is it iOS or MacOS (I lean heavily to iOS).

    Here’s my take on the price. If you want to do great stereo 180s, you will shell out at least $5K for the Canon EOS5 (EOS5c +_$1K) and the dual fisheye lens. I am pretty sure this is what was used to create those 180s Ben talked about, but what if you do this yourself while wearing the AVP and the viewfinder is something out of an Iron Man movie. Add in computational photography/videography for depth and other effects and the AVP doesn’t sound so bad at $3495.00. Plus you don’t need a Mac (or PC) to edit, render and distribute the files OR VR HMD to view them. Now $3495 sound downright cheap if you think about it.

  • Michael Lupton

    I look forward to the Alien Vs Predator headset!

    • silvaring

      Its a pity about the name, now AVP is going to lose a hell of a lot of IP traffic.

  • mangofett5680

    doesn’t do VR gaming… more like RoadToVR didn’t watch the WWDC talks and see that it DOES do VR gaming. How about Apple showing controller support and showing Apple Arcade games work on day 1? so doesn’t do gaming? how could a writer be so clueless or have a clickbait article…

  • Jim Foulk

    It’s weird to claim it’s not for gaming. Are you making that claim just because Apple didn’t demo that aspect? The event was just designed to get the general public and developers interested, not reveal every aspect of the device. There will be 100 games available on launch day, and that’s just from Apple. This will be a great gaming device

  • Gabriel Cash

    This looks like Google Glass 2.0 to me. My concern is if it fails, it will be used by the media to push the “VR is dead” narrative.

  • TanK

    I think you may be misjudging the market significantly. Enterprise, development, and collaboration are the key market for this type of AR headset, not gaming. And I would venture a guess that overall market for VR at this point is skewed more towards enterprise use. I only know of a handful of people that bought an oculus for the gimmick value last holiday season, but quickly stopped using it. However, the use within my industry and related industries, of VR/AR as a tool has exploded in popularity. There might be more volume of sales for an inexpensive gaming headset, but actual use is more likely the higher end that enables next gen collaboration and productivity – ie MS HoloLens and now AVP.

  • STL

    AVP will be a flop without any doubt. No gaming, no deal. Apple will suffer greatly from this product.

    • Julien

      Not it probably won’t but it’s also not made to sell as much as the Quest or the iPhone. Not being a gaming device first never stopped the Mac to be a successful product. It won’t stop the AVP to be successful either.

      • STL

        Working with computers since 35 years, I don‘t see even one use case.

        • Julien

          That you don’t see a use case for yourself doesn’t mean that no one will ever.

          • STL

            Certainly. But I will shuffle my portfolio and deinvest in Apple.