Apple’s Vision Pro: is the VR future finally here?

The ‘mixed reality’ headset could redefine how we use personal devices

Apple Vision Pro
The new Apple Vision Pro headset costs $3,499 (£2,800)
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Apple unveiled its long-awaited “mixed reality” headset, the Vision Pro, in what some experts are saying could be the most significant product released by the company since the iPhone.

Unveiling the Vision Pro yesterday at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook touted the product as the “most advanced personal electronic device ever”.

Priced at $3,499 (£2,800), the Vision Pro aims to revolutionise how we use personal electronics by seamlessly blending augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) capabilities into a single, immersive experience.

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Augmented reality revolution…

The arrival of the headset means that Apple has “finally sprung its long-awaited cannonball into the augmented reality space”, said Morning Brew, “and it could revolutionize the industry – or flop hard”.

While some believe the Vision Pro has the potential to become “the iPhone of mixed-reality headsets” – reaching ubiquity in the personal device landscape – “others aren’t so sure, considering how existing competitors have done so far”, added the newsletter.

The device “resembles a futuristic set of ski goggles”, said Axios, and “allows users to view digital content on top of the real world and is controlled using voice, eye gaze and hand gestures”. The intended effect, in the words of Cook, is that “your surroundings become an infinite canvas”.

Apple has “done it again”, said the Financial Times (FT). The Vision Pro “takes all the major computing trends of the past two decades, places them around your eyes in a way that looks sleek and feels comfortable”, as well as offering an “intuitive interface that is novel and intimate”.

But perhaps the headset’s biggest achievement is in demonstrating that AR/VR is not the technology of a distant future but, thanks to Apple, is “here and now”.

From iPhones to AirPods, “every successful Apple product of the past two decades has disappeared into our lives in some way”, said Wired. The Vision Pro will not only “call into question what it means to compute, but also, what it means to live in the real world”.

… or commercial flop?

But Cook is certainly taking a “gamble” with the £2,800 device, and Apple will have to work hard to “convince users to pay a premium to put something on their face to watch films, work and communicate”, said The Times. The paper noted that competitor Meta has “tried to turn towards virtual reality but has thus far failed to convert its Quest headsets into mass consumer devices”.

While impressive, the Vision Pro could prove to be one of Apple’s “lowest-selling” products yet, said The Economist. Analysts are now predicting shipments of fewer than 200,000 units in the first year, far below the company’s initial target of 3 million units.

That’s because its price point is significantly higher than its competitors’, with a clunky external battery that lasts only two hours. But although the first iteration of the Vision Pro risks being a “commercial flop” it is also “the first step” on the way to something that Apple hopes will be “much bigger”.

And it’s hardly unusual for Apple products to “take time to take off”, added the newspaper. Even the original iPhone didn’t really succeed until its fourth generation iteration in 2010, “by which time the App Store was populated with thousands of apps that made people realise what the phone could do”.

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 Sorcha Bradley is a writer at The Week and a regular on “The Week Unwrapped” podcast. She worked at The Week magazine for a year and a half before taking up her current role with the digital team, where she mostly covers UK current affairs and politics. Before joining The Week, Sorcha worked at slow-news start-up Tortoise Media. She has also written for Sky News, The Sunday Times, the London Evening Standard and Grazia magazine, among other publications. She has a master’s in newspaper journalism from City, University of London, where she specialised in political journalism.