Apple announced its long-rumored, long-awaited virtual and augmented reality headset today, the Apple Vision Pro. On the one hand, it’s always exciting when Apple announces something new, as they do have a history of revolutionizing different markets. On the other hand, this looks like it might not quite hit the target, and we’re pretty skeptical. Could this be Apple’s first big faceplant in years?
There’s a lot of good stuff in Apple’s announcement; they have clearly put a lot of thought into the tech behind the Vision Pro, and no one is doubting that they’ve polished up the VR experience. The headset can be controlled via hand gestures and eye movements, there’s a slew of supported apps, and Apple is envisioning a world where a VR headset expands your desktop to your entire environment.
All this sounds AMAZING, even if the starting price of $3,499 is jaw-dropping. But once you get past the initial flash of “OMG SHINY,” there are a lot of questions that arise…
First and foremost, the problem Apple is going to face is that VR is very much a solution in search of a problem. It’s a cool concept for very specific circumstances, but it’s not really something that’s filling a void in people’s lives.
Full disclosure, obviously, I’ve never used Apple’s version, but I do have an Oculus Quest 2. It’s a ton of fun for specific games and even for a few workout apps, but it’s not something I reach for or that I get excited about using regularly.
I can see how this would be awesome for working from home when using multiple apps, but if you’ve ever been in a room with someone who was using a virtual reality headset, you can attest to a different issue: it’s incredibly anti-social and boring to watch someone else play VR.
And if I’m alone in my house, I’d much rather use my large TV and speaker bar to play video games.
Would Vision Pro be great on a trip? Sure, but don’t stray too far from the charger with a projected couple of hours of battery life.
The other elephant in the room is the cost.
The Apple Vision Pro is incredibly expensive for what it is.
Yes, they’ve packed a ton of sensors and technology into it, but is it really worth 7x the Meta Quest 3, 3.5x the Meta Quest Pro, or 2x the HTC Vive?
The problem is that this could be the nicest, best-designed virtual reality headset ever made … but it still isn’t cracking WHY a virtual reality headset is worth that cost.
Apple also buried the worst news way down in a footnote on the Vision Pro website.
If you wear glasses, you’ll need an ADDITIONAL prescription lens setup for your Vision Pro. Other VR headsets will use inserts to accommodate glasses and VR, but Apple requires its own prescription lenses.
They’ll be made by Zeiss and will magnetically attach to the Vision Pro, but there’s no word on the cost. It does appear Zeiss lenses can be expensive — eyeglasses.com has Zeiss lenses alone, estimated at around $483.
It’s safe to assume prescription lenses aren’t going to be cheap, and it’s probably going to mean either knowing your prescription or making a trip to your ophthalmologist or optometrist — although the idea of the Genius Bar giving eye tests is quite amusing! Still, this is a major inconvenience.
Again, how often are you going to use virtual reality that you’re cool with spending what, conservatively, will probably cost at least $4,000 when it’s finally released in 2024? Who is the market for what is essentially 100% a niche luxury item?
Well…the internet has the answer, courtesy of cozywyatt on Twitter:
When you’re watching porn in public and nobody has a fucking clue pic.twitter.com/cIiJuUktZe
— cozywyatt (@cozywyatt) June 5, 2023
The Apple Vision Pro will start at $3,499 (USD); it will be available early next year on apple.com and at Apple Store locations in the U.S., with more countries coming later next year.
You can learn more about the Apple Vision Pro and sign up for updates by clicking here.