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Our First Thoughts on Apple’s new Vision Pro

The new Apple Vision Pro Headset on a dark techy background

In this blog, we give our initial thoughts on Apple’s Vision Pro, their long-awaited foray into immersive technologies, which has finally launched!   Naturally, any new Apple hardware is going to cause excitement across the tech industry and among consumers, especially when it’s the first of its generation.  That this is a VR headset (though Apple are trying to move away from the term ‘VR headset’, that is what the Vision Pro is) makes this launch all the more interesting for us at Mersus Technologies.  

Of course, this device is not available in Europe yet, so we are basing this blog on what other reviewers who have got their hands on one have said about it.   

So, does it live up to the hype?  

The Good:

Stunning Display: Reviewers are consistently wowed by the display. The high-resolution micro-OLED displays offer vibrant colours, deep blacks, and a good field of view.  Reviewers report feeling like they are inside their favourite movies.  It is not possible to show how good the display is without getting the headset on, but it looks like this is easily the best visual experience in any AR/VR headset yet.

Seamless Apple Integration: Most of the current Apple ecosystem is compatible with the Vision Pro, allowing it to become a natural extension of Apply fans’ other devices. FaceTime calls in virtual reality are surprisingly natural and features like hand tracking and spatial audio are well-implemented.

Comfortable Design: The Vision Pro is relatively lightweight and comfortable to wear, even for extended periods.  We’ve heard of reviewers wearing it all day, which seems excessive, but it’s good to know it’s possible! The headset features Apple’s typical stylish design, and the use of premium materials like glass and machined aluminium gives it a sleek and futuristic look.   The headset comes with an additional, optional strap that goes across the top of the head.   This impacts on the device’s stylishness somewhat, but it is a good addition for anyone wishing to use the headset for extended periods of time.  

Passthrough Technology: Unlike fully immersive VR headsets, the Vision Pro’s passthrough technology allows you to see the real world around you overlaid with digital information. This opens up interesting possibilities for mixed reality applications.

Personas – these are realistic avatars, which are generated by the headset itself, that the user can use for, for example, Facetime calls.   It might be slightly controversial to include these under the “Good” heading – a lot of people are saying their Persona looks a bit odd, and that the hair doesn’t behave in a realistic way.  But there is no doubt that the Vision Pro’s Personas are a very impressive leap forward in avatar development.  A realistic looking, reasonably-natural representation of the user can be generated very quickly and easily using the headset to take a few captures of the face using different expressions.  It seems pretty safe to assume that these Personas will become more natural looking – and include moving hair – in the near future!

The Not-So-Good:

Limited App Diversity: At launch, the VisionOS app selection is sparse. While there are some impressive experiences like spatialised videos and educational apps, the lack of diverse content is a drawback. There are fewer still, apps that are actually utilising the headsets features and potential – many ipad and ios apps are available in the headset but, currently, very few have any features utilising the mixed reality aspects of the headset.

Pricey Proposition: The Vision Pro comes with a hefty price tag, making it inaccessible to many potential users. This exclusivity limits its impact and hinders the development of a robust app ecosystem.

Software Limitations: While VisionOS is intriguing, it still feels like a work in progress. Features like multitasking and window management need refinement for a truly seamless workflow.

Limited Field of View: While the field of view is decent, it feels slightly restrictive compared to some competitors. This can be noticeable when trying to multitask or experience immersive content.

External battery.  It is an unfortunately awkward workaround that the Vision Pro comes with an external battery.  This was deliberately left out of Apple’s promotional material.  Although, to be fair most reviewers don’t seem to regard this as a major problem.  

The Verdict:

The Apple Vision Pro is a technically impressive device with the potential to reshape how we interact with technology. However, its high price, limited app selection, and software quirks hold it back from being a must-have for everyone. Although, on the point of the high price, it is highly likely that Apple are planning on releasing a lower spec, more cost-effective option for regular customers.  If you’re an Apple enthusiast with money to burn and an early adopter mindset, the Vision Pro is worth exploring. But for most users, it’s best to wait and see how the technology evolves before taking the plunge. 

For us in the immersive technology industry, the arrival of this device is intriguing and welcome.   It is great to see another big player launch a standalone headset after the domination of Meta.  The Vision Pro so far is attempting to meet another market than the Quest – that of early adopters and developers, whereas the Quest still remains more accessible to most everyday users.    There is no doubt that Apple have made a big push forward with what’s possible with the technology and this will certainly raise awareness of immersive technology’s potential in various fields.  It will be fascinating to see what developers will do utilising the Vision Pro, and how these ideas will shape the near future of immersive technology.