Apple reveal augmented reality headset described as ‘most advanced device ever’
The company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) began with a keynote from Apple Park in California led by CEO Tim Cook, who described the company’s new $3,499 (£2,800) Vision Pro headset as “revolutionary”.
The device combines virtual reality and augmented reality, with Apple claiming it heralds a “new era of spatial computing”.
The world’s most valuable company also used the keynote to unveil a major overhaul of its Mac lineup, as updates for its other platforms. This year, that meant the release of iOS 17 for iPhones, WatchOS 10 for Apple Watch, and a new iPadOS.
The Vision Pro also came with its own software, called VisionOS, which supports many of the same apps found on iPhones.
You can read how it unfolded here, as well as follow all the latest updates from our on-the-ground coverage of WWDC 2023.
Did Apple quietly launch a brain-computer-interface?
One feature of Apple’s Vision Pro headset that appears to have been overlooked is that it appears to be the tech giant’s first venture into brain-computer-interface technology, offering a rudimentary ways to read a wearer’s mind.
One of its designers, neurotechnology specialist Sterling Crispin, tweeted that it could predict when “a user was going to click on something before they actually did.”
He explained: “Your pupil reacts before you click in part because you expect something will happen after you click. So you can create biofeedback with a user’s brain by monitoring their eye behavior, and redesigning the UI in real time to create more of this anticipatory pupil response. It’s a crude brain computer interface via the eyes, but very cool. And I’d take that over invasive brain surgery any day.”
That last comment is a reference to Elon Musk’s Neuralink startup, which just received FDA approval to impant its brain chip into humans.
Will the Vision Pro be the next iPhone?
Apple was not first to the smartwatch, nor was it first to the tablet or even the smartphone. But each of its devices have gone on to be market-leading products.
This is due to Apple’s long-standing goal of striving to be the best, not the first.
Speaking in 2016, CEO Tim Cook said: “It doesn’t bother us that we are second, third, fourth or fifth if we still have the best. We don’t feel embarrassed because it took us longer to get it right... Our North Star is making the best products that really enrich people’s lives, and if we can’t do those, we pass.”
In terms of universal functionality, Apple’s Vision Pro already seems to be the best, however there is one big difference between it and the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch: the price.
You can read all about the astronomical pricetag and what that means for Apple and its rivals here.
How Meta’s headset compares to Apple’s Vision Pro
The unveiling of the Vision Pro comes just days after Meta unveiled its Quest 3 VR headset - to much less fanfare.
Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg is all-in on the technology, having changed his company’s name from Facebook to Meta in order to reflect the shift in focus towards VR and the metaverse. He has also spent tens of billions of dollars in trying to make it a commercial success.
Unfortunately for Zuckerberg, none of his company’s devices look like they come anywhere close to the capabilities of the Vision Pro, with the only positives for Meta being the price - Apple’s headset is significantly more expensive - and the fact that another major tech player has entered the space, which will drive both interest and innovation in VR and metaverse applications.
Apple Vision Pro ‘disturbingly inhuman'
Apple’s impressive unveiling of a new era of “spatial computing” with the Vision Pro headset has been hailed as an industry gamechanger, however one of the demonstrations during yesterday’s keynote has left some feeling concerned about what it may mean for the future of personal relationships.
A video clip of a man playing with his children while wearing the headset, and another showing him checking his emails while his child calls for him, has been widely shared on social media.
“Nothing says innovation like a hologram of emails blocking a father from looking at his child,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another added: “Wow Apple... You don’t see how dystopian it is for a father to stare at his child through a piece of machinery on his face. Do you not see how disturbingly inhuman this ad is?”
How Apple Vision Pro's price compares to other headsets
While Apple’s Vision Pro is dubbed a mixed reality headset, social media users where quick to compare the new product with other similar devices in the market, including Meta’s VR headsets.
At its current starting price of $3500, the Vision Pro device costs more than 10 times that the Meta Quest 2 which is priced at $299 and has 128 GB of memory.
HTC’s Vive Pro 2 is now at $1209 while Sony’s Playstation VR2 costs $550.
The Meta Quest Pro, in comparison, costs $999 currently with the Facebook parent company expected to launch Quest 3 in the fall of 2023 for a starting price of $499.
While Meta has opted for the term virtual reality (VR), Apple has gone for augmented reality (AR).
Apple has also notably refrained from using the term “metaverse” in describing the environment it seeks to build with the new device, and instead opted for the phrase “spatial computing.”
Apple announces new physical, mental health features across its devices
At the WWDC 2023 keynote, Apple announced new health and wellness features across iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.
The tech giant announced its first-ever localised journaling app for users to chronicle their day-to-day life with the help of prompts and cues from other device use, including messaging, music listening, and exercise stats.
Apple also announced a new iOS17 Health app for iPad that brings all data in one place.
It monitors multi-device activity, helps track medications, and view interactive charts, making “your health data come to life,” according to the company.
Update adds journaling tools, new ‘StandBy’ mode aimed at making the iPhone more useful more of the time, and tweaks to apps such as Messages and the phone app
A new feature announced yesterday also lets users log their daily emotions and moods on Apple Watch, choosing how they feel from “Very Pleasant” to “Very Unpleasant,” and explain their feelings further.
The feature also enables users to take standardised mental health assessments.
Apple also announced that it is launching new features to care for users’ vision health, including one to track how much time users spend in daylight each day.
Apple introduces new biometric authentication system
With the launch of its new mixed reality headset, Apple has introduced “Optic ID” its latest biometric security authentication technology.
This would be the tech giant’s first such authentication system for a consumer device that would be based on the details of users’ irises.
Optic ID works by analysing a user’s iris via LED light exposure, the company said at the developers event.
The obtained data from this light exposure is then compared with an Optic ID stored on the device’s Secure Enclave.
Unlike the Face ID detection system used in iPhones, the new Optic ID can even detect iris differences between identical twins, Apple said. More on other features of the new headset here:
Headset marks a shift towards ‘spatial computing’, says CEO Tim Cook
Over 100 games to be available on Vision Pro
More than a hundred Apple Arcade games will be available on the Vision Pro mixed reality headset, the tech giant announced yesterday at the developers conference.
With its immersive audio and support for popular game controllers, the headset could make new types of games possible bringing new worlds to gamers.
While Apple didn’t highlight any specific VR games, people can play titles like NBA 2K23 on a screen that ‘feels 100 feet wide.’
Disney partners with Apple over new Vision Pro headset
Disney’s chief Bob Iger announced yesterday that the company is starting a partnership with Apple on its new mixed-reality headset.
Mr Iger said Disney+ content would be available on the VR platform “from day one.”
“We’re constantly in search of new ways to entertain, inform, and inspire our fans by combining extraordinary creativity with groundbreaking technology to create truly remarkable experiences,” the Disney chief said, according to Insider.
“We believe Apple Vision Pro is a revolutionary platform that can make our vision a reality,” he said, adding that the new device could bring Disney fans “closer to the characters they love.”
iPhone's autocorrect to stop changing common expletive to 'ducking'
One of the most noted announcements at Apple’s developers event was that iPhone’s autocorrect feature would now refrain from correcting one of the most common expletives to “ducking.”
“In those moments where you just want to type a ducking word, well, the keyboard will learn it, too,” Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi said.
The “ducking” substitution has long been a source of annoyance for many users who’ve had to rewrite texts – particularly when they may already be wanting to express a degree of frustration.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies