Apple meets the AR moment

Apple unveiled its long-awaited augmented reality (AR) headset at its Worldwide Developer’s Conference yesterday—the Vision Pro—a sleek pair of goggles with a battery pack that looks like something a cyberpunk hacker would wear while hitting the slopes. 

Driving the news: Apple claimed that Vision Pro is "the most advanced personal electronics device ever," positioning it as a computer, TV, camera, surround-sound system and more, all in one.

  • Vision Pro uses both screens displaying apps and external cameras capturing high-quality images of the real world, with a dial that lets users toggle between full immersion and an experience that overlays virtual objects atop their surroundings. 
  • And it’s all done without a hardware controller, usable simply through eye movement, hand gestures, and voice thanks to an array of cameras and eye-tracking sensors.  

Why it matters: Apple’s entrance into the VR fray is a do-or-die moment for the metaverse. With AR headset sales tapering off substantially and Meta’s Horizon Worlds game unable to maintain users, Apple may be the industry’s best (final?) hope to make the metaverse work.

  • “[Apple’s entrance] is the single greatest thing that could happen to this industry,” the CEO of one AR platform told The Verge, “whether you make hardware or software.”

From making MP3 players must-haves to mastering the wearables market, Apple has a long history of transforming the nerdiest of nerdy tech into mainstream status symbols. If it can’t make strapping on a headset cool, no company can.

What’s next: The first headsets will ship early next year, but with a US$3,499 price tag, the Vision Pro isn’t exactly an everyday consumer product yet. Once the still-in-development lower-priced model goes up for sale, we’ll be able to tell if Apple has done it again.—QH