As we inch closer to the much-anticipated launch of the Apple Vision Pro, news surrounding the headset is growing. Although it barely feels like two minutes since Apple formally announced the Vision Pro last year, we are now only a few days away.
In an announcement timed ahead of this year’s CES, an event that Apple was not attending, the tech giants ensured news of their new XR headset has dominated industry news, overshadowing some of the excitement around other companies’ projects.
So, what has the world recently discovered about the Apple Vision Pro?
Let’s delve into an exciting week of Apple-related news and learn when to expect the Vision Pro.
When Will Apple Vision Pro Launch?
As many in the tech industry were bracing themselves to learn what some of the leading XR and VR developers had been working on recently, Apple gave us a date for the Vision Pro launch.
Previous announcements had stated the headset would launch in early 2024, but Apple used the Monday before the CES to announce that the Apple Vision Pro would launch on February 2, 2024.
Unfortunately, the headset won’t launch worldwide in February. The initial launch will apply to the US market only. Other international markets, including the UK, will follow later this year.
How Many Apple Vision Pro Headsets Will Be Available At Launch?
According to a leading supply chain analyst, Ming-Cho Kuo, Apple is reportedly set to have somewhere between 60,000- 80,000 Vision Pros ready for the impending US release.
With less than 100,000 units available for launch, the limited production volumes could be the reason for the US-only release.
Kuo has reported on Apple’s supply chain for around a decade and is a reliable source. To give an example of average headset production volumes, back in October, Kuo reported that Meta would produce 2.5 million Quest 3s before the end of 2023.
Part of Apple’s problem may stem from the complexity of the design. Many of the headset’s components are packed tightly beneath the curved glass front. This is a challenge for the factory workers assembling the headsets. But their difficulties are unsurprising, given that Apple had to change its original manufacturer back in 2022 for the very same reason. This switch took place four years into the preparation process.
Another issue Apple faces with what has become regarded as the company’s “most complicated device” is the near-4K OLED microdisplays. Manufactured by Sony, there are serious production constraints, with production quantities limited to 900,000 per year. And, because each Vision Pro uses two displays, the maximum number of headsets which can ship each year is limited to less than half a million.
To make matters worse, Apple is also reportedly unhappy with the number of microdisplays Sony has made which are free of defects. It is estimated that the cost of the microdisplays needed for each unit runs to $700.
Apple is in talks with another OLED microdisplay supplier. That said, it could take a while for any new manufacturer to produce large volumes of displays, and given the combination of production challenges, the new headset will be scarce for some time.
Apple Bans Developers From Using Terms Like XR, VR, MR, and AR
It’s clear to the world that the Apple Vision Pro is a mixed-reality headset. However, Apple is keen to promote its own language surrounding the technology. The company describes the Vision Pro as a “Spatial Computer” rather than an AR or XR headset.
In communications to developers, Apple insists that acronyms like AR, VR, XR, and VR are not to be used when describing their apps to the App Store. Instead, app developers are to use the term “spatial”.
But it doesn’t end there.
Apple does not want developers describing the Vision Pro as a “headset”. And although VR is a long-established term, Apple would like to use the term “fully immersive” in its place.
Apple’s rules may mean developers porting over popular apps which have enjoyed success on platforms like the Quest may need to drop “VR” from game titles and add “spatial” instead.
How about “Resident Evil 4 Spatial?”
Which Games Are Confirmed for the Apple Vision Pro?
Although the $3,500 headset isn’t primarily a gaming machine, when the Vision Pro launches, users will want to enjoy the “spatial” gaming experience Apple has been selling the headset on.
At the moment, only a few games have been confirmed. Here are the games which have already been announced.
Demeo is a very popular virtual board game on the Meta Quest, which is a turn-based co-op for up to four players. The Vision Pro version can be played in mixed reality or fully immersive VR.
So far, we don’t know much about Game Room. The app was shown when the headset was revealed and is listed as a launch game. It’s believed it will include games like cards and chess.
Previously available on the Pico and Quest, this is a retro basketball game with mixed reality.
Mindway is a well-being app that includes meditation, ASMR, and mindfulness, all with an interactive focus.
This social experience app is already available on several VR and traditional platforms. Currently, the Vision Pro version will only support controller inputs, however, hand-tracking controllers are in development.
Super Fruit Ninja
Seen at the WWDC conference last year, Apple has indicated that Super Fruit Ninja will launch alongside the Vision Pro. Like previous Fruit Ninja games, there’ll be lots of fruit-slicing fun.
What the Golf
Previously available on mobile, PC, and Switch, What the Golf is a parody game that transforms the space around players.
App developers working on Vision Pro games have had access to Apple’s SDK and VisionOS simulator for testing since June. It’s likely that with just a few month’s notice, many developers are rushing to get their apps out as soon after the launch date as possible. Or, with Apple’s language guidelines, many will be hurriedly rebranding their content to meet the new requirements.
Chinese Vision Pro Copy Hits the Market
With the Apple Vision Pro not yet on the market, you may be surprised to learn that there’s already a knock-off product available.
Produced by Chinese startup, EmdoorVR, you can buy the AX162 from Aliexpress for as little as $500. This price may drop even more if the headset is officially launched internationally.
The overall design of the headset is clearly based on the Vision Pro’s aesthetic, probably to ride on the coattails of Apple’s popularity. But the features and tech beneath the surface are nowhere near the same as those promised by the Vision Pro.
Much of the hype around the Vision Pro is on the 4K OLED microdisplays, pancake lenses, and passthrough. The AX162 has fresnel lenses, a single LCD panel, and a resolution of 1884×1920 per eye. This places the AX162 in last-generation Quest territory.
Other ways the AX162 falls down include the use of the Snapdragon XR1 chip, which is less powerful than the Oculus Go, which was launched six years ago. And, with a lack of 6DoF positional tracking, the overall experience isn’t likely to be great.
So, with the looks of the Apple Vision Pro, the price tag of a Quest, and technology that belongs in 2018, it’s unlikely that Apple is particularly worried about competition from this device.
Apple Vision Pro Will Need Face ID Scan On iPad or iPhone When Online Ordering
If you’re not an iPhone or iPad user but plan to buy a Vision Pro from the online store when it is finally available, you may hit a snag.
In the recent launch date announcement, Apple confirmed that US customers can pick up a Vision Pro from Apple Stores and their web store.
But since this announcement, Apple has indicated that customers will need to use an iPad Pro or iPhone if they plan to purchase their headset online.
This is because Apple will use a Face ID scan to determine which size light seal and headbands you’ll need. Various sizes and shapes of light seals and headbands will be available.
Last June, Mark Gurman from Bloomberg shared information about the Vision Pro he’d gathered. This included reports from testers that the Vision Pro was heavy, making it uncomfortable for prolonged use.
Recently, Apple announced the Vision Pro will ship with an alternative head strap with a top strap. This could improve the comfort issues reported by the early testers.
If you’re in the United States, you can preorder your headset from Friday, the 19th of January.
Apple Says “Get Ready”
With Apple now advertising the Vision Pro with a call for viewers to “get ready”, many people will excitedly rush to buy their new “spatial computer” when it launches. Over the next few weeks, lots of news will likely arise around the launch; we’ll keep you posted on everything you need to know.