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The value of a head start

Apple Vision Pro may appear like a gadget out of a dystopian novel but it has the potential to be a part of our reality very soon

Mathures Paul | Published 11.06.23, 06:35 AM
Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed Apple Vision Pro at WWDC23.

Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed Apple Vision Pro at WWDC23.

Picture: Apple

In 2015, there was the news that Apple had dropped its plans to make a television, though the company never officially spoke about making one. A few days ago, Apple unveiled a gadget it considers to have immense potential in the future — Apple Vision Pro, which is a spatial computer that had been in the works for six years. Did Apple really give up on television? No, it is that “one more feature” on the new spatial computer.

There are a few things to remember about the new device. Apple is not calling it a VR set because it’s not. There is no reason to get into Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse. In fact, this is antimetaverse. One can call it a canvas for all kinds of apps working beyond the boundaries of a traditional display. The defining product of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s reign has 12 cameras, six microphones, and five sensors. It is powered by a new appbased platform called visionOS and there is a screen that has no parallel. Of course, you may say why pay $3,500 for what appears to be a computer for the face? Do we need this at all? Hasn’t Mark Zuckerberg been trying to create something like this and failed (so far)?



The biggest distinguishing feature is the ability to experience the digital in reality. This is not virtual reality where you leave your surroundings. Here, the digital world comes to the real world through what Apple calls “spatial computing”.

The company seems to have successfully dealt with a problem that Steve Jobs discussed with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher in 2005. He said: “The fundamental problem here is that headphones are a miraculous thing. You put on a pair of headphones and you get the same experience you get with a great pair of speakers. There’s no such thing as headphones for video. There’s nothing that I could carry with me that I could put on and it gives me the same experience I get when I am watching my 50-inch plasma display at home. Until somebody invents that you’re going to have these opposing constraints.”

Apple has done something with the screen that separates it from the headset experience offered by Meta, Magic Leap, Sony and others. To get into the tech weeds, the micro-OLED displays on the headset shows pixels that are only 7.5 micrometers in size and 23 million pixels are packed into the two displays, each the size of a postage stamp. AR/VR engineers look at pixel density in terms of pixels per degree of vision (PPD), which gives a headset’s field of view (FOV). Apple hasn’t talked about its device’s FOV but going by experience reports, it’s very high to the point that users won’t see a gap between pixels.

There is always a chance to underestimate any new technology. By the time the Apple Watch launched in 2015, there were other smartwatches but Apple worked on the ugly aesthetics of existing smartwatches and came up with something unique. There are headsets in the market but these don’t have an ecosystem to work within, but Apple does. The Vision Pro is part of an ecosystem of products and it will also work together with other Apple products at some level. The moment you turn on the headset, you have access to your iPhone contacts, iMessages and whatnot. Remember, the Vision Pro is not dependent on the iPhone or the MacBook but all the apps can be experienced.

Take another look at the Apple Watch. It came at a time when people frowned upon looking at the watch at the dinner table. Now that many are wearing the Apple Watch, nobody thinks it’s inappropriate to glance at the Watch; it’s better than bringing out the phone. Mass adoption of the technology managed to tackle a social taboo.

Of course, nobody will wear the Vision Pro to a dinner party but as more and more colleagues begin joining meetings from their headset, as more and more people begin to consume content on the headset, and as more and more people are seen wearing this during long plane journeys, adoption will increase. Apple will only put this in public space early next year in the US and then in the other markets. So we are looking at a time frame of four-five years for the adoption of the new technology.


Mark Zuckerberg went to the extent of renaming his company Meta Platforms because he thought metaverse would be the next big thing. Perhaps it will, but in the distant future and one in which it needs to be more than just avatars interacting. He apparently told Meta employees in a companywide meeting: “There’s a real philosophical difference in terms of rights to both the US’s Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball, and the ESPN-owning Disney has been declared a major partner in the Vision Pro’s launch, the future of entertainment will change dramatically.

The success of Vision Pro will largely depend on Apple’s relationship with developers. Given the success of iOS, iPadOS and watchOS, it appears developers will be behind Tim Cook and his team. Pricing? It will come down. After all, this is called Apple Vision Pro, meaning there is a chance of having Vision Air, Vision and Vision Ultra. Largely, all the demo experiences for US journalists have been positive.

Tim Cook believes the new technology is not isolating. “This is not about isolation; this is about connection. This is about having people there that feel like they’re there with you,” he has told Good Morning America. Before we experienced the TV, it sounded absurd. The same goes for CDs and streaming. Once experienced, Apple Vision Pro wouldperhaps not appear as absurd as it sounds.

Last updated on 11.06.23, 06:35 AM

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