Apple announces new VR headset Vision Pro, launching next

Nabil Anas
Nabil Anas

Global Courant

“It’s the first Apple product that you look through, not at,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook as he introduced the Apple Vision Pro, the company’s new virtual reality headset that gives users an enhanced real-world experience. can lay.

Apple announced the VR headset Monday afternoon at its annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in Cupertino, California, where it also unveiled developments for many of its existing products and software.

The Apple Vision Pro is a wearable headset that creates an augmented reality experience for everything from work meetings and meditation to gaming and movies. Apple says it will be available in early 2024, with prices starting at $3,499 US, which equates to about $4,700 Cdn.

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While wearing the headset, users can browse by looking or using hand gestures, which Alan Dye, Apple’s vice president of human interface design, describes as “as subtle and natural as possible.”

Attendees watch presenters onstage during a new product presentation at the Apple campus on Monday, June 5, 2023 in Cupertino, California, where the company announced the Apple Vision Pro, the company’s new virtual reality headset due for release in 2024. launched. (Jeff Chiu/The Associated Press)

Apple hits home run

The Vision Pro marks Apple’s first major product launch since the Apple Watch in 2015. But it’s unclear how much demand for the headset is. An analysis by Bloomberg estimates that the product will bring the company $1.5 billion US ($2 billion Cdn) in sales, or 0.5 percent of the company’s revenue.

The expectation that Apple’s glasses will sell for several thousand dollars already seems to have dampened expectations for the product.

Dan Ives, managing director and analyst at US company Wedbush Securities, expects the company to sell just 150,000 units during the device’s first year on the market – a small speck in the company’s portfolio.

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By comparison, Apple sells more than 200 million iPhones a year. But the iPhone wasn’t an instant sensation, selling less than 12 million units in its first full year on the market.

Still, Ives sees the Vision Pro as a “revolutionary product” that will spur developers to create new, unique applications for special uses with the headset. Ives expects sales to increase to one million units in the product’s second year.

“I think Apple hit a home run,” Ives said. “I think in three, four years we’re looking ahead and (think of this as) a turning point for Apple.”

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Apple for the eyes

Apple’s announcement comes days after Meta announced its new virtual and mixed reality headset, Meta Quest 3, launching later this year. The Vision Pro introduces Apple as a new competitor in the virtual reality market.

“We’re on the cusp of this technology going mainstream,” said Tom Frencel, the CEO and co-founder of Toronto-based indie game development studio Little Guy Games.

Frencel admits that previous iterations of virtual reality technology haven’t lived up to the hype, but he says recent developments address many of the challenges that have held it back. For example, he points out that when VR headsets first came out, they were all heavy and tethered to computers – now models like the Meta Quest are much lighter while also having more powerful hardware.

“It will inevitably happen,” Frencel said, noting that he expects numerous technologies to “come together in VR,” including blockchain and the metaverse. “It’s just the next evolution of computers.”

People walk past an Oculus virtual reality headset on display at the Toronto office of Meta, Facebook’s parent company. Experts say Apple’s announcement about its VR headset is likely to create more competition and innovation, potentially opening the field for other big companies to enter the market. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

2 major players competing in the VR realm

“Now we have at least two big players, Apple and Meta, competing in the same domain,” said Paolo Granata, a University of Toronto professor and director of the Media Ethics Lab.

Granata, who has been experimenting with virtual reality technologies to promote experiential learning in his classes, says competition is likely to create more innovation, potentially opening the field for other big companies like Samsung or Sony to enter the market in the future .

At the current price point, Granata says the headset is inaccessible to many everyday consumers, but says it will likely become more affordable as it becomes more mainstream.

“It takes time to democratize technology,” said Granata. “In the meantime, it’s up to us to make sure this technology can really be built in an accessible, open way — and to see the potential… for a more connected society where no one is left behind.”

He says it’s also important to consider the technology’s unintended consequences, in this case the impact on user privacy and on industries like gaming and film.

“Streaming platforms or movie theaters might be concerned about… a VR headset with such a promising immersive movie experience,” he said. “The film industry is going to react – not just against this new technology, but probably in a creative way.”

New MacBook Air, iOS 17

Other new products introduced at WWDC include a 15-inch MacBook Air, the latest in Apple’s popular laptop line with a larger screen, a new six-speaker sound system and an advertised 18 hours of battery life, while keeping the weight still low. 1.49 kilograms. It will be available for $1,749 starting next Tuesday, June 13, 2023.

Apple also shared its new M2 Ultra processing chip, a 24-core processor that Apple says is both faster and memory-boosting compared to its predecessor, the M1 Ultra.

Company executives also shared important software updates. In particular, they shared key features in the upcoming iOS 17, which Apple says will improve autocorrect, and introduce a new standby mode that can display important information while the iPhone is charging.

Apple hasn’t made any major announcements about generative AI products similar to ChatGPT or Google’s Bard search engine, but it has quietly infused several smaller features with AI, such as live voicemail transcriptions.

Apple announces new VR headset Vision Pro, launching next

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