In an ambitious leap towards the future of computing, Apple is set to launch its most mysterious product in over a decade next year—the $3,500 Vision Pro. This self-contained mixed reality "spatial computer" headset is already generating a buzz, with a slew of compatible Apple products concurrently announced. However, the arrival of the Vision Pro raises a critical question for potential buyers: What does this new frontier mean for those considering a Vision Pro in the coming year?
Apple’s recent iPhone launch event unveiled two products, the iPhone 15 Pro and the AirPods Pro 2, which are designed to work seamlessly with the Vision Pro. The iPhone 15 Pro boasts the ability to capture spatial videos with its rear cameras, which can be viewed in 3D on the Vision Pro. Meanwhile, the AirPods Pro 2, despite bearing a striking resemblance to its predecessor, is the only Apple headset that can stream lossless spatial audio and work with the Vision Pro. However, these developments have sparked surprise and concern, especially among existing AirPods owners, who may feel left behind by the company’s latest technological advance.
Apple’s Vision Pro: A New Era of Spatial Computing Awaits
Apple’s latest product, the $3,500 Vision Pro, is a self-contained mixed reality "spatial computer" headset set to redefine our understanding of computing. Revealed in June, the Vision Pro is already amassing a family of compatible Apple products. However, this raises a significant question: what does it mean for consumers considering the Vision Pro next year?
The Vision Pro’s Complementary Devices
During Apple’s recent iPhone launch event, two products were unveiled with promised Vision Pro connections. The iPhone 15 Pro can capture spatial videos with its rear cameras, which produces 3D videos viewable on the Vision Pro. Additionally, the new AirPods Pro 2, which only differs from its predecessor by having a USB-C charging case, is the only Apple headset capable of streaming lossless spatial audio and pairing with the Vision Pro.
The announcement shocked many who anticipated future iPhones would introduce spatial video recording, but were surprised to learn the Vision Pro requires a completely new set of AirPods for high-end audio. This may leave existing AirPods owners feeling left behind.
Device Compatibility: Still A Mystery
The Vision Pro technically only connects directly with Macs, not iPhones or iPads. Apple has yet to demonstrate how the Vision Pro extends the Mac display or how it interacts with mouse or keyboard connections. While developers have started building Vision Pro apps, it’s still unclear if specific models of keyboards, mice, or Macs will be required to create a seamless connection.
The iPhone 15 Pro, with its rear lidar depth sensor, appears to be the optimal choice for those interested in Apple’s mixed reality technology. The lidar sensor, similar to the one in the Vision Pro, enhances the immersive AR experience on the iPhone. However, Apple has not announced any plans for the Vision Pro and iPhones to interact directly, leaving users to speculate.
What About Other Apple Devices?
The Apple Watch Series 9, with its new double-tap gesture, seems like a potential Vision Pro accessory. The watch’s gesture support, display, and haptic feedback could enhance the Vision Pro’s spatial computing platform. However, Apple has not announced any plans for this integration.
Similarly, the iPad, due for an update in 2023, could potentially interact with the Vision Pro. With trackpad and keyboard support like Macs, the iPad could be a valuable addition to the Vision Pro ecosystem if compatibility is introduced in future models.
Uncertainty Around Mac’s Integration
Despite Apple’s affirmation that the Mac will work with the Vision Pro, the lack of detailed information about this relationship raises questions. With the expected M3-equipped Macs yet to be unveiled, one might worry that these next-gen Macs will have Vision Pro-specific features.
As 2023 comes to a close, Apple’s near-future product ecosystem appears to be more ambiguous than ever before. Although the Vision Pro is marketed as a standalone device, it is likely to eventually integrate with Apple’s entire product lineup. However, until more compatibility details surface, consumers might be better off waiting and watching.
Apple’s Vision Pro represents a significant shift in the realm of mixed reality technology. The integration of this technology with existing Apple devices poses numerous possibilities, albeit with a fair share of uncertainties. Until more compatibility details are unveiled, consumers should exercise caution when investing in new Apple devices. The Vision Pro’s potential is vast, but the specifics of its integration with other devices remain to be seen.