After years of development, Apple has today unveiled the first iteration of its AR glasses - which is essentially a Meta Quest unit, minus VR.
Apple’s first step into mixed reality is called the Vision Pro, which will incorporate a range of potential use cases.
As outlined in the video, Apple’s touting this as a ‘new era of spatial computing’, with simplified eye and finger controls to interact, digital elements that respond to real-world cues, and immersive AR elements.
Which looks pretty good, and there are potentially some amazing use cases that could stem from the new device. But as noted, pretty much all of the same can be done in a Meta Quest VR unit already, with the addition of full VR, which the Vision Pro doesn’t have.
And for a lot cheaper. At launch, coming early next year, the Vision Pro will be priced at a whopping $3,499. For comparison, the new Quest 3 unit, coming this fall, will be $499.
Yeah, not sure Apple has cracked the unit pricing aspect as yet.
Of course, things might be different if the Vision Pro was something that you could wear outside the house, if Apple had been able to integrate full AR and pass-through capability into stylish glasses, like Meta’s Stories collaboration with Ray Ban.
But look at this:
Like, the technology seems solid, the functionality is interesting. But it’s essentially the same tools, for seven times the price - and you can’t even comfortably go outside and catch Pokemon in AR with it? Yeah, nah, probably not.
It’s also tethered by a cable, which the Quest is not. The cable links to a portable battery, so you can still take it anywhere, but you keep that battery in your pocket? I can already imagine the burnt thigh lawsuits.
Like, I dare not doubt Tim Cook, but…
There are some really interesting functional elements, and we’ll be able to get a better sense of how the device works after it’s released. But right now, it seems like Apple is still a way behind Meta on this front, while also losing out by being unwilling to eat the initial costs that will secure mass take-up.
Like, Meta’s VR unit is bleeding money, and part of that would be on unit costs, as Meta would prefer to get more Quest headsets out into people’s homes, as opposed to mitigating fiscal impacts. That, in itself, is obviously a risky approach - but a $3,499 price tag is going to be so limiting that I’m not sure that anyone will be seriously considering this over a Quest, at any stage.
I don’t even know how Apple’s going to pitch this. What’s the unique selling point? Is it even better than a Quest 2, or legacy versions of the unit?
It’s another important development in the evolution of AR, and another step along the pathway to the next stage of technological interaction. But the price tag is likely the biggest announcement of the day – which is not great for Apple’s initial launch.