Vision Pro: Apple's new augmented reality headset unveiled

3 months ago 56

The AR headset dubbed Apple Vision ProImage source, APPLE

By Tom Gerken, James Clayton & Shiona McCallum

BBC News

Apple has unveiled a much-anticipated augmented reality headset, Apple Vision Pro, in its first major hardware launch for almost a decade.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said the new headset "seamlessly blends the real world and the virtual world".

The tech firm also announced its latest iPhone operating system, as well as updates to MacBook Air.

The headset has a two-hour battery life, costs $3,499 (£2,849) and will be released early next year in the US.

The cost is considerably more than virtual reality headsets currently on the market. Last week Meta announced its Quest - which costs $449.

Apple said little about generative artificial intelligence - the buzzy technology that is the talk of Silicon Valley.

The company's share price fell slightly during the announcement, made at a developer's conference at Apple Park, the company's headquarters, in Cupertino, California.

'Ski goggles'

Apple Vision Pro looks different to similar headsets on the market - and is more reminiscent of a pair of ski goggles than a virtual reality headset.

Apple used the phrase "augmented reality" to describe what the new device does.

Augmented reality, also known as mixed reality, superimposes virtual objects in the world around us - enabling us to mix reality with virtual reality by looking through a screen.

Mr Cook said the headset allows users to "see, hear and interact with digital content just like it's in your physical space".

It is controlled by using a combination of your hands, eyes and voice - such as tapping your fingers together to select, and flicking them to scroll.

The announcement comes a week after Meta and Lenovo announced new iterations of their pre-existing virtual-reality headsets, that do not superimpose objects onto a view of the real world.

Meta has also invested heavily in mixed reality - but right now the sector is struggling.

The headset market saw a 54% drop in global sales last year, according to the International Data Corporation.

Apple's last major hardware release was for the Apple Watch device in 2015.

iOS 17

Aside from the Vision Pro announcement, Apple also unveiled iOS17, the latest version of its iPhone operating system.

Updates include "contact posters" - a picture or image of yourself that will appear on a person's phone when you call them - and "live voicemail" - which provides a real-time transcription of an answerphone message being left to you.

This transcription will also apply to audio messages left using Apple Messages.

And Apple has introduced a system called Check-In - which will automatically tell a friend or family member when you've arrived home.

If your journey is substantially delayed, it has the power to tell others that you have not made it home safely yet.

The new operating system will be available in Autumn 2023.

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