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Apple's Vision Pro Finally Being Released

Apple has announced its long-awaited Vision Pro headset will go on sale on 2 February in the United States. It's the first major new product to be released by the firm since the Apple Watch launched in 2015.

Apple Vision Pro
Apple Vision Pro | Apple

US customers have been given the option to pre-order the $3,499 (£2,749) mixed-reality device from mid-January, though no date has been set for launches elsewhere. No wonder, according to the Financial Times, Apple has more than halved its initial production forecasts, dropping from an estimated one million units to 400,000 in 2024.

After years of rumours during development, the company revealed the headset in June 2023 and released advanced prototypes to a select few media organisations, including the BBC. Their reporter described the user experience "as classic, minimalist Apple. Once the headset is on, you see the room around you but you're not seeing it through glass, you're seeing it through the many on-board cameras." But if someone walks in front of you in real life, you can see them no matter how immersed you are.

This is the "mixed-reality" experience - digital content projected on to your surroundings.

You physically press a single button on the top right-hand side of the headset, and up pops familiar app icons you'll recognise if you have used an iPhone - iMessage, Photos, Apple TV (there will be more as developers make them).

And from then on it's all about gesture control - the headset tracks where you are looking so when you look at an app and pinch your thumb and forefinger together, it opens. You can choose your level of immersion using a physical dial to turn up or down the size of whatever it is that you're looking at. It can fill the entire room or appear like a TV screen superimposed against your wall.

Unlike many existing headsets, Apple has detached the battery, so it doesn't sit heavy on your head - although it does mean the battery has to sit beside you instead, attached to a cable.

Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly, Apple is trying to separate the headset from other devices on the market, telling developers for the device to instead brand their apps as spatial computing. "Don't describe your app experience as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), extended reality (XR), or mixed reality (MR)," it said in a blog post targeting developers.

If successful - and who would bet against Apple? - this could be a new multi-billion dollar source of income for one of the world's most valuable companies.

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