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In brief: Apple does not maintain a presence at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which starts tomorrow. However, that didn't stop it from using the busy news cycle to reveal some details on its upcoming Vision Pro mixed reality headset. The Vision Pro is the first new product out of Cupertino since the Apple Watch in 2015.
On Monday, Apple announced it would launch the Vision Pro in the US on February 2. Customers can begin preordering the device on January 19. They should prepare to shell out at least $3,500 for the device, a price Apple revealed during WWDC 2023.
Apple strived to make the Vision Pro as light, compact, and streamlined as possible. As such, there is not enough room inside the headset for users to wear prescription eyeglasses or readers. Apple's solution is built-in corrective lenses. Unfortunately, this creates a couple of drawbacks.
First, those needing vision assistance must provide Apple with their vision prescription and have their headset custom-made, which could add to shipping time. Apple has not given an estimated timeframe for customized orders, but it's not unreasonable to tack on an extra week or two.
The second caveat is the additional cost. At $3,500, the Vision Pro is already the most expensive device of its kind commercially available. Those needing to add prescription lenses must pay an extra $149. If you need readers, Apple has Zeiss Optical inserts for $99. Those prices aren't overly steep, especially for those already willing to pay the $3,500 entry price. However, it may seem unnecessary, considering other headsets can accommodate eyewear.
Accompanying the Vision Pro is a new operating system called "visionOS." Like iPadOS, visionOS was not designed from the ground up but is a fork of iOS. So, the Vision Pro will immediately have a library of millions of existing apps, including over 250 Apple Arcade games.
Compatible apps will operate normally, albeit on a giant virtual screen. However, this does not mean that the Vision Pro will not have native apps that exclusively leverage the headset's technology.
One of the first mixed reality games for the Vision Pro will likely be a port of the popular deck-building adventure Demeo from Resolution Games, which the studio announced last September. The game's demo shows it having virtual dice and an augmented reality game board.
Apple stated that more Vision Pro titles are in the works, including "new spatial games" from franchises such as What the Golf, Game Room, and Super Fruit Ninja.
"[These] new spatial games [will] transform the space around players, offering unique and engaging gameplay experiences," Apple said.
It also said that some non-spatial games, like Sonic Dream Team, will have controller support. Imagine playing NBA 2K24 Arcade Edition, which is pretty good on the iPad, on a gigantic screen, and not having to fumble with touch controls.
The company stopped short of naming compatible controllers. However, since Apple products are already generally compatible with PlayStation and Xbox controllers, we can reasonably expect the same functionality from the visionOS fork.
You can check out Apple's Vision Pro product page for a full blow-by-blow of features. It will also be where customers can order the headset when Apple starts taking preorders on January 19.