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So, what exactly is Apple Vision Pro?

Vision Pro app screen

If you're an Apple user, it would have been hard to miss the launch of the brand's newest device - Vision Pro. Marketed as Apple's first "spatial computer", many are still trying to wrap their heads around exactly what this new product is.

At Apple's WWDC in 2024, Apple CEO Tim Cook described Vision Pro as an "entirely new AR platform". But that still doesn't quite explain exactly what Vision Pro is.

To be frank, in order to understand it, you have to use it. So, it's lucky that I was given some one-on-one time with the Vision Pro. Here's what you need to know.


Is the Vision Pro a VR headset?

It's tempting to liken the device to a VR headset. After all, it is indeed a headset that your strap onto your face which projects realistic images before your eyes. But Vision Pro is not just a graphics projector: this device falls into an entirely new category of tech. After spending some time with Vision Pro, you realise it really isn't like a VR headset at all.

At its core, Vision Pro is a computer. You can use it to open apps, browse the web and watch movies just as you would with any laptop. Only, instead of tangible, hand-touch controls, the device is controlled by your eyes and finger pinches.




How does Vision Pro work?

After you find the correct attachment for your face size, you can place the headset over your eyes. Makeup wearers, note that that it will press against your forehead, cheeks and eye area. If you are testing this device, you will need to bring products to touch up after.

Looking into the headset, you'll see the room around you. Although, it is a projection of your surroundings onto the screen in the head set - live captured by the camera in the headset. You'll then be met by the Apple's classic "hello" as you set the device up.

As Vision Pro works by tracking the movements of your eyes, you'll need to engage in a set up exercise where you look at a series of dots superimposed into the space in front of you. This calibrates the eye-tracking and gets you used to the navigation. Once this is done, you're ready to use Vision Pro.

There is a button at the top of the headset on the left that will allow you to capture video and pictures. There is also a second button on the right called "the digital crown": it can be tapped to bring up your home app view or twisted like on an Apple Watch. Twisting the digital crown will have a different function depending on which app you're using.

To select an app, simply look at it. Make sure to keep your gaze steady: if you eyes wander off, you'll end up selecting something different. Then to open - or "click" - tap your index finger and thumb together in the air - you can use either hand, no controller necessary.

Now that you're on the app screen, you can use Vision Pro as you would any iPad or iPhone. Open photos to browse images, dive into Apple TV to watch content, click on Safari to browse the web. As with all Apple device, Vision Pro is Siri-enabled, so you can also use voice commands. And if you prefer to type rather than dictate, Vision Pro has a virtual keyboard too.



What is unique about Vision Pro?

The Vision Pro difference is that it offers a totally immersive experience. If you're in a crowded office and want to reply to your emails as if you're alone in your own space, you can do that. If you're crammed into an economy plane seat and want to watch a movie against a background of mountains or forest, you can do that too. You can also get a true 3D content experience. I watched a home video of a child blowing out their birthday candles. The smoke from the candles appeared to blow right up to my face. You can also view your photos in a totally immersive way. If you have a great snap of the French Riviera, Vision Pro can allow you to feel as though you're walking through the moment in your photo.

Of course, there is a huge use case for big businesses too. Are you working on the design of a new appliance? Perhaps you're formulating the interior design of a new home? You can bring these models and plans to life and have them projected to the world around you in a to-scale way. You can walk around a new dining table design and inspect it close up, and then decide whether you like the placement in the room or if you would rather move it to a different place - which you can do by grabbing and dropping with your fingers.


How can you try Vision Pro?

As I mentioned earlier in the piece, to full understand this technology you do need to see it and experience it for yourself. Remember in 2010 when the iPad was released and everyone kept calling it "just a big version of an iPhone". But of course, after living with iPad for 14 years know iPad is so much more. In the exact same way, Vision Pro has to be tested to be understood.

Vision Pro will become available to Australians from Friday 12 July, from which point you can book in for a free demo session at an Apple store.

Vision Pro retails from $5,999 in Australia.


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