Tim Cook: Vision Pro is ushering in spatial computing

Tim Cook: Vision Pro is ushering in spatial computing
The Apple Vision Pro, Apple’s premium XR (Extended Reality) headset, has been making waves since its launch in February. A lot of people are finally looking at XR as a viable means of computing instead of as a passing fad. Many others are ridiculing the headset’s exorbitant price tag. Apple CEO Tim Cook explained in a recent interview that, like the Mac and iPhone, Vision Pro is ushering in a new form of computing: spatial computing.

The term ‘spatial computing’ has been used by Apple to describe what its headset does. In Cook’s own words, spatial computing lets you see, hear and interact with content in your physical space. Simply put, much like Meta, Apple seems to believe it is the future of computing.

The Vision Pro is marketed as an MR (Mixed Reality) headset. This means that the headset is always showing users their real-life surroundings via a live passthrough feed. In our Apple Vision Pro review we found the headset’s passthrough to be adequate most of the time. Definitely one of the better headsets for passthrough, but could do with more improvement.

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Unlike most other XR headsets, Apple didn’t market Vision Pro for gaming. | Video credit — Apple

The Vision Pro is far from the first XR headset. VR has been an industry for years now, mostly marketed towards gaming. Apple hopes to change that and make XR — MR specifically — a booming industry for all sorts of niches. But can Apple beat Meta to the punch? The latter has been invested in making XR the future for a lot longer than the former.

How does Apple hope to capture the market?

One of the most talked about factors of the Vision Pro is its price tag of $3,499. A cost so high that even the most diehard VR enthusiasts are finding it difficult to justify the purchase. And now with Apple bringing the headset to other countries and regions, the Vision Pro’s international pricing is even harder to stomach.

Not to mention the fact that Apple doesn’t allow you to play existing VR games on the Vision Pro. Prompting people to design workarounds to play Steam PC VR games on Vision Pro. The selection of some MR games on Apple Arcade just isn’t enough, in my opinion.

So, how does Apple hope to capture a market already populated with amazing headsets like the Meta Quest 3? One strategy the company is using is to make people emotionally invested in its headset. Promos often show touching moments of people watching videos of their family on the Vision Pro.

Apple is also changing its in-store Vision Pro demo to allow people to view their own spatial photos and videos. Furthermore, as Cook reminds us in the interview, visionOS 2 will let users convert their 2D photos into stereoscopic 3D spatial images using advanced processing.

Tim Cook (Apple CEO), EFTM interview, July 2024

The Vision Pro is also quite a capable little device. Something that is expected of a first-gen product according to former head of Oculus Hugo Barra, who called the Vision Pro an over-engineered devkit.

Its capability is something others seem to be taking note of as well. Around half of Fortune 100 companies have bought a Vision Pro, presumably to test whether it really does improve productivity. Meta has also been taking notes, and the latest Quest update mimics visionOS with how panels are handled in 3D space.

Despite Apple’s ambitions and the capabilities of Vision Pro, one thing remains certain in my opinion. There needs to be a cheaper Vision Pro for most consumers to take an interest in what Apple is offering.

Fortunately, it appears Apple is thinking along the same lines for Vision Pro 2.
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