What is Apple Vision Pro?
Apple has finally released the Vision Pro, a computer built into a headset that can display virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). So, what does that actually mean, and when is it available in the UK?
It’s a big deal when Apple enters a brand new product category. The last time was in 2014, when it announced the first Apple Watch, which was hot on the heels of 2007’s iPhone and 2010’s iPad. It has taken the best part of a decade for the Vision Pro to emerge, and its usefulness is not as obvious as Apple’s other wildly successful products.
The Vision Pro is currently only sold in the US, but there is understandably a lot of hype around this brand new, very expensive new Apple device. In this article we answer all the burning questions you might have about the Apple Vision Pro, including what it does, when it’s coming to the UK, and if you really need one.
What is Apple Vision Pro?
Apple Vision Pro is Apple’s first ever virtual reality (VR) headset, but it can also display things in augmented reality (AR). Apple doesn’t refer to Vision Pro as a VR or AR headset, instead calling it a ‘spatial computer’. It looks a little like a pair of ski goggles and attaches to a person’s head with a strap.
You can control apps in a virtual space in front of you using your eyes, hands and voice. It’s reminiscent of the futuristic technology seen in sci-fi films such as Minority Report.
The Apple Vision Pro with its plug in battery pack
What does Apple Vision Pro do?
VR headsets show you content in virtual worlds. Apple Vision Pro can put you inside apps that simulate things such as an enormous cinema screen or put you in a virtual environment.
The Vision Pro can also display things in AR, which is where you can see the world around you but can overlay it with text, apps, windows, and other computer elements.
Early uses for the headset include watching films on what, to the wearer, is a cinema-size screen. Apple said Vision Pro can project “a screen that feels 100 feet wide”. You’ll also be able to make FaceTime calls in a virtual Zoom-like setting, surf the web in multiple movable windows, watch videos in 2D or 3D, or watch several live streams of simultaneous sporting events.
At lauch, the headset can download and run more than 600 purpose-built apps for Vision Pro, or more than one million existing iOS and iPadOS apps.
A man using the Apple Vision Pro
How does Apple Vision Pro work?
The Vision Pro uses two high resolution displays that project images to both the wearer’s eyes. As the screens are so close to the eyes, the resulting image appears as one plane of view to the viewer.
The headset can then display images and content in VR or AR where it feels like things are in the physical space in front of the wearer rather than on a screen.
The Vision Pro can also connect to your iMac or MacBook to act like a large monitor or space in which to open all your apps. You can use a virtual keyboard or attach a wireless one – with the latter option you can still see the physical keyboard in front of you, but when you look up there will be virtual displays in front of your eyes.
While Vision Pro can interact with other Apple devices which will make it more useful and personal, it does not require connection to an iPhone or other device to work. It runs on mains power or can be used unplugged with the included battery pack that attaches to the headset with a wire. Apple says the battery will last for two hours of “general use” or two and a half of video playback.
Apple doesn’t recommend you wear glasses when using the Vision Pro. You can wear contact lenses, or purchase prescriptions lenses from Apple that magnetically clip onto the inside of the headset.
A man typing on a keyboard using Apple Vision Pro
How much does Apple Vision Pro cost?
Apple Vision Pro costs $3,499. It is only available in the US since it went on sale on 2 February 2024.
Where to buy Apple Vision Pro
Currently you can only buy Apple Vision Pro directly from Apple in the US. You can go in-store to buy one or order one on the Apple website.
Apple is asking anyone ordering online to attend a fitting session to get set up, a service it also offers to in-store buyers.
When is Apple Vision Pro coming to the UK?
Apple has not confirmed if and when Vision Pro will go on sale in the UK, but we expect the device to go on sale in regions outside the US in the near future.
It is very likely that the Vision Pro will go on sale in the UK officially in 2024, according to Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman. He reported that Apple is lining up the UK and Canada as the first two international markets to get Vision Pro by the end of the year, though apparently a final decision has not been reached within Apple.
How much will the Apple Vision Pro cost in the UK?
There is no official UK price yet for the Apple Vision Pro, but considering how Apple tends to price its other products, it could well cost £3,499.
The Vision Pro costs $3,499 in the US. As of February 2024, $3,499 is equal to about £2,788 but Apple doesn’t usually price its products at a converted rate. iPhones and iPads often cost the same in pounds as they do in US dollars.
Apple CEO Tim Cook poses for a selfie with a Vision Pro customer
Can you use Apple Vision Pro outside the US?
You currently have to attend an Apple Store in the US to buy Vision Pro but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it in another country. However Apple did confirm the following details to 9to5Mac:
- Zeiss only accepts vision prescriptions written by U.S. eye care professionals. Zeiss will only ship to U.S. addresses.
- Some content, apps, and features might be unavailable outside of the United States due to licensing restrictions.
- Vision Pro only supports English (U.S.) for language and typing.
- Vision Pro only supports English for Siri and Dictation.
- Apple Music and Apple TV app purchases require an Apple ID with the region set to the United States.
- The App Store for visionOS requires an Apple ID with the region set to the United States.
- Apple Support for Vision Pro is only available in the United States.
People have also, predicatably, started selling Vision Pro headsets on eBay. We don’t recommend buying one from an eBay seller though as prices are extortionate, and you will not be able to go through Apple’s personalised in-store setup process. There are also likely to be some scams in operation given the high prices and the scarcity of the new tech.
Do you need an Apple Vision Pro? Is it worth it?
If you have several other Apple products such as an iPhone, iPad, and Mac, then you might be wondering if you need the Vision Pro. It’s a good thing to ponder, because it isn’t entirely clear what the Vision Pro is really for at this stage.
Arguably though that was the case when Apple launched the iPhone in 2007. Most people had feature phones or an early smartphone such as a BlackBerry, and the iPhone seemed so different with its glass screen and virtual keyboard that many people turned their noses up at it.
A similar judgement is being levelled at the Vision Pro. This could be because VR and AR are not yet mainstream household technologies. They don’t yet have an everyday use case for the average person.
It’s very possible that we will have to wait for future versions of Vision Pro to get cheaper, smaller, and have better battery life before the technology becomes more essential for consumers. It is rumoured that Apple’s vision (ha) is to shrink AR technology down into a pair of regular glasses in the future. You might be able to read texts, follow maps, and do other app-based tasks on spectacles that looked normal enough that other people would not notice you’re wearing a computer on your face.
People will very much notice the computer on your face when you’re wearing the ski goggle-style Vision Pro. You will not blend in, as popular YouTuber Casey Neistat showed in his first impressions video:
That said, Neistat seemed to be very impressed with the function of Vision Pro, even if people around him were bewildered while he was bewitched.
Are there any Apple Vision Pro alternatives?
Apple Vision Pro doesn’t have a direct competitor in the market. The closest similar product is the Meta Quest 3, what Meta (Facebook’s owner) calls a “mixed reality VR headset”. The main difference is it costs a mere £479 compared to the $3,499 Vision Pro. That said, it’s already widely accepted that the Vision Pro is a lot more technologically advanced.
It might be oversimplifying it slightly, but the Meta Quest 3 is primarily a gaming headset, whereas Vision Pro can become many different things, including a full desktop computer.
Other competitors include the Sony PlayStation VR, which is a headset that requires a PlayStation console to use, and the line of Vive VR headsets from HTC, some of which are for gaming while others have business and enterprise use cases.