February 23, 2024

I spent a little more than 30 minutes wearing the Apple Vision Pro today, and I saw the future of computing. The impressive technology in Apple’s upcoming mixed-reality headset lays the groundwork for what’s to come, but I am at a crossroads. I’m not sold on the bulky headset.

Apple announced the Vision Pro at its Worldwide Developer Conference last year. It’s a $3,500 wearable computing platform you don over your head. Preorders start tomorrow, January 19, and it goes on sale on February 2, which is when you’ll be able to demo it at Apple Stores worldwide. My time with it today showcased a final version of the official hardware with some new experiences.

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OK Computer

Photograph: Apple

The Vision Pro operates completely independently, so you don’t need to pair it with another device. Once you’re wearing it, you’ll be interfacing with visionOS, Apple’s new spatial operating system which offers a unique software experience that somehow feels familiar. It’s kind of like iOS but suspended in midair. You can watch movies, revisit memories in the Photos app, play games, and even do some work.

This last point is what attracts me the most. I would love to have the ability to open multiple windows and create a desktop-like experience in confined spaces like a coffee shop or airplane. You can connect a wireless keyboard and mouse to the Vision Pro if you want to get real work done, or you can stare at your MacBook’s screen to bring it into visionOS over Wi-Fi (powered by the laptop); here, you can add other virtual screens to supplement your work.

If you have glasses like me, you’ll have to order prescription Zeiss optical inserts for $149 (you can get readers for $99). These magnetically attach to the optical lenses inside the Vision Pro. I gave Apple my prescription ahead of time, so my demo unit was prepped and I was able to wear it without glasses on.

My colleague Lauren Goode got to try the Vision Pro last year at WWDC, and much of her experience lines up with mine. At the start, you’re asked to scan your face twice on an iPhone, just like you would to set up Face ID. Before you pop on the headset, you can choose between two options for the headband included in the box: the Solo Knit Band or the Dual Loop Band.