Spatial video is one of the big reasons you'll feel good about plunking down $3,499 for an Apple Vision Pro, when that headset goes on sale tomorrow (February 2). But you might feel less good about the decision when you find out the much cheaper Meta Quest 3 will be able to show those same videos.
Just ahead of the Vision Pro launch, Meta announced that its next software update will give Meta Quest 3 owners the ability to view spatial video shot for Apple's headset. While the Vision Pro provides a way to capture such videos, you can also record them using either an iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max.
In spatial videos on Apple's headset, the video unfolds right in front of you in an immersive, 3D-style way, practically surrounding you with details and sounds. People who've tested the feature on the Vision Pro rave about the experience, and my colleague Mark Spoonauer calls it "one of the biggest selling points" in his Apple Vision Pro review.
No wonder, then, that Meta wants in on the spatial video action. According to the company, the v62 update rolling out February 7 will allow users to upload spatial videos to the Meta Quest mobile app, where they'll be converted for playback and uploaded to the cloud. On the headset itself, users will be able to access videos from the Files menu. There's a 30-minute maximum on how long those videos can be.
On the Meta channel in Instagram, CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered a demo of spatial video to announce the news, though the immersive quality is hard to see without the benefit of a headset.
Adding support for spatial video steals a bit of Apple's thunder ahead of the Vision Pro launch, given the price disparity between the two device. Apple is selling its headset for $3,499, while the Meta Quest 3 costs a relatively paltry $499. A $3,000 price gap is one of those things that's hard to ignore.
Spatial video support isn't the only Vision Pro-like feature coming to the Meta Quest 3. In that same announcement, Meta says it's introducing pinching gestures as a way to access commonly used actions. Opening the universal menu will require a pinch and release gesture, while pinching and holding recenters the headset view.
The Vision Pro incorporates pinching gestures of its own, like pinching and dragging for scrolling. Pinching your fingers together with both hands and spreading them apart enables you to zoom in on photos and webpages.
An Apple Vision Pro vs. Meta Quest 3 comparison reveals many things that Apple's headset can do which are currently impossible on Quest headsets. But support for spatial video is a big bonus for Zuckerberg and company.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.