I watched Apple's new Immersive Video on the Vision Pro — and it's a game changer

Apple Vision Pro on table
(Image credit: Future)

It’s easy to be over the Vision Pro at this point, given all the hype around the launch of Apple’s spatial computer. But this headset keeps sucking me back in with tantalizing glimpses into the future of sports and entertainment.

This past weekend I had a chance to watch the latest Apple Immersive Video featuring highlights from the 2023 Major League Soccer Cup playoffs, and I was blown away by the level of immersion in the Apple TV Plus app — but also turned off by one particular aspect. 

First the good news. The Immersive Video format gets its name from the fact that it’s created by recording 8K 3D video with a 180-degree field of view, complete with Spatial Audio support. This means that you’ll feel like you’re on the field with the players and in the locker room. The NBA and MLB Vision Pro apps are great on their own, but they don't offer true Immersive Video like this. 

The Immersive Video short film transported me right to field level as the Columbus Crew club celebrated its MLS Cup win in front of its fans. I felt like I was right next to Diego Rossi as he kissed the trophy for thousands of onlookers. I even felt a jolt of excitement as the confetti fell from the sky and the fireworks went off above my head. If only I could relive the last New York Giants Super Bowl win like this; I’d probably pay good money.

In between the action I enjoyed the up-close shots of the crowd, including a shot of a security guard recording the action on his phone on the sideline. And I felt like I was cheating having the same view as he did.

Then we take a brief trip back in time to see the playoff match between the Seattle Sounders vs Los Angeles Football Club, and I see Denis Bouanga advancing towards the goal, kicking the ball into the back right corner of the net. My view is floating just above the goal so I can see all the action unfold. My only complaint is that I have to quickly turn my head from left to right to see the ball as it cross the line. That’s not something I’m used to when watching TV. For better or for worse, this is not passive sports watching.

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It was also very cool to see slide tackles with the grass kicking up and quick changes of direction with the ball before a beautiful pass. And then I saw a perfect strike from FC Cincinnati’s Luciano Acosta that ricocheted off the far post. But the Columbus Crew came roaring back with a slick header pass to Christian Ramirez who booted it into the back of the net. I felt the chaos in front of the goal as it all unfolded, including a very frustrated goalie as he looked around as if to ask, “A little help?”

Major League Soccer MLS Cup highlights on Apple Vision Pro

(Image credit: Apple TV)

In between the action I enjoyed the shots of the crowd, including a shot of a security guard recording a bit of the match on his phone. It felt like I was cheating having the same view as he did. 

The main highlight for me was seeing the Columbus Crew celebrate in the locker room after the Championship match with champagne spraying in every direction and the players hugging and dancing. You usually don’t get this kind of access — certainly not up this close. 

My biggest problem with the whole experience is that the Vision Pro had major issues resuming playback when I put the headset down and tried to start up the clip again. In a couple of cases I had to restart the Apple TV app.

Overall, though, I think Immersive Video could be the future of sports watching. At first it might have to be limited to highlights of major events. I’d personally love to see what the NBA could do with the NBA Finals or DJ Burns bowl over defenders during March Madness

Over time, Immersive Video could be a premium live streaming product but I’m guessing it would take enormous bandwidth to make that happen. For now, the Vision Pro is the best way to watch sports most people don’t know about. 

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Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.