Apple Vision Pro rumors, predictions, release year, specs, apps and more

Apple Vision Pro
(Image credit: Future)

The Apple Vision Pro is Apple's first official mixed reality headset. And you can see our first impressions in our Apple Vision Pro hands-on review

And let's be clear — when we say mixed reality, we mean it. While the headset may look like a contender for the best VR headset on the market, it is not designed to keep you immersed in a virtual world. Features such as EyeSight and Digital Persona ensure that not only are you still engaged with the physical world, but the physical world remains able to engage with you.

But, of course, these groundbreaking features come with an earth-shattering price. At $3,499, the Apple Vision Pro is easily the most expensive mainstream headset — virtual reality or mixed reality. And unfortunately, you'll have to wait a while to get your hands on it, since Apple says it won't be available until 2024.

Here's everything we know about the Apple Vision Pro. 

Apple Vision Pro latest news (Updated September 14)

Apple Vision Pro: What you need to know

  • $3,499 U.S. price. U.S. only starting in early 2024, with availability in other countries to follow.
  • Twin 4K displays inside the headset provide incredible HDR picture quality, but if you wear glasses you'll need to get custom Zeiss inserts.
  • EyeSight uses a front display to show others that you are engaging with them or that you are immersed in the headset.
  • visionOS allows for 3D experiences native to the Vision Pro. iOS and iPadOS apps will be available in a Vision Pro App Store along with visionOS apps.
  • The crown on the top of the headset allows you to control how immersed in the headset you are, from augmented reality to virtual reality.
  • No controllers needed — the headset relies on eye and hand tracking in addition to voice commands.
  • Take spatial photos and videos with just the tap of a button. EyeSight will let others around you know that you're taking a photo or video.
  • Disney is an official partner with the Vision Pro and is creating exclusive experiences for the headset, including Disney World, Marvel games and more.

Apple Vision Pro price

Apple Vision Pro at WWDC 2023

(Image credit: Apple)

According to Apple's launch presentation during the WWDC keynote, the Vision Pro will cost $3,499 at launch. The headset will initially be available in the U.S. only, so we do not have pricing for other countries at this time.

Interestingly, one leaker claims Apple only spends $1,509 for each headset it builds. That would be quite a profit margin if true.

While the Vision Pro headset can't be pre-ordered right now, you can sign up for a notification from Apple so you can be alerted to when the headset will be available to pre-order. With such a high price tag (more on that below) don't expect the Vision Pro to be a device for the masses. Apple is reportedly working on a cheaper version for the Vision Pro for 2025 with some of the more premium features removed. 

This is good news, because the current version of the Vision Pro may have serious supply chain constraints. According to a rumor, Sony, which makes the headset's Micro OLED displays, can only produce 100,000 to 200,000 displays per quarter. That means it's possible Apple can only manufacture 400,000 headsets per year due to the premium displays its chosen.

It seems this estimate of 400,000 could be right on the money. A report from Financial Times suggests that Apple's initial sales target of 1 million units in the first year has now been revised to — you guessed it — 400,000 units. That could make it nearly impossible for Apple to reach an install base of 20 million users in 5 years, which some analysts are predicting.

For more on the Vision Pro's price and if it's an obstacle, check out our interview with 3 analysts who tried the Vision Pro. We asked them if it will fly with consumers or flop. 

Apple Vision Pro release date

Apple Vision Pro still doesn't have an official release date, but it does have an official release date window. Apple says that the headset will become available for purchase in early 2024, which tracks with a rumor we saw just before launch that the headset could get pushed into next year. Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated this timeline is on track at the September Apple event where Apple launched the iPhone 15.

As previously mentioned, at its release the Vision Pro will only be available to U.S. customers, though other countries are expected to get a rollout not too long after the U.S. launch.

Once it's released though, you may be required to book an in-store appointment before buying the headset. This is similar to what Apple did with the first Apple Watch generation, and it's aimed at ensuring customers get an accurately tailored experience from the outset.

However, it seems that if you're not near an Apple store you may still be in luck. Apple is making developers get fitted for Vision Pro dev kits, all but indicating that you’ll probably need an Apple Vision Pro custom fitting. But these developers were able to use a Measure and Fit app that uses a camera to fit you for the Vision Pro's Head Band and Light Shield. If this app is used for the consumer version of the headset, getting fitted could become a much easier task.

Apple Vision Pro design

Apple Vision Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

At first glance, the Apple Vision Pro doesn't look incredibly dissimilar from a traditional VR headset or even a mixed reality device like the Meta Quest Pro. But once you turn it on, there are some distinct differences.

The biggest one is that the front of the visor features a display underneath a curved pane of 3D laminated glass. This allows the Vision Pro to use EyeSight, a feature that shows others around you your eyes so they feel like they're interacting with you like they would normally. 

This glass pane also serves as a lens for the Vision Pro's camera array, which is extensive. The Vision Pro includes 12 cameras and six microphones so that users do not need controllers to control the device. Instead, you will use a combination of eye tracking, hand gestures and voice commands.

But the front display isn't all that is crafted using Apple's typical eye for details. The mixed reality headset features a custom aluminum alloy frame that is curved to fit your face. Apple takes this focus on custom fit further by using a modular design so the Light Seal (what Meta calls a facial interface) fits to your face as perfectly as possible. The Light Seal comes in several shapes and sizes and is made of a soft fabric for improved comfort while using the Vision Pro.

Apple also continues its focus on fit with the Head Band, which is also available in a variety of sizes. It is made of a 3D knitted fabric and attaches via a simple locking mechanism at the front of the headband. It's around here that you'll also find the speakers, which Apple dubs "audio pods." These pods provide Personalized Spatial Audio that is designed to be as immersive as possible.

The Vision Pro has two buttons on the top of the headset. One is an action button that allows you to take spatial photos and videos. And for those worried about being unwittingly photographed, Apple promises that the front display will use EyeSight to signal that a photo or video is being taken. The other button is a crown similar to the Apple Watch, which can control the level of immersion you are in while wearing the headset. 

One way we know this crown will be used is to engage the Vision Pro's Cinema Environments. These 13 locations will become the Vision Pro's background as you watch movies on the simulated 100-foot screen, provided you crank up the immersion on the Vision Pro's dial.

Finally, there's one last major design note. The Apple Vision Pro can be used all day when plugged in but otherwise needs an external battery to work. This battery — possibly dubbed 'Magic Battery' — lasts for about two hours and connects to the headset via a woven cable. Unfortunately, that means you'll need yet another proprietary Apple charger. What looks like a USB-C adapter was recently spotted attached to the headset in a WWDC developer video. However, it's unclear at this point whether the adapter (which appears to attach to the other side of the headset from the power cable) will be available to all or merely used as a developer tool.

Apple Vision Pro display

Apple Vision Pro at WWDC 2023

(Image credit: Apple)

The Apple Vision Pro displays are leaps and bounds ahead of anything Meta offers so far. It features two Micro OLED 4K displays, one per eye. A leak following WWDC estimates these 4K displays will have a display resolution of 3800 x 3000 per eye once Apple reveals its official spec sheet.

Each display is the size of a postage stamp, which produces incredible pixel density. The two 4K displays combined have 23 million pixels, which Apple says is 64 times the pixel density of an iPhone.  These incredible displays are a big way that the Apple Vision Pro beats the Meta Quest Pro, at least on paper.

If you want to learn more about Micro OLED technology and why it's perfectly suited for the small displays of VR headsets, check out our Micro OLED explainer to learn about how it works, the advantages and disadvantages of Micro OLED and more.

Apple says that the twin displays feature "wide color and high dynamic range" though it's unclear if that means the displays support HDR content in formats like HDR10 or Dolby Vision. And thanks to the new R1 chip developed by Apple, content will get to those displays in just 12ms. The refresh rate for 2D content is 90Hz according to Apple, with the ability to peak at 96Hz for content created at 24fps.

If you need glasses though, we do have some bad news for you. Due to its design, the Apple Vision Pro will not work with glasses. Instead, Apple has collaborated with Zeiss for optical inserts to replace your glasses while using the headset. It is unclear what these inserts will cost or if they impact the visual fidelity of the headset in any way, though Apple says they will ensure the headset works as intended.
Zeiss has launched its own site for the Apple Vision Pro inserts, which it says will be available early next year. At least that indicates that the inserts will be available at launch with the Vision Pro headset. 

We also may have gotten a sneak peek at what the display for a future second or third Vision Pro could look like, and it's very futuristic. In a patent application, Apple laid out the possible design for a liquid display that uses a system of actuators, pumps and reservoirs to form and deform lenses within flexible and/or rigid walls. 

Again, this won't be the route Apple goes with for this edition of the Vision Pro, but if they use it in the future, it could eliminate the need for the custom Zeiss inserts.

Apple Vision Pro apps and visionOS

Apple Vision Pro at WWDC 2023

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Vision Pro wasn't the only new product introduced by Apple at WWDC. It also introduced visionOS, a brand new operating system specifically designed for the Vision Pro. It allows developers to build apps natively for the mixed reality headset and introduces some new features as well.

The biggest new feature? EyeSight. We've talked about it already, but EyeSight could either be the coolest thing or the creepiest thing about the Vision Pro headset. It displays your eyes to the world around you or hides them if you're immersed in the headset. If you are immersed in a particular app or workflow, EyeSight also will bring you slowly out of that immersion and into the physical world when someone enters your direct field of view. As that person fades into the twin 4K displays, your eyes will simultaneously fade in on the front display of the Vision Pro. 

Speaking of immersion, an alleged leak from the set of an unannounced Apple TV Plus show has shown off what looks like a camera designed for capturing 180-degree footage. As such, it's been posited that Apple could be making shows or movies that are designed for the Vision Pro and to make use of the wide field of vision the headset could provide. The first of these immersive Apple TV Plus originals could be Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, a Godzilla TV series that was reported shot using the 180-degree camera we had already seen one rumor about.

The Vision Pro is all about staying in the physical space as much as possible, even if you can turn the crown on the top of the headset to make yourself more immersed in the virtual world. And visionOS works on the assumption of coexisting with your physical space. It creates a 3D user interface that responds to natural light and casts shadows and allows for apps to be expanded and moved with just a hand gesture.

Reportedly, a "Visual Search" feature will let Vision Pro users get information about objects in the real world and serve up text about those items in front of their eyes. From there, they can copy and paste the text into various apps, as well as translate that text into 17 different languages. 

Speaking of apps, the Apple Vision Pro should come with a surprising amount out of the box. While native visionOS apps are still relatively few and far between, the mixed reality headset works with iOS and iPad OS apps as well to provide you with a ton of options all in one App Store.

Netflix is one example of a popular service that will be skipping the native VisionOS treatment, and leaving users to watch content on the native iPad app instead.

Apple showed off a few examples of how these apps operate on the Vision Pro. Photos can be viewed in a massive display right in front of you or in a panoramic view. The Mindfulness app expands into a full-room experience for some meditative bliss. And you can watch movies and shows through Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus on a massive theatre-sized screen. 

The Vision Pro may not be aimed at playing the best VR games, but that doesn't mean you can't game with it. Apple Arcade provides over 100 games — including NBA 2K — that will be playable on day one. And you can even use a Bluetooth controller to play your games since the Apple Vision Pro has no first-party controllers.

However, while Apple hasn't focused on VR games, they do have a partner in getting as many games on the platform as possible. Unity's new PolySpatial tool allows game developers to port existing VR games or create new games, both as immersive experiences or in scalable windows.

Unfortunately, this partnership could ultimately turn into a disaster for Apple due to an unforced error by Unity. Unity recently announced install fees for games using its engine and this has caused game developers to seriously reconsider if they should use Unity going forward. It's unclear if these fees will also apply to games ported to the Vision Pro through PolySpatial, but regardless it's certainly not what Apple was hoping for when it joined forces with Unity.

Apple Vision Pro at WWDC 2023

(Image credit: Apple)

Aside from games, typical productivity apps that you use on your other Apple devices are available on the Vision Pro too. Safari is viewable in a massive display and you can expand it to see all your open tabs at once. FaceTime is there too, and you can move people's video feeds to one side of your display while keeping other apps in view.

You, however, won't be visible on FaceTime. At least, not the real version of you. Instead, the Apple Vision Pro will create a Digital Persona to represent you in FaceTime that will simulate your face and hand movements.

But the biggest productivity upgrade? You can expand your Mac display into a larger 4K display just by looking at a compatible machine. This wirelessly beams the Mac's display to your headset, letting you view things in the same view as other visionOS apps.

With this in mind the Vision Pro is compatible with Bluetooth devices like the Magic Keyboard or Magic Trackpad, though it does have onboard tools to handle productivity — including voice and sight, and a virtual keyboard.

And if you want to work — or relax — on a plane, there's also a visionOS feature for you. Travel Mode has been spotted in the visionOS developer beta, and it is totally focused on the experience of using the Vision Pro on a plane. It does this by toning down or disabling many of the headset's awareness features to combat the fact that you're in a cramped space.

woman using apple vision pro on a plane

(Image credit: Apple)

Travel Mode won't be the only unique mode that the Vision Pro gets either. According to early looks at the developer beta for visionOS, there will be a Guest Mode for the Vision Pro that allows you to lend the headset to friends and family while keeping some personal data secure.

There are also several features we won't get to see — at least for this generation of the Apple Vision Pro. Multiple Mac desktops displayed in the headset, FaceTime with multiple Digital Personas and access to Apple Fitness Plus are all missing features from the Vision Pro that are still planned for a second-generation headset.

If you want to see how visionOS might look, there's an unlikely source. Supernova Technologies managed to get visionOS on a Meta Quest Pro and it's a bit of a shock looking at the new OS out in the wild.

Unfortunately, looking at it is about all you can do. The apps won't work, and you'll need some tech savvy to even get this visual demo working on your own Quest Pro, so it's not the most practical thing to try out for yourself.

One other unique experience that may be coming to the Vision Pro? NBA games in mixed reality. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said “the league is working with Apple to bring a tech-enhanced viewing experience” to its upcoming headset.

Apple VR/AR mixed reality headset rumored specs 

Apple Reality Pro at WWDC 2023

(Image credit: Apple)

We don't know the full spec sheet for the Apple Vision Pro yet, but Apple did confirm some key details.

First, let's take a look at the outside of the headset. The headset features 12 cameras, six microphones and five sensors to allow for eye tracking, hand tracking and voice commands to be all you need to control the device. Then inside the headset is a ring of LED lights that project invisible patterns onto your eyes to assist with the eye-tracking. These LED lights also power Optic ID, which is the Vision Pro's version of Face ID.

Under the hood, the Vision Pro is powered entirely by Apple silicon. An M2 chip does most of the heavy lifting, but a brand-new R1 chip handles the sensor inputs and ensures the display doesn't lag behind. Apple says the R1 chip keeps the input lag of the twin 4K Micro OLED displays at just around 12ms — on par with a lot of the best TVs.

We haven't seen an official storage spec from Apple for the Vision Pro yet, but there is one rumor out there. Reportedly, the Vision Pro could come with a 1TB SSD on board for storing apps, games and more.

Finally, Apple promises spatial audio thanks to a speaker on each side of the headset, near where it connects with your Head Band. These speakers — or audio pods — provide what Apple calls "the most advanced Spatial Audio system ever." The individually amplified drivers inside each audio pod can even be fine-tuned to deliver Personalized Spatial Audio based on your head and ears.

And it's not only the Apple Vision Pro spec sheet that matters here. Apple wants to insert the Vision Pro into its greater ecosystem of devices, so it's potentially upgrading the ultrawide-band chip in the iPhone 15 to a 7nm chip for greater power efficiency when used in concert with the Vision Pro.

Apple Vision Pro battery

Apple Vision Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Here's arguably the biggest knock against the Apple Vision Pro, aside from the other-worldly price tag. While headsets like the Meta Quest 3 are true standalone headsets that can also tether to a PC, the Vision Pro needs to be attached to something to work.

Now thankfully, you do have options. Option one, you can plug in the headset and use the Vision Pro all day long. Unfortunately, Apple didn't say if that works if the headset is plugged into a Mac or MacBook, so the assumption is you'll need to plug straight into the nearest wall. 

If that doesn't appeal to you though, there is an alternative. Apple has designed an external battery pack, possibly called 'Magic Battery,' that connects around the temple of the headset via a woven cable.

The good news? The battery is slim enough to fit in your pocket, at least according to Apple. And it may even come in multiple sizes, as one rumor tips the Vision Pro to get three different battery pack sizes.

The bad news? The only confirmed battery pack lasts just two hours and does seem to be a proprietary charger. Oh, and you may need to buy it separately, which would add to the Apple Vision Pro's $3,499 price tag.

Apple Vision Pro controls

Apple Vision Pro at WWDC 2023

(Image credit: Apple)

While the battery may be one of the lamer aspects of Apple's first headset, the controls are not. That's because Apple ditches controllers entirely with the Apple Vision Pro, instead using the headset's many sensors and cameras to allow you to control the device using just your eyes, hands and voice. Forcing this trend with the Vision Pro could benefit Apple, as it's rumored other VR headset developers are now pushing internally to go controller-free following the Vision Pro's unveiling.

And these intuitive controls are meant to feel natural as well. Apple says all it takes is turning your head to shift the focus of the display, or a simple tap of your fingers to simulate a mouse click. You can even keep your hands in a natural position rather than holding them in front of you when making gestures. Glancing at a search bar and speaking will even allow you to type into the search bar for easy use.

Aside from these new methods of controlling the mixed reality headset, there are two familiar features. First, Siri is back, giving you Apple's famous voice assistant right out of the box. Second, the headset does work with a range of Bluetooth products. In addition to supporting controllers like the PS5 DualSense, it also supports the Apple Magic Keyboard, Mouse and Trackpad in case you don't want to rely on hand gestures or a virtual keyboard.

Apple Vision Pro vs Apple Glass

Apple Glass concept

(Image credit: idropnews/Martin Hajek)

According to reports, the Apple VR/AR mixed reality headset — which we now know as the Apple Vision Pro — was designed to be a precursor to Apple Glass. 

And now that we've officially seen the Vision Pro, it's clear that Apple wanted to have a true mixed reality device rather than a VR headset. The Vision Pro at times feels like an AR glasses copycat, particularly with features such as EyeSight that allow others to see your eyes while you're using the Vision Pro.

Based on everything we've heard, Apple wants the Apple Glass to look and act like an ordinary lightweight pair of glasses rather than adopt the Vision Pro's approach. That means glasses that are able to project information, and presumably imagery, onto the lenses. Unfortunately, Apple Glasses may not arrive for a long time, with Apple reportedly delaying the project due to technical challenges.

Still not sure what the difference between mixed reality, augmented reality and virtual reality actually is? We have an explainer that tells you exactly what mixed reality is and what Microsoft, Meta and Apple have planned for it.

Apple Vision Pro vs Meta Quest 3

Apple Vision Pro vs Meta Quest 3

(Image credit: Apple/Meta)

Both Apple and Meta have announced new headsets touting mixed reality features, but the two headsets are definitely different. Granted, that should be expected when the Apple Vision Pro is nearly seven times the price of the Meta Quest 3, but it's more than that. Both headsets tackle the issue of experiencing mixed reality in notably different ways, and each makes a case for being the better headset for most people. Check out our Apple Vision Pro versus Meta Quest 3 face-off for the full breakdown.

Apple Vision Pro vs Meta Quest Pro

Meta Quest Pro

(Image credit: Future)

The Meta Quest 3 isn't the only Meta headset that Apple has to contend with. The Meta Quest Pro is also a mixed reality headset, with a more professional user base that will definitely be interested in the Apple Vision Pro as an alternative.

And unfortunately for the Quest Pro, the Apple headset is the clear winner between the two — as long as you can stomach the $2,499 price difference. Still, we found seven ways Apple Vision Pro beats the Meta Quest Pro, from superior specs to a better software ecosystem for productivity.

However, the next Quest Pro could be able to give the Vision Pro a run for its money. A new report alleges that LG and Meta have teamed up to make Meta's next "Pro" VR headset. This headset is rumored to cost $2,000 and is currently tipped for a 2025 release date.

Malcolm McMillan
A/V, AI and VR Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a staff writer for Tom's Guide, writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment with a particular focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and AI-based tools like ChatGPT. He has written up much of our coverage on the latest AI tools including ChatGPT, the new GPT-powered Bing and Google Bard. He also covers A/V tech such as televisions, soundbars and more, in addition to covering VR headsets from the Meta Quest 3 to the PS VR2.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.