The Apple Vision Pro's spatial video looks like a game changer — here's why

Apple Vision Pro
(Image credit: Future)

When people start lining up to try and (maybe) buy the $3,500 Apple Vision Pro, they’re going to be initially excited by everything spatial computing enables. They’ll want to experience the new interface and pinch their fingers in mid-air to click, watch videos on a giant screen in front of their face and see what their digital Persona avatar looks like on FaceTime calls.

And by the time the Vision Pro launches — possibly as early as January 2024 — we should also see the first wave of third-party apps arrive. Apple has already teased partnerships with Disney and the NBA, and those will be vital to this spatial computer's long-term success. But there's one experience I think that could prove more satisfying and addictive than anything else. 

This week Apple announced that spatial video capture was now available for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max as part of the iOS 17.2 update. Spatial video enables iPhone 15 Pro series owners to record 3D videos at full HD resolution and 30 frames per second. You'll just record videos as you normally would in landscape mode but with the tap of a spatial video icon first. Your iPhone will then record using both the main and ultrawide camera at the same time, saving the clip as a single file.

Apple Vision Pro spatial video clip of girl blowing out birthday candles

(Image credit: Apple)

Yes, you can view those spatial videos on your iPhone, but they'll be flat experiences. To really see them come to life, you'll have to don the Vision Pro headset. 

Notably, you won't have to send the clips from your iPhone via AirDrop. Instead, everything will just be waiting for you in the Vision Pro's Photos app once the spatial videos sync via iCloud.

Apple says that you can play spatial videos back in a window or expand them into a more immersive view that "that transports users back to each moment in time, like a celebration with friends or a special family gathering." During my initial Vision Pro hands-on demo I was impressed with a few spatial video clips I saw, including friends gathering around an outdoor fire and a kid's birthday party with the birthday cake and candles right in front of me. I could even make out the texture in the icing on the cake.

iPhone 15 Pro spatial video recording

(Image credit: Apple)

The Apple Vision Pro is capable of capturing spatial videos on its own via its onboard cameras, but I can tell you right now I would be made fun of if I tried to wear this thing while singing happy birthday with my family. That's why having an iPhone 15 Pro (or Pro Max) is so crucial — you can record spatial videos without looking like the world's biggest nerd. 

As I think about how I use my iPhone now, I can't help be sucked in when my home screen shares photo memories, whether they be about my daughter before she went off to college or a collection of images and videos of our three dogs playing in the yard. The Apple Vision Pro will take that experience to the next level with spatial video, and I think it will actually encourage people to take more videos instead of just photos when documenting some of life's most important moments. 

When I think about the life events that are ahead of me and my family, whether it be graduations, weddings or just hanging out by the pool in the summer or playing basketball with my son in the driveway, I can think of lots of opportunities to capture great spatial video moments that I'll want to relive with the Vision Pro. 

So yes, the Apple Vision Pro looks like a killer first-generation device. But it's the iPhone that will truly bring it to life. 

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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.

  • sgodsell
    Clearly you never look at any 180, or 360 degree YouTube Videos. Plus there has been 180 and 360 degree cameras that have been on the market for many years now. Apple calls it spatial video, but you can purchase cameras that have stereo scopic views (180 degree view), and then put those videos into YouTube. BTW, YouTube has millions of VR, 360, and 180 videos today.