Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) is going on right now, and at Monday’s keynote the company unveiled updates to some of its key computer offerings and to software that runs Apple devices.
Vision Pro, the headset computer that Apple is calling a “spatial computer”, was also on display.
Apple’s latest innovation is Vision Pro
The Vision Pro is Apple’s “spatial computer” because it is designed to be used in the space of the world around us.
And it’s a computer that seems to have revolutionized how users interface with it. In demos that were shown during the keynote, people were shown using gestures to open applications and resize windows. You’ll also use your voice to operate Vision Pro.
But one of the most interesting aspects of the new headset is how you can control it with your eyes.
The Vision Pro has cameras on the outside and inside of the headset, and the interior ones are there to track your eye movement so the spatialOS operating system can respond to your intentions. And because of how our body anticipates, in this case our pupils, the Vision Pro is kind of predictive. It’s like the system knows what we’re going to do before we do it.
Those internal cameras also enable EyeSight, which is the Vision Pro feature that shows people in our space a digital view of our eyes when they’re interacting with us while we’re wearing the headset.
The external cameras collect information about the real world to display in the headset. There’s a dial on the device that you can turn to increase and decrease the amount of real world you see.
Those cameras also allow for 3D video recording and viewing. And for the first while, that’s probably where people will get the most value out of Vision Pro: using the headset to watch movies and television shows.
Much has been made about the $3,500 USD price tag on the Vision Pro, but the truth is this device is not a consumer product. Not yet. It’s first generation hardware that is intended to be used by developers – the true audience for WWDC – to create applications and experiences.
Whether the Vision Pro leads to more consumer friendly pricing and usability will take months, if not years, to determine.
For now, it’s just interesting to see Apple’s take on headset-based computing.
MacBook Air grows to 15 inches, Mac Pro and Mac Studio get chip bumps
Apple also announced updates to its line of computers, including an updated Mac Studio (starting at $2,699) with the M2 Max and M2 Ultra chips, and a new version of the Mac Pro tower (starting at $8,999) using the same chips that can be configured with a graphical processing unit that has up to 76 cores, and a computer processing unit with 24 cores. It supports up to eight displays.
The best laptop you can get also gets a new version in the 15-inch MacBook Air (starting at $1,749). It’s built with Apple’s M2 chip which allows the laptop to be built without needing a fan (due to the efficiency of Apple’s silicon).
Notable updates to Apple operating systems
Every operating system that runs Apple’s devices is getting updated. This is routine, and with every release comes new functionality. Here are some of the things that caught my attention.
- You’ll be able to leave voice and video messages when you call someone on FaceTime and they don’t answer.
- SharePlay is being added to CarOS, so anyone with an Apple device in a vehicle can connect to the iPhone that’s connected to the car to play music or podcasts or navigate.
- Support for external webcams is coming to your iPad.
- FaceTime through your AppleTV box uses your iPhone or iPad camera and displays the output on your TV. And you can use your iPhone to find your AppleTV remote.
- A new game mode will make gaming on your Mac better. Death Stranding, from Hideo Kojima, is being released for Macs. Related: Apple has created a toolkit to help game developers quickly assess how the games they created for Windows will run on Mac so they can determine how much work will be required to completely port over.