I got a chance to head to Apple Park for the launch of the Apple Vision Pro headset where I saw how incredible the hardware truly was in person. Here's what I thought.
After years of speculation and rumors, the Apple Vision Pro headset is real — and for the first time, it's been shown off in public. Immediately after the same launch keynote that was streamed live, invited guests at Apple Park were shown the device.
Seeing the device in person, it looks just as good as Apple's on-screen product renders showed. The front-facing laminated panel of curved glass is pristinely polished and almost entirely hides the array of cameras and sensors that sit just below each eye.
The exterior screen, used for Apple's EyeSight feature that I was not able to demo, swirled around. When up close, you can see the pixels on the external display but a few feet away they become indiscernible.
If you got close enough to see the pixels, you'd certainly be uncomfortably close to the wearer.
Aside from the glass front, the body of the headset is made from a custom aluminum alloy that is lightweight and keeps Apple's design aesthetic. It gives off a mix of an early iPhone and AirPods Max.
On the top-right corner of the headset is a Digital Crown, borrowed from Apple Watch. You can press it any time to take you back to the Home Screen and app picker of the Vision Pro.
Rotating the Digital Crown increases or decreases the level of immersion. You could put a background behind your workspace or you can extend it all the way around you.
The opposing top corner has a second button that is used to capture 3D photos and videos. This is another feature that Apple didn't allow anyone to try.
Apple rather skirted around the issue of battery life during its launch video, but as well as two hours from a single charge, I learned you can also use it plugged into the wall for all-day wear. Though, I'm not sure you'd want to do that.
The battery pack is also made from aluminum with an Apple logo stamped onto one side. Apple said the battery cable is permanently connected to the battery pack. The pack's cable detaches from the headset with a mechanical latch.
A woven cable connects the headset to the battery that easily sits in your pocket as you move around.
Also like the Apple Watch with its quick-release bands, the Vision Pro comes with a headband that can be readily swapped out for different ones. There are already third-party companies making alternatives.
It's made from a single-woven piece and offers plenty of stretch and comfort for wearers. A knob on the back-left lets you precisely control the level of tension holding the headset in place.
When wearing the headset, most of the time your eyes control it. You just look at an app icon to select it, for instance, though you then tap your fingers together to launch it.
The downward-facing cameras make this incredibly natural as you don't have to hold your hands in the air, you can wrest them on your legs or on your desk.
Seeing the Vision Pro up close, it's clearly Apple through and through — sleek, thoughtfully designed, and also expensive. Tim Cook has been promoting the Vision Pro and says that the engineering involved is "mind blowing."
From what I was able to see, the Vision Pro looks like an incredibly well-engineered product. But there's still more I want to test for myself.
Apple didn't allow anyone to test EyeSight, the Mac experience, or capture 3D photos and videos. Let alone what third-party apps will come up with by launch.
Vision Pro certainly has me excited though. It's going to be a long wait until "early next year."