Affiliate Disclosure
If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Read our ethics policy.

Why Apple Vision Pro could evolve similarly to the Apple Watch

If you're already wondering when the next generation of the Apple Vision Pro will arrive, and what features it may have, the history of the Apple Watch might yield some clues.

Given the complexity of the Apple Vision Pro, it's very unlikely that a revamped second-gen model will arrive on the original's one-year anniversary. Apple has presented its technical take on the product, but the sales and feedback of users will help shape the next one.

The Apple Vision Pro, like the Apple Watch, is a product that was entirely developed in the Tim Cook era of the company's history. Apple has been conservative about launching all-new products, preferring to iterate on its existing and popular Mac, iPhone, and iPad lines.

That said, the Apple Watch was and continues to be a hit, following some muddled marketing at the beginning. Looking at the development stages of the Watch may provide us with clues on how the future releases of the Vision Pro and its potential offshoots may unfold.

The first generation

As with so many Apple products, the Apple Watch was not the first smartwatch to enter the market, but debuted on April 24th, 2015 as a more fully-formed device. It was originally positioned as fashion primary, and secondarily a sport accessory, a higher-end fitness device to compete with popular step-counters like the early FitBit.

Apple sought to make the device a fashion accessory in those early days, complete with a $10,000 rose or yellow gold version. Apple gifted a number of these to what would now be called "influencer" celebrities.

What really won the public over, though, was its ability to let users handle routine tasks like notifications and quick replies to messages. It was a moment of irony: buy this Apple device to keep your more expensive Apple device in your pocket!

This, alongside the fitness benefits, justified the cost of the device for at least the early-adopter market. The price — $349 or $399 for the two aluminum sizes, and $549 or $599 for the stainless steel models — was higher than previous competitors, but the added benefits justified the expense.

Man answering a phone call on his Apple Watch while in a pool

The Apple Vision Pro, on the other hand, is a single product — with some accessories. It's currently perceived as being expensive compared to most other mainstream Apple products.

For some, however, the Vision Pro's trick of combining the Apple computing experience with its alternate function as a extremely high-resolution immersive entertainment device makes the purchase feasible. Its not just a computer, its a room-sized smart TV with a spatial-audio sound system, and more.

Some early adopters have also reported a significant boost in focus and productivity using the Apple Vision Pro. There is, of course, the near-universal opinion of adopters that you still need a physical keyboard — and a Mac — for the best "work" experience.

The next generation

After the initial product debut and a significant software update to address some initial speed concerns, the next versions of the Apple Watch arrived a year and a half after the first gen. The Series 1 and 2 were released simultaneously, sporting watchOS 3.0 and a new S2 processor.

The Series 1 was a budget model, with no GPS and similar to the first-gen Watch. The Series 2 offered GPS, a brighter display, water resistance, and a choice of casings — including a new ceramic case.

Although the Apple Vision Pro did not have to wait nearly as long for its first significant software revision, like the Apple Watch it was mostly a bug-fix update to address initial concerns.

As with the first Apple Watch, we think it may be a while before Apple releases a "next gen" version of the Vision Pro. While it is impossible to be sure, we would also not be surprised if the next major hardware release splits the Vision Pro line to introduce a lower-priced "budget" model alongside an updated "Pro."

If there were to be a lower-priced model, it would certainly be both lighter and lacking some of the premium features of the Pro version. This could all happen as soon as next year — and if it does, Apple might move the next debut to the fall, ahead of the holiday season as it has with its most popular products.

A picture of glasses looking at a city area with icons and directions in the lenses

The future

If we look to the Apple Watch as a guide, following that initial 18-month gap, a new series of Apple Watch has come every fall ever since. The Apple Watch series 10, or "X" as it may end up being called, is expected for this September.

The current Apple Vision Pro will not be standing still in terms of improvements, just as the original Apple Watch didn't. Further software updates are expected, and some of those changes are likely to be unveiled in June at Apple's WWDC event ahead of a fall hardware release.

Because of the engineering involved and relatively high cost for the Vision Pro, new models will likely not follow the annual hardware change pattern of the Apple Watch. We'd predict that the Pro model, at least, would get new models every other year.

If Apple can produce a "glasses" type device in the near future, such a product could offer an opportunity for roughly annual updates of hardware to reflect new styles as well as new technologies. The future for the Apple Vision line is so bright, we might have to wear Apple Shades.