Vision Pro vs HoloLens

Johnny Reid
Feb 2, 2024

Apple Vision Pro is finally here!

Apple Vision Pro vs Microsoft HoloLens 2

Vision Pro vs HoloLens 2

Apple Releases Vision Pro - February 2nd, 2024

Today marks a pivotal moment as Apple's Vision Pro, a beacon of innovation, lands in US Apple stores. It's not just any launch day; it's the dawn of a new era in spatial computing, welcoming us to experience computing in a realm unbounded by the conventional.

At the heart of Manhattan, Apple CEO Tim Cook and the team rolled out the red carpet at the iconic Fifth Avenue store, greeting a global crowd with open arms and shared excitement. Vision Pro isn't just another device; it's Apple stepping boldly into a new product category for the first time in almost a decade. It's a statement—melding the physical and digital realities to redefine our interactions with technology. Priced at $3,499, it's a premium gateway to immersive experiences.

But here's the thing—Vision Pro brings to the table an unmatched experience. From immersive videos that transport you to galaxies far, far away to a user interface that's as intuitive as it is revolutionary with it's eye and hand tracking capabilities, it's clear Apple's crafted something truly special. Imagine navigating life-sized photos or panoramic scenes that envelop you, or syncing your Mac to unfold a workspace vast as the sky—all with a level of comfort and ease that feels almost second nature.

Yet, Vision Pro steps into a world where the headset market is searching for its footing, and its success hinges not just on its technological prowess but on sparking a broader embrace of spatial computing. As early adopters and developers explore its potential, the Vision Pro sets the stage for a future where our digital lives are more tangible, more immersive, and perhaps, more connected than ever before.

The Vision Pro's journey is just beginning, and as it lands in the hands of eager users today, it invites us all to ponder the possibilities that lie just on the horizon. With every demo, selfie, and shared moment, Apple's not just selling a headset; it's offering a glimpse into a future where technology and reality converge in ways we're just starting to imagine.

Reasons For Purchasing Vision Pro

  1. Innovative Computing Approach: Apple is a master at branding familiar concepts, and with Vision Pro, they've introduced 'Spatial Computing'. This concept, despite its name, offers a versatile device equally effective for immersive gaming as it is for work projects. Apple's clarity in defining the Vision Pro's purpose is a definite plus.
  2. A Fresh Frontier: Diving into a new product category with Apple is a rare opportunity. While virtual and mixed reality aren't new, Apple's take on augmented reality presents a fresh perspective on altered-reality hardware, marking an exciting entry point for enthusiasts.
  3. Intuitive User Experience: The Vision Pro stands out with its intuitive gesture control, thanks to precise eye and hand tracking. Its ease of use in navigating the realm of 'Spatial Computing' offers a glimpse into the future of computing.
  4. Exclusive Ownership Experience: Owning a Vision Pro can make you the center of attention. Its limited initial release means owning one could make you feel exclusive, attracting curiosity and interest from others.
  5. Emotionally Charged Visuals: The Vision Pro's 3D spatial video system offers a unique experience, bringing depth and presence to personal videos. This emotional resonance, coupled with high visual quality, is a compelling reason to consider the purchase.
  6. Leading AR Technology: For those eager to explore mixed reality and VR, Vision Pro could be the best choice. Its superior display technology and adjustable pass-through offer a mixed reality experience that's hard to match.
  7. Cinematic Immersion: Recreating a theater experience at home, the Vision Pro transports you into virtual cinema settings, bringing back the joy of movie-going in a new, personal way.
  8. App Ecosystem Potential: Despite a limited number of apps specifically designed for Vision Pro at launch, the potential for app development is immense, echoing the transformative growth seen with the iPhone.

Each of these reasons highlights the Vision Pro as not just a gadget but a window into a new era of digital interaction and experiences, making it a worthy consideration for tech enthusiasts and visionaries alike.

Apple Vision Pro Initial Reviews

The initial reviews of the Apple Vision Pro highlight its groundbreaking features and potential as a mixed reality headset, while also noting areas for improvement. Reviewers are impressed by its high-quality display and innovative input methods, such as eye- and hand-tracking. They see its potential in enhancing entertainment experiences, like movie watching. However, its weight, comfort, and external battery design raise concerns. The limited field of view and some quirky aspects, like avatar representations, are also mentioned. While it marks a significant advancement in technology, it's clear that it's a first-generation product with room for refinement.

February 2023 Vision Pro Launch

The moment has arrived: Apple is set to launch the highly anticipated Vision Pro headset in the United States on February 2nd, with pre-orders opening on January 19th at 8AM ET. This marks a significant milestone in Apple's foray into the mixed reality landscape.

Priced at $3,499, the Vision Pro headset is not just a technological marvel but also a statement in high-end AR/VR hardware. Apple has also introduced pricing for the Zeiss prescription lenses - an additional $99 for readers and $149 for prescription lenses, enhancing the device's accessibility. The standard package includes 256GB of storage and comes with a range of accessories, including the Solo Knit Band, Dual Loop Band, a light seal with cushions, a special cover, polishing cloth, battery, and the necessary USB-C charging paraphernalia.

First unveiled at the Worldwide Developer Conference last June, the Vision Pro boasts a dual 4K display, allowing seamless switching between AR and VR modes. This functionality is further enhanced by a side-mounted dial. The headset's power comes from a dual-chip system, combining Apple's M2 chip with the new R1 chip, specifically designed for processing sensor, camera, and microphone data. Remarkably, the device supports intuitive navigation through eye, head, and hand tracking, eliminating the need for traditional controllers.

Apple envisions the Vision Pro as a new medium for interacting with familiar apps like FaceTime, Photos, and Movies. The headset also introduces users to spatial videos recorded on the iPhone 15 Pro and offers access to over 150 3D titles via the Apple TV app. This integration is made possible by Apple's visionOS, which is compatible with most iPhone and iPad apps, requiring no extra effort from developers.

The Vision Pro, based on initial demonstrations, promises an immersive and transformative experience. This launch is more than just a new product release; it's a beacon of the growing potential and mainstream appeal of AR technology. With its advanced features and integrations, the Vision Pro could very well be the catalyst for a broader adoption of AR in various aspects of daily life, signalling a bright and promising future for the AR market.

December 2023 Spatial Video Update

The latest iOS 17.2 update brings an exciting feature exclusively for iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max users: the ability to create spatial videos. This innovative feature is set to enhance the way users capture and cherish their memorable moments, with compatibility for viewing on the upcoming Apple Vision Pro, anticipated to launch early next year.

Users can activate spatial video recording in their settings. This feature utilizes the sophisticated camera systems of the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, enabling users to record life's moments in a dynamic three-dimensional format. The spatial videos are recorded in 1080p at 30 fps in standard dynamic range. Thanks to advanced computational videography and HEVC compression, these devices can store these vivid, spatial memories efficiently. The spatial video recording feature makes use of both the Main and Ultra Wide cameras on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max when the device is held in landscape mode.

Experiencing Spatial Videos on Apple Vision ProThe true potential of spatial videos will be unleashed with Apple Vision Pro. Users will be able to access their spatial video library via iCloud in the Photos app on Apple Vision Pro. The device will offer a life-sized, immersive viewing experience with vibrant colors and exceptional detail, making moments feel as if they're happening all over again. With the introduction of spatial video capture on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, users can start creating and collecting memories to fully experience on Apple Vision Pro once it becomes available.

November 2023 Vision Pro Release Update

Apple is said to be gearing up for the launch of its Vision Pro mixed-reality headset in March, as reported by Mark Gurman of Bloomberg. Initial plans had set January 2024 as the release target, but Apple is currently in the process of finalizing distribution strategies and conducting essential device testing.

During the initial announcement in June, Apple had indicated a target release date for the $3,499 Vision Pro in early 2024. In this regard, Apple's timeline for release remains consistent with its earlier projection. Given Apple's historical pattern of hosting its spring event in March, it's likely that the company will leverage this occasion to showcase the Vision Pro.

June 2023 WWDC Update

When comparing the Apple Vision Pro and the HoloLens 2, both devices offer significant advancements in augmented reality technology, but they differ in terms of design, features, and ecosystem integration.

Design: The Apple Vision Pro features an aluminum frame with curved glass and a visor extending from the display to the wearer's head. It resembles ski goggles and appears to be designed primarily for indoor use. On the other hand, the HoloLens 2 is better fit for outdoor or in the field use, with a visor-like form factor that allows for a mixed reality experience. The HoloLens 2 is designed to be comfortably worn for extended periods, with an emphasis on ergonomics.

Features: The Apple Vision Pro places a strong focus on augmented reality, with spatial computing being a central theme. It offers a way to interact with computing UI through spatial gestures, similar to a mouse or trackpad. The headset incorporates features such as physical image capture buttons, a digital crown for adjustments, and built-in audio pods for spatial audio. It runs on Apple's M2 and R1 chip and utilizes micro-OLED displays with an impressive pixel density. The Vision Pro also introduces EyeSight, which uses a front-facing display to create an authentic representation of the user's eyes.

The HoloLens 2 is known for its mixed reality capabilities. It provides users with a seamless blend of virtual and augmented reality, allowing them to interact with digital content while maintaining awareness of their physical surroundings. The HoloLens 2 features advanced hand and eye tracking, enabling more natural and intuitive interactions with virtual objects. It also boasts a wide field of view, improved resolution, and comfortable fit, making it suitable for various applications, including enterprise use cases.

Ecosystem Integration: The Apple Vision Pro is powered by VisionOS, a dedicated operating system designed specifically for spatial computing. While it is built on the same framework as iOS and iPadOS, it introduces new educational features and offers compatibility with existing iOS apps through porting. Apple also plans to launch a dedicated App Store for the Vision Pro, ensuring a curated ecosystem for AR applications and experiences.

The HoloLens 2 runs on Microsoft's Windows Mixed Reality platform and integrates with Windows 10 and the broader Microsoft ecosystem. It offers compatibility with a wide range of Windows applications and services, allowing for seamless integration into enterprise workflows. Microsoft has also invested in developing tools and frameworks for developers to create immersive and interactive experiences on the HoloLens 2.

HoloLens 2 does not rely on a tightly enclosed design and, therefore, do not rest directly on the face. The device is lightweight enough to hang from the headband, and as a true AR headset, it doesn't require blocking out the real world from the user's peripheral view. Instead, it seamlessly integrates with the surroundings, allowing users to perceive both the augmented and real world simultaneously.

It is important to note that for individuals who experience claustrophobia or discomfort, the prospect of having their upper face enclosed within a VR headset may not be appealing. Moreover, the visibility of the display edges in the user's peripheral vision may also pose challenges in terms of comfort and immersion.

In summary, while both the Apple Vision Pro and the HoloLens 2 offer significant advancements in AR technology, they differ in design, features, and ecosystem integration. The Vision Pro focuses more on augmented reality and spatial computing, with an emphasis on user interaction and a dedicated ecosystem, while the HoloLens 2 provides a mixed reality experience with advanced tracking capabilities and integration with the Microsoft ecosystem.

Device Market Overview

Meta and Oculus are focused on the Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) metaverse and fully immersing users’ into the digital world. Apple and Microsoft are not as interested… 

Their focus seems to be in conquering the enterprise level mixed reality head-mounted display (HMD) market–and for good reason. Microsoft sold roughly 200k Hololens 2 units in 2021, with over half of those going to the United States Military. The practical applications for mixed reality are endless. 

Various reports from trusted sources state that Apple has not started prototype testing for its "AR glasses". The report says that P2 prototype testing was expected in the first quarter of 2021. However, it isn't clear how much credence we should give this report. The device that had been set for a 2021 announcement was rumored to be AR Glasses like the Ray-Ban Stories. The device that will likely be announced by Apple later in 2022 will be a different one altogether – a mixed reality headset.

consumer mixed reality experience overlay

Microsoft vs Apple

Microsoft HoloLens 2 and the rumored Apple Reality Pro headset are both advanced mixed reality headsets that offer users an immersive and interactive experience. However, there are some differences between the two devices. The HoloLens 2 is a standalone device that does not require any external components to function, while the Apple Reality Pro headset is rumored to require an external processing unit. This may impact the mobility of the device and limit its use in certain scenarios. Additionally, the HoloLens 2 is aimed primarily at enterprise customers and has been used in industries such as manufacturing and healthcare, while the Apple Reality Pro headset is expected to be targeted more towards the consumer market.

Another key difference between the two devices is their design. The HoloLens 2 has a bulky, industrial look that is more reminiscent of a piece of machinery than a consumer device. In contrast, the Apple Reality Pro headset is expected to have a sleeker, more stylish design that is in line with Apple's aesthetic. This may make the Apple device more appealing to a broader range of consumers who are interested in AR technology but may be put off by the HoloLens 2's appearance.

Finally, there may be differences in the user interface and features offered by the two devices. The HoloLens 2 has a range of built-in sensors and can recognize hand gestures and voice commands, while the Apple Reality Pro headset is rumored to have a high-resolution display and advanced eye-tracking technology. It is not yet clear how these features will compare in terms of functionality and ease of use, but they may impact which device is more suitable for specific use cases.

How will it measure up to Microsoft’s HoloLens 2?

Though Apple’s mixed reality headset has reportedly been postponed to the end of 2022 for announcement and preorders and will most likely start to ship units out in Q1 of 2023, rumors about the new headset show it has the potential to build on the foundation Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 has set.

It could weigh less than 150 grams, according to a research note from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. That would make it much lighter than many other headsets on the market, including the Oculus Quest 2 and Microsoft's HoloLens 2. 

The new Apple MR headset could cost as much as $3,000–a prohibitive price for most consumer markets–which aligns with a headset that targets industrial markets, which are currently owned by Microsoft and it’s Hololens 2. The device looks to use a significant amount of power and will require a 96W USB-C power adapter, similar to current Macbook Pro models. This is intriguing as it compares to the power needed for Microsoft’s Hololens 2, the direct competitor to Apple’s new MR HMD. 

Apple Glass will feature eye-tracking technology, various advanced sensors, and more than a dozen cameras to both track your hand movements and capture footage. The device may also feature an 8K “innovative three-display configuration” combining one AMOLED panel and two Micro OLED displays. If this turns out to be true, it resembles the Varjo XR-3 and differs significantly from its main competitor, the Hololens 2’s, optical see-through holographic lenses. 

The idea is that by tracking the eye movement, the headset will be able to render the user’s environment in increased fidelity. This means that resources like processing power can be channeled more efficiently instead of spread out to areas that aren't being used. 

In a patent titled “Tunable and foveated lens systems” granted on January 11th, 2022 the manufacturer may implement technology in Apple Glass to adjust to correct the wearer’s vision. This system uses a stack of lenses for each eye, allowing for vision correction. The stack could include a liquid crystal adjustable lens, an Alvarez lens or a fluid filled lens. Multiple layers (3 to 6 orientations) of electrodes will allow the lens to adjust light precisely depending on what vision corrections are needed.

apple glass mr hmd rendering

Apple's Mixed Reality HMD Is Facing Further Production Delays...

Apple is doing what they do best–they’re analyzing the market for the best timing of their product launch. Waiting stands to benefit Apple in another way: as 5G networks continue to develop, faster speeds and lower latency will provide a better environment to support AR, VR, and MR. As of now it is still up in the air regarding Apple and their extended reality devices. Will they release their Mixed Reality headset on time? With recent reports citing more production delays; looking like a middle to late 2024 release is more likely.