WWDC keynote recap: Apple unveils Vision Pro augmented reality headset, iOS17 (watch the replay)

Apple unveiled its vision for how computing will change in the future.

Apple introduces Vision Pro, a mixed reality headset controlled by eyes, hands and voice

What to watch next

On Monday, Apple announced the Vision Pro mixed reality headset during the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

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The headset incorporates both augmented and virtual reality, requiring wearers only use their eyes, hands and voice to control. The headset will launch early next year for $3,499.

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“Just as the Mac introduced us to personal computing, and iPhone introduced us to mobile computing, Apple Vision Pro introduces us to spatial computing,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

The Vision Pro includes a three-dimensional interface where apps appear to pop up within the room you occupy, while also still viewing your surroundings if you choose. A knob called the digital crown, also found on Apple Watch, controls how immersed users want to feel while wearing the headset.

© Apple
Apple CEO Tim Cook unveils Vision Pro, its new VR headset.

The device will also support Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Trackpad for those who want more traditional computing options.

With the headset, users can have browsing tabs arranged around them, stretch screens for a movie theater experience, or join video calls with spatial audio that can mimic an in-person interaction, according to Apple.

The device uses advanced eye tracking to let wearers use their eyes to highlight an app or other field. You can tap a finger to select or flick your wrist to scroll. If you view a search bar, once it’s highlighted, you can speak to enter a query.

What’s different about Vision Pro compared to other VR and AR headsets is EyeSight, a feature allowing other people to see the eyes of the person wearing the headset. When the wearer is immersed in an activity, the headset gives visual cues to others when they are busy. Apple said the feature is meant to keep users connected to their surroundings.

Apple also introduced iOS 17, the next operating system for iPhones. Features will include Contact Posters to give phone contacts more personality, live transcriptions of voice mails, NameDrop for quickly sharing contact information, and improvements to autocorrect for text messaging.

Scroll down for a replay of Apple’s WWDC keynote.

Reactions: Apple meets ‘Ready Player One’

Now that the Vision Pro is here, the immediate reactions on social media like Twitter are the comparisons to Ready Player One.

If you recall, Ready Player One is novel-turned-film about a dystopia where inhabitants seek escape by entering a virtual reality universe.

Vision Pro starts at $3,499

Want to join the future of spatial computing? Prepare to pay up. The headset will cost $3,499 when it launches next year.

Optic ID is like Face ID for Vision Pro

The headset will support Optic ID, a biometric tool for unlocking when you use Vision Pro.

How does Vision Pro sound?

The headset will feature a unique spatial audio system meant to convince users the sound is coming directly from the room.

Under the hood of Vision Pro

The front of the product is a single piece of glass providing a view for the user along with a series of cameras. The digital crown controls how immersed you want to be in the environment. Apple said it studied thousand of heads to create a modular system to make sure it can fit any wearer. Like other headsets, it includes an adjustment dial to customize fit.

Mickey Mouse meets Vision Pro

Disney is among the partners on board with Vision Pro, providing a preview of entertainment experiences on the headset. A teaser shows experiences such as courtside replays of NBA games and bringing Disney World into your living room. Disney Plus will appear when the Vision Pro launches, said Disney CEO Bob Iger.

How you view photos and videos in Vision Pro?

Users can display photos as big as your room, and panoromas can expand and wrap around you, providing a lifelike view. The headset has a camera, too, to capture moments while wearing the device. Video views and cinema environments provide movie theater style vibes, according to Apple. The headset will allow for 3D movies, too.

How you browse the web in Vision Pro

So how exactly do apps work? With Safari, you arrange the tabs all around you. For example, you might have one tab when you look left, and others when you look right. But while the tabs are open, you can still see others around you. Accessories are supported with the headset, including mouse and keyboard.

What Apple Vision Pro interface looks like

Apple’s demo shows the user viewing apps that show up right in the room. The headset includes a digital crown like the Apple Watch, and it appears tethered instead of operating independently, although it’s not clear what device connects to the headset. The headset itself looks sleek. You use your eyes to move to different apps, while using your hands to scroll or select. The headset supports voice, too. Just look at the search bar, then speak your query. Vision Pro will also display your eyes when wearing the headset through an EyeSight feature. It’s a clear blend of VR and AR.

Apple introduces Vision Pro, a new AR headset

And here comes the mixed reality headset. Apple unveils Vision Pro. Using eyes, head and voice, you control apps and other tools. You can also see through the headset like you’re wearing glasses, but apps appear in your environment like augmented reality. “Vision Pro will introduce us to spatial computing,” said Cook, comparing it to how the Mac and iPhone revolutionized technology.

Apple Watch will add mental, vision health features

The smartwatch will leverage the Mindfulness app to describe how you’re feeling, ranging from very unpleasant to very pleasant. The health app will also include standardized assessments you might take at a doctor’s office to determine your state of mind, and whether you should contact a medical professional. If you’re a parent, you can use Apple Watch to measure how much time they spend in daylight. Apple devices will also offer a Screen Distance feature to alert users if they’re holding screens too close.

WatchOS 10: The latest updates

Even more widgets, readers! When using fun faces like Portraits, you can use the digital crown to pull up widgets quickly with simple details like weather or timers. Apps have been redesigned, such as World Clock, which has dynamic colors that change depending on time of day. The Activity app has been tweaked with a new trophy case and more full screen views. Third-party apps will see new changes such as the NBA app, which provides more in-game information beyond score (finally). Also debuting on the Apple Watch later this year: Snoopy and Woodstock.

The Watch will soon get several new feature to accommodate cyclists, such as new ways to measure cadence and a new view for monitoring your progress during a ride. Compass and Maps apps will get updates to help hiking lovers.

Apple TV is adding FaceTime

Big update to Apple TV: The FaceTime app will be available, so you can view and participate in calls right on your TV. Users can also use services like SharePlay to watch TV shows or movies with friends. You can also soon take Zoom calls through your TV.

AirPods Pro will add Adaptive Audio

An update to AirPods Pro will support Adaptive Audio, which combines the noise cancelling and passthrough modes to fit your environment. A speaking feature will automatically lower the audio from AirPods when it recognizes you speaking to others. Automatic switching has improved, too, so it happens more quickly.

What’s new with Mac browser Safari?

Private browsing is updated to lock browser windows, blocks trackers for loading and remove any URL trackers. Passwords and passkeys will soon be easier to share with important people in your file. Profiles allow people to create different identities to separate histories, such as work versus personal profiles. Users can also create Web apps from pages.

What updates are coming to macOS Sonoma?

The next release, named Sonoma, is focused on improving productivity, said Federighi. Apple sure loves its widgets, because they’re letting users add them directly to the screen instead of popping into view. When you open an app, widgets will fade in the background, and they adjust depending on the background of your desktop.

Macs will add a Game Mode to improve latency, and developers will get better tools for porting their games over to the platform. Speaking of games, legendary designer Hideo Kojima confirmed his hit game Death Stranding will debut on Macs later this year.

For video calls, small and large overlays can easily move your video presence throughout a call. There will also be fun video effects such as fireworks exploding in the background if you give the thumbs-up.

A PDF miracle for iPad

Raise your hand if you get frustrated trying to fill out a PDF online. Apple’s answer to this is the ability to autofill fields the tablet will recognize to quickly update. Apple also improved integration between PDFs and Notes, for easier access and collaboration.

iPadOS 17 beefs up widgets, lock screens

Owners of iPad, this is for you. Apple will make widgets more functional, and include customized lock screens similar to the iPhone. Users can also add lock screen widgets. Live Activities such as food orders or travel plans will appear on iPads, too. Apple will also bring the Health app to iPad for the first time.

Dropping the Hey in ‘Hey, Siri’

A small change, but you soon can drop the “Hey” when waking up Siri. Users can simply say Siri. Other new features expected with iOS 17: offline maps, improvements to People albums, and a new Pets album within Photos.

The iPhone will have a Standby mode

New to the iPhone later this year is Standby, which turns the smartphone into a smart display when it’s locked. It can show info like photos, time and date, or other notifications. If you want to use it as a traditional alarm clock, it will automatically dim to low light.

Journal app to debut on iPhones this year

The iPhone will get a new Apple app, called Journal. Users can chronicle key moments in their life with a combination of writing and photos. Your phone will also remind you near the end of your day if you want to start writing.

Your keyboard will become smarter

Autocorrect gets a ducking update (see what I did there). Sentence level corrections can fix more types of mistakes. The keyboard will allow you to quickly revert to your original word if autocorrects tries to fix it when you don’t want it. Predictive text will improve, too, gets Federighi.

NameDrop quickly exchanges contact info

Similar to AirDrop, NameDrop allows people to quickly share contact information. Their info will appear on your phone, and you can select how you want to save details like phone number.

Stickers on Messages get more love

Stickers will get a major update with iOS 17. Users can access Stickers more easily to add to messages. They can also cut out elements from photos and create unique stickers users can customize. Emojis will be available as Stickers, too.

Live Voicemail transcribes on the fly

One cool feature coming soon to iPhones: Live Voicemail. When a person calls currently, the Phone app will transcribe the message after it’s recorded. With Live Voicemail, it will transcribe as the person is leaving the message, so you can see it in real time.

Updates are coming to Messages, too, including location sharing within a thread, check-ins to alert friends or family when you are safe, and transcribed audio clips shared in texts.

It’s official: iOS 17 is confirmed

Apple’s Craig Federighi appears to introduce the world to iOS 17. It starts with phone calls (remember it’s still a phone). You can create special visual identities for contacts and lock screen style posters that pop up whenever someone calls. “They’re going to stand out in a whole new way,” said Federighi.

Updates to Mac Studio

Ternus shifts to the Mac Studio, the company’s supercharged desktop computer. Consumers can now buy a version with the M2 Max chip, which basically means it’s going to operate super fast. Apple introduces a new chip, M2 Ultra, which doubles the performance of Macs running M2 chips, Apple said. It’s clearly aimed at higher level production work such as video editing or audio engineering. Definitely don’t buy this just for email or playing Wordle. Apple unveiled yet another Mac desktop, the Mac Pro with M2 Ultra.

All the big performance on the desktops come at a price. The Mac Studio starts at $1,999, while the Mac Pro starts at $6,999. A budget buster for sure.

Apple announces 15-inch MacBook Air at $1,299

We start WWDC with fresh hardware. John Ternus, Apple’s senior VP for hardware engineering on Macs, joins to introduce a version of MacBook Air with a 15-inch screen. It’s available in four finishes, MagSafe charging, and 1080p camera for video calls. The laptop has six speakers, and supports Apple’s in-house M2 processing chip. The revamped laptop also boasts 18 hours of battery life. It starts at $1,299, and is available next week. Also, the 13-inch model will see a discount down to $1,099.

Let Apple WWDC begin

Apple CEO Tim Cook kicks off the conference in front of giant rainbow arches right outside Apple Park. Cook notes this year marks the 15th anniversary of the App Store. Cook also said the company is committed to helping developers with the tools to help them do their best work.

What time does WWDC start?

The conference begins with a keynote address starting at 1 p.m. ET.

How to watch WWDC keynote?

The keynote is available to watch through Apple’s website, or on the Apple TV app. In previous years, Apple has also streamed its keynote on YouTube.

What are Apple’s plans with AI?

Apple is one of the few tech companies that has remained quiet on artificial intelligence, as services like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard start to infiltrate the space.

That should change Monday, said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives. Apple is expected to discuss its plans and strategy for AI during the keynote.

“We expect Apple to head down the path to have its own AI driven solution that will be integrated within the Apple ecosystem and enable consumers to further tap into their iOS data, video, music, applications, and Apple devices through next generation AI capabilities,” Ives said.

When will we see iPhone 15?

The announcement of a new iOS brings us closer to a new iPhone. So when will we see iPhone 15 (granted they stay with the naming convention)?

Don’t expect an announcement Monday. Apple saves it for its big iPhone event in September. Typically the new iPhone launches in September, roughly two weeks after its signature fall event. Last year, Apple held its iPhone event September 7, then launched iPhone 14 on September 16.

Can Apple’s mixed reality headset break through?

The journey of the VR headset has felt like a rollercoaster ride. There was the initial buzz when the first headsets made their debuts. But the devices didn’t take off like smartphones due to factors such as pricing and the fact that many headsets were tethered to a PC or other device to function.

Facebook parent Meta has seen some success with its Quest line of VR headsets by making them more affordable and allowing them to operate independently.

Expect Apple’s rumored headset to remain a niche product for a while, said Forrester analyst Thomas Husson. The more important priority is creating an ecosystem capable of creating unique AR and VR experiences.

“Let’s not forget the iPhone and Apple Watch experiences were not built overnight but took a couple of years to scale,” Husson said.

What to expect from iOS 17

Among the rumored features is a new smart display that functions similarly a smart home device with screen like Amazon’s Echo Show. When the iPhone is placed in landscape mode (horizontally), it will show specific notifications when the screen is locked, reports Bloomberg. The update will also add a journaling app to update friends and take notes, said the report.

More on Apple’s mixed reality headset

According to Bloomberg, Apple will roll out its headset combining augmented and virtual realities during the keynote. The device will be named either Reality Pro or XR Pro, said the report, and cost around $3,000.

The headset will support VR as well as offer a pass-through mode to add AR elements, said the report. The device is meant for tasks such as communication, watching videos or playing games, the report said.

What to expect at WWDC

The main purpose of the conference is to introduce developers to new versions of software for the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. Prepare to see not just iOS 17, but fresh versions of iPadOS, watchOS and macOS.

Although Apple typically reserves many of its big hardware announcements for its iPhone event in September, this year could be different. Monday could mark the debut of Apple’s long-rumored mixed reality headset.

What devices will be compatible with iOS 17?

The next iOS isn’t just for new iPhone owners. Like previous releases, iOS 17 will be available on multiple iPhone models released over the past couple years. Support for iOS 16 stretches all the way back to the iPhone 8, released in 2017. However, if you are still hanging on to an iPhone 8, it’s possible it gets cut out from this year’s release.

When will iOS 17 come out?

The keynote is typically when Apple not only unveils the next iOS but details on its launch. The arrival of iOS 17 is timed to the launch of the next iPhone, so the next update will likely debut in September a couple days before the new smartphone is available in stores.

Last year, Apple released iOS 16 on September 12, four days before the launch of iPhone 14.

What does WWDC stand for?

The annual Worldwide Developers Conference is a week-long gathering of developers of applications for Apple products including the iPhone, Mac, and iPad to connect with fellow developers and discover new tools for creating apps. The conference is free for all developers.

The conference had previously been hosted at a convention center in San Francisco before the COVID-19 pandemic transformed it to a virtual experience in 2020. This year, Apple will host a special in-person experience Monday at its Apple Park headquarters.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: WWDC keynote recap: Apple unveils Vision Pro augmented reality headset, iOS17 (watch the replay)

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