The first beta of Apple’s Vision Pro headset operating system – VisionOS – has been released, and we’ve discovered a bunch of interesting details about Apple’s VR headset, including what Apple hopes will be the ultimate travel companion.
Apple’s Vision Pro isn’t expected until next year, but that hasn’t stopped Apple from announcing the operating system early so app creators can start bringing their software to the system. As such, when the headset goes on sale, it should have a solid library of content that will help justify its steep $3,499 (around £2,800 / AU$5,300) price tag. But not only does the beta give us an idea of what third-party developers are working on for the Apple headphones, it also gives us a clear idea of where Apple Vision Pro is headed.
Previously (in our roundup of 6 Vision Pro details from the VisionOS beta), it was discovered that Apple wasn’t keen on letting people use its headsets for VR workouts — its guidance to app developers was that they should “avoid encouraging People” move too much. ” Now we’ve learned that the Vision Pro will have a dedicated travel mode designed for using the headset on an airplane (courtesy of mike rumors).
Travel mode isn’t just the typical airplane mode you’d find on a smartphone. Instead, it’s apparently tweaked how the Vision Pro operates so that the experience is more suited to people crammed like sardines next to people in economy class. According to code found in the visionOS beta, the headset will do this by turning off some sensing features and asking you to hold still in travel mode.
Both points make sense. Vision Pro’s sensing feature alerts the wearer if a person or object approaches the wearer while wearing the headset. On an airplane, there are always people around, which can throw off sensors and be a major distraction for in-flight VR movies. As for moving around, if someone is sitting on either side of you, they probably won’t appreciate it if you start waving your arms.
So you won’t get the full Vision Pro experience during the flight, but the idea of making your travels better with VR does sound appealing. The beta code doesn’t go into detail, but we can watch the Apple Vision Pro introduction video shown at WWDC 2023 to see how travel mode works. Long story short, you can use your headset as a personal cinema and enjoy a 4K movie of your choice (which you may have to download before boarding) on a large virtual display – a bigger, higher quality image than what you get on the plane Built-in video screen.
That said, if you don’t want to shell out $3,500 for a piece of travel tech, there are more affordable AR glasses that can achieve a similar effect to the Vision Pro private cinema. The Xreal Air AR glasses (formerly known as Nreal Air) won’t give you 4K vision, and have a few downsides – namely, we think they’re expensive for what you get, and the battery life leaves something to be desired – but if You’re a frequent flyer, these might be just what you need, and they’re only $379/£400 (around AU$570). When the Xreal Beam launches, it looks like many of the shortcomings of AR glasses can be fixed.