When I get the chance Try the Apple Vision Pro headset Several weeks ago, there was a huge difference between what I wore and the display models Apple is showing.
Official photos and videos showed a sleek, over-the-eyes wearable device that straps around the back of the wearer’s head with a wide, comfortable-looking strap, like a set of ultra-high-end ski goggles.
The version of the Vision Pro I had the chance to wear added something to the physical packaging, a second headgear that went over the top of my skull. It was there to provide extra support and better balance the weight of the headset on my head.
Why the difference between public visuals and private demos? The Vision Pro is still far from complete, demo sessions often use unfinished or in-development hardware, and in the many years I’ve spent reviewing tech products, there have often been discrepancies between our initial look at a new product and the final shipping version.
But that doesn’t address the big problem here, which is that virtual reality headsets (or as Apple calls them, spatial computing) are essentially large platforms that sit on your computer in addition to your displays. Because of the computing power required, they are usually heavy and bulky and the distribution of hardware around the headset must be carefully managed to create a wearable halo that won’t fall off your head easily.
This is why every previous Virtual or Hybrid headphone included some type of top strap in addition to the back strap. This applies to early models like the original Oculus Rift and HTC Vive as well as newer headsets like the Oculus Quest 2. There’s also healthy third-party work in aftermarket accessories for popular headsets, promising heavier straps and better weight distribution.
Some headsets, such as the PSVR 2 or Hololens 2, combine a large back piece that is less flexible than a simple strap with a large, evenly angled forehead piece, nestling the device into your skull.
in The newsletter is from Bloomberg Apple correspondent Mark GormanThe head strap may already be part of Apple’s final design, he says, but it also may not come in the box by default, which would be an interesting option for a device that will cost $3,500. Gorman writes: “To address the weight issue, Apple developed a second strap that goes over the wearer’s head. But the company is considering selling this strap as an additional accessory rather than being included in the box.”
This decision could open the door to more third-party accessories, making the Vision Pro highly customizable, much like other Apple products from the iPhone to the iPad to the MacBook, all with an endless supply of cases, stands, and other extras.
But it also points to the Vision Pro as an incomplete product, and I’ve had a longstanding problem with devices that charge accessories that practically require the accessories to function to their full potential. Some of the cases that come to mind include Valve’s Steam Deck, which really needed a sold-separately (or 3D-printed) stand, and Microsoft’s Surface Pro line, which is built around a premium keyboard cover that the company forces you to buy separately.
The idea that a seemingly essential (if I had to wear it during the demo, apparently quite necessary) head strap would be an extra cost isn’t much of a deal for early adopters, but it also means you could probably give your money to any number of accessory makers rather than Apple.
None of them solve the biggest problem with spatial/virtual/augmented/mixed reality devices. Until we get something closer to the size and weight of a pair of glasses, which was said to have been Apple’s original design goal for this category, we’re still struggling to attach a high-end computer that, in addition to dual monitors, has human-sized heads.
“Typical beer trailblazer. Hipster-friendly web buff. Certified alcohol fanatic. Internetaholic. Infuriatingly humble zombie lover.”