Apple’s Next Vision Pro May Be Lighter (But Not Necessarily Cheaper)

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Apple’s revolutionary new Vision Pro mixed-reality headset won’t even hit store shelves until January at the soonest, but Apple’s engineering and product development teams are already working on a second-generation model as a follow-up.

Further, while some analysts have suggested Apple may have shelved its plans for a lower-cost version of its headset, it seems that may not be the final word, with Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman revealing that Apple’s Vision Products Group isn’t ruling anything out yet for the future direction of the new mixed-reality headset or what directions it may spin off in.

In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman notes that early work on the next Vision Pro has begun — a headset that will presumably be a direct successor to the model that will debut in early 2024. However, Apple is also said to be “considering multiple options, including a lower-end model and a more powerful version.”

This jibes with several reports we saw earlier this year that Apple had at least two versions of its headset in the works for a 2025 release. Although Gurman’s sources say that Apple’s team is only working on a single successor right now, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t spin that off into a pared-down and more affordable version that would likely be the “Vision” to the “Vision Pro.”

At this point, the “Vision Pro 2” appears to only be on the drawing board, with no indication that Apple is prototyping a new headset yet. However, Gurman notes that Apple’s team is focusing on ways to make the device lighter and smaller than the original in hopes of increasing its appeal to a broader range of customers.

Many of those who were fortunate enough to take the Vision Pro for a spin came away saying that it’s a rather heavy beast, weighing in at around a pound. Apple had an over-the-head strap available for members of the press who tried it out after the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) Keynote in June, and the strap also appears in some of its promotional videos, but there’s no official word on its existence.

Shortly after the headset debuted, Gurman reported that the secondary strap was a last-minute addition to compensate for the headset’s weight, which may understandably be a problem for some people. However, Gurman added at the time that the design had “yet to be finalized,” and in this week’s report heads only that “Apple is considering addressing this on the first model with an over-the-head strap,” which suggests that it may still be in limbo.

Nevertheless, reducing the weight of the headset overall is the better solution in the long run, and it’s possible that it could be one of the most significant upgrades to the next-generation Vision Pro.

Gurman adds that Apple has also struggled to create a seamless experience for people wearing glasses. Opting to partner with Zeiss to sell custom prescription lenses was one way of slimming down the Vision Pro and reducing its weight, but it’s also created a logistical nightmare as Apple now has to deal with “offering thousands of different lens combinations.”

Gurman’s sources suggest that one way Apple may solve this with the “Vision Pro 2” is to ship custom-built headsets straight from the factory, with the appropriate prescription lenses preinstalled. However, that would have the downside of making your Vision Pro a much more personal device that you wouldn’t be able to share with friends and family members. While that tends to be Apple’s approach to most of its products — the iPad still inscrutably lacks multiple user profiles — it’s a pretty serious tradeoff for a $3,500 headset.

Of course, the holy grail of augmented reality is true AR spectacles — the ethereal and elusive Apple Glasses that we’ve heard so much about over the years. Apple has reportedly been working on these for years, but creating true AR glasses — regular everyday spectacles that can show information and project images before your eyes — requires a level of technology that simply doesn’t exist outside of futuristic sci-fi and fantasy movies.

After all, consider how large and heavy the Vision Pro is — and that’s with an external battery pack. It took years of research, development, and engineering to pack all that technology into the Vision Pro, which is massive compared to a typical set of eyeglasses. By all reports, Apple hit a wall last year and has put “Apple Glass” on the back burner until the technology catches up with Tim Cook’s ambitions. While some pundits think we might see a real product as soon as 2026, that seems ridiculously optimistic — and by contrast, one of the really far-out rumors of 2020 sounds even more laughably quaint.

For now, the Vision Pro represents the height of technological prowess in augmented and virtual reality, and that’s a $3,500 headset that’s going to have a niche market until Apple figures out how to make it lighter and cheaper. Fortunately, it’s hard at work on those considerably more achievable goals.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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