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There’s a reason why Apple often provides vague timelines for its product releases, especially when it’s introducing bleeding-edge technology like the upcoming Apple Vision Pro headset.
When Apple unveiled the new headset at its June Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), it said only that it was coming “early next year.” Even at the time, we questioned precisely what Apple meant by “early” and figured that we shouldn’t get our hopes up for a January release. However, as new Vision Pro-specific features like Spatial Video Recording for the iPhone 15 Pro began to appear, we wondered if we were being a bit pessimistic.
Now, it turns out that the truth is somewhere in the middle. If the latest reports are true, Apple was indeed aiming for a January 2024 release of the Vision Pro, but that was an optimistic estimate on the company’s part — and it clearly knew that it should hedge its bets by avoiding any specific release date promises.
In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman notes that Apple initially planned for its headset to make a big early 2024 splash by landing in January, but it turns out that schedule will likely slip into March — a timeframe that’s more typical of an “early” annual release for the company.
That’s not to say that the Vision Pro isn’t ready from a technology perspective. After all, Apple has already been sending out units to qualifying developers to test their apps with — although getting one requires running your office like a top-secret government lab.
However, there’s much more to getting the Vision Pro headset ready for launch than just ensuring the hardware is ready. Beyond final device testing, there are production and manufacturing schedules to arrange, distribution plans to get the headset into stores, and ensuring the stores are ready and staff are properly trained to sell such a unique product.
Recent Vision OS betas suggest that the software is still on target since many of the final touches, such as onboarding tutorials for new users, have now been added into the mix. However, according to Gurman, Apple is still doing final device testing, which indicates that it’s not yet ready to go into full production.
There’s also the matter of lining up the necessary accessories, which include not only optional add-ons like headbands but also the corrective lenses that will be required by any Vision Pro customers who normally wear glasses — something that’s so logistically cumbersome that Apple is already looking at ways to avoid it in the second-generation Vision Pro.
The Vision Pro headset is still only expected to launch in the United States early next year, with other countries to follow later. Further, to ensure that Apple can maintain control of the shopping experience, the Vision Pro will not be sold through third-party retailers.
As we reported in July, Apple is planning a very hands-on approach to selling the Vision Pro, similar to what was done with the Apple Watch in 2015 to ensure customers would get a proper fit. That’s even more important for the Vision Pro since even customers with 20/20 vision and, therefore, don’t need prescription lens inserts still need a proper fit for the best user experience, including a balanced and comfortable headband and a proper light seal around the eyes. The Vision Pro won’t likely be packaged with its accessories; instead, Apple store employees will have the necessary bands and light seals on hand to provide a custom fit for each buyer.
Customers interested in buying a Vision Pro may also be asked to make an appointment via an online website where they can also supply their vision prescription so Apple can ensure the proper lens inserts are ready at the time of purchase. This will save Apple stores from stocking hundreds of different prescription lens combinations.
According to Gurman, Apple plans to sell the Vision Pro at every one of its 270 US retail locations. However, even with the March timeline, it may not have stock everywhere immediately. Apple will reportedly prioritize supplying select stores in major urban centers like New York and Los Angeles first, likely confining sales to the most central or popular stores in larger cities.
Apple may also make the Vision Pro available online before it shows up in retail stores. Earlier this year, Gurman reported that Apple is developing a custom iPhone app for those purchasing online to scan their head and face to determine the proper accessory sizing and upload their vision prescription for custom lens inserts.
[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.]