The Apple Vision Pro Will Launch With Disney+
Disney+ is staking its claim on Apple’s new mixed-reality headset, but we still have a lot of questions.
At the end of May, Disney started to wind down its emphasis on original streaming content, removing dozens of original series and specials from its service. Without the burden of having to pay its creative staff, where is the company focusing its efforts now? Well, it might be something called “spatial computing.”
In a Keynote presentation on June 5, Apple announced a new product: the Apple Vision Pro. It’s a virtual reality (VR) headset that utilizes augmented reality (AR) to lay virtual screens over a live feed of the real world. Apple claims the product line will revolutionize both the entertainment and business worlds, and Disney is getting in on the ground floor.
What is the Apple Vision Pro headset?
Coming in at a pricey $3,499, the Apple Vision Pro is a pair of goggles that combine VR and AR to lay a computer screen on top of your field of vision. It differentiates itself from other VR headsets in a few ways.
First, it doesn’t require any handheld controllers, relying solely on gesture input, voice control, and eye tracking. Think of that one scene in Avengers: Endgame where Tony invents time travel, but imagine he’s wearing his Iron Man helmet the whole time.
The Vision Pro also lets the wearer see their surroundings and displays the wearer’s eyes to the outside. Hypothetically, even though the goggles would cover your eyes, they wouldn’t impair day-to-day activities or conversations with non-wearers.
To Apple’s credit, the Keynote explained how Apple designed the headset with accessibility in mind, including an easy-access dial to scale immersiveness up or down, which almost calls to mind the Nintendo 3DS’s 3D slider. The headset is modular to allow for customization between different head sizes, and Apple is developing optional prescription inserts for people needing glasses. Unfortunately, knowing the company’s history with accessories, those add-ons will probably add to the already hefty price tag.
Instead of iOS or macOS, the Vision Pro will run on visionOS, with an interface meant to simulate a boundless computer screen with movable windows, and presumably with its own version of the App Store. As of the announcement, the only confirmed compatible streaming services are Apple TV+ and Disney+.
Disney+ will be available at launch
Disney’s CEO Bob Iger made a guest appearance at Apple’s 2023 Keynote presentation to announce that Disney+ will be compatible with the Apple Vision Pro when it launches sometime in 2024. However, the sizzle reel he introduced left us with more questions than answers.
It’s not yet clear how Disney+ will integrate with the mixed-reality tech. The concept video suggests that Disney fans will be able to watch their favorite Star Wars movies with immersive VR backgrounds, possibly using a feature like Amazon Prime Video’s X-Ray to learn more about the world. It also shows an ESPN basketball game happening in 3D on a coffee table and some sort of National Geographic underwater experience.
It’s hard to tell what features are actually representative of the product and what is just hyperbole to drive excitement. The ad spot also suggests that viewers can harness the power of Ms. Marvel’s Nega-Band and manipulate the flow of time with The Watcher from What If…?, so we’re taking everything with a cautious grain of salt for now.
It’s also unclear whether this experience will still require a separate Disney+ subscription or whether mixed-reality functionality will be available for all titles in Disney+’s library. Personally, we’d rather the company return the titles it deleted from its service in May and stop demanding higher prices for less content, but we’ll see if these new features are enough to justify keeping the subscription.
What does this mean for you?
With the $3,499 price tag, the Apple Vision Pro will probably be inaccessible to the average consumer. It might be a cool gadget to experiment with for enthusiasts who can afford it, but also keep in mind that it’s a first-generation product. There are probably still a lot of technicalities to work out, although those will be more apparent once the device actually makes it into consumers’ hands.
However, the “Pro” in the product’s name does suggest the development of specialized models further down the line. There are currently four different types of iPad (iPad, iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad Mini), and it’s easy to imagine a similar line of goggles at different price points. The product just has to catch on first—something its predecessor, Google Glass, failed to do.
But if the technology does catch on, Disney+ will be there to make the most of it—provided there are still any shows left on the service to stream.