Vision Pro put me on the MLS playoffs field and it was so real I could almost smell the grass and taste the champagne

Apple Vision Pro excels at something few other devices can do: deep immersion and hyper-realistic experiences that make you question your reality.

I've been using Vision Pro on and off for almost a year. First in a series of all-too-brief demos, but since February I've had one to keep and I use it often, sometimes for hours. 

I've worked in it. I've watched 3D movies. I've tried drawing with it. I've played games, taken photos, conducted eerie Persona-powered FaceTime calls, and rewatched moments in spatial videography. Last night, Vision Pro took me, for just five minutes, onto a professional football pitch (or soccer field for my fellow US fans).

This is not just virtual reality, it's Apple Immersive Video. It's 8K, 3D, 180-degree video, according to Apple, taking the mixed reality headset to the limits of its visual capabilities. In reality, Apple may shoot the video at 8K, but the maximum resolution of the headset is approximately 4K per eye.

Even so, it's a breathtaking, one-of-a-kind experience. Apple's first Immersive Video sports film.

Apple Vision Pro Immersive Video

I’d show you more, but you can’t screen capture any of the video. (Image credit: Future)

Over the years, I've worn multiple VR headsets, including Meta Quest Pro and HTC Vive, and I've watched immersive video shot with specialized 360-degree cameras. It's always good, but usually lacks the visual clarity to make the video feel real.

Apple Immersive Video promises something more. When the company told me they were sharing a short, five-minute video (2023 MLS Cup Highlights) featuring moments from the 2023 Major League Soccer Cup playoffs, I put on the headset at precisely 9 PM ET and launched Apple TV in the headset to be among the first to experience it.

In 2023, Apple partnered with the soccer league to offer MLS Pass on Apple TV, but this video is free on Apple TV and through the Vision Pro.

I've watched my share of sports season highlights reels, but this one hits different. The image quality is so real you want to touch and smell it. Your point of view as players walk onto the pitch feels like walking among them. When confetti blasts into the air after a goal, it rains down upon you.

You might think the 180-degree nature of the film cuts down on reality, but you have to strain to see the blackness beyond the edges of the immersive film.

Everything about the video is so real and unexpected, like being surprised by a woman clapping her hands right next to my right ear, or finding myself standing just behind the net as Columbus Crew and LAFC players scored a goal.

It's also, at its core, still a sports highlight reel, complete with MLS Season Pass broadcasters Taylor Twellman and Jake Zivin offering play-by-play. If there is one criticism, I didn’t always know where to look. Unlike a televised match where the camera follows the ball, I had to look around to find the action. It was a lot more like being at a real game and sitting in the stands or standing on the field.

Apple Vision Pro Immersive Video

The immersion is fairly complete and if you stand up and move around, the video instantly drops away so you can see your real world. (Image credit: Future)

The video also takes you inside the locker room celebration where I swear I was sprayed with champagne. At least, like the players, I was wearing protective eye gear, except mine cost $ 3,499.

I know Apple posted this video to attract new MLS Season Pass subscribers ($ 14.99 per month in the US, £14.99 in the UK) but I think this is much more than a sports video service commercial.

I saw it as an all-too-brief taste of the potential of Apple Immersive Video. I want to see an entire MLS game, or watch live baseball games from the vantage of first base and behind home plate. I would love to virtually sit in the audience at the next Oscars Telecast. Strap me to a skydiver, put me in the Tour de France, take me on a tour of the Colosseum in Rome.

For now, though, there are only a handful of Apple Immersive Video experiences, and none are longer than the 20-minute Alicia Keyes rehearsal experience. I'm not sure why there are still so few or what Apple is waiting for, but more videos like this will be sure to create the intense kind of FOMO Apple needs to inspire new Apple Vision Pro customers.

If there is a reason to spend almost $ 4,000 for a mixed-reality headset, this might be it, at least for experience junkies.

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Windows 11’s next big update is almost ready to roll – but most people won’t get it for a long time yet

Windows 11’s next major update is coming close to completion, and in fact it’s rumored that it’ll hit its final stage of development very shortly – though its launch for all users will still be a good way down the line (we’ll come back to that).

As well-known Microsoft leaker Zac Bowden shared on X (formerly Twitter), Windows 11 24H2 is on track to hit RTM (release to manufacturing) in April.

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What this means is that the 24H2 update is ready to go to PC manufacturers so that they can work on installing it on their devices. In other words, Windows 11 24H2 is all but done at this point, save for final testing and changes that might need to be applied if PC makers run into any last-minute stumbling blocks.

Bowden mentions the ‘ge_release’ which refers to Germanium, a new platform that Windows 11 is built on with 24H2. While this won’t make any difference to the visible parts of the OS, under the hood, Germanium will offer tighter security and better overall performance.

With RTM for 24H2 happening in April, in theory, the plan is that it’ll take two months to finalize the new Windows 11 Germanium build, and it will be installed on ARM-based AI PCs when they start shipping in June.

Analysis: Clarifying the 24H2 release timeline

Note that as Bowden outlines on X, this does not mean Windows 11 24H2 (Germanium) will be released for everyone in June.

It will only be out on ARM-based laptops running Snapdragon X Elite chips (or variants) initially – like the consumer spin on the Surface Pro 10 or Surface Laptop 6. Which is why only the business models were unveiled recently – they have Intel CPUs that don’t need Germanium. Whereas the Germanium platform is actually required for these new ARM chips – which have been stoking a great deal of excitement – so this is why Microsoft is pushing it out ahead of time so as not to hold up those notebooks any longer than necessary.

As Bowden makes clear in a later tweet, Windows 11 24H2 won’t actually be ‘done’ until August, so the leaker suspects Microsoft wants to limit where Germanium is present until then.

What we can surmise from this is that while Windows 11 24H2 will be out on those mentioned AI PCs as early as June (if everything stays on schedule), not all of 24H2’s full library of features will be enabled – presumably.

Whatever the case, the full rollout of Windows 11 24H2 to all users won’t happen until after it’s fully done in August, meaning a September or October rollout to all Windows 11 users. This is the timeframe Microsoft is working to based on rumors that go back to the start of this year, in fact.

The long and short of it is that while Windows 11 24H2 may be ready for RTM next month and on the cusp of finalization technically, it won’t fully arrive until September (at the earliest). And the rollout will be phased as ever, so you might not get it on your particular Windows 11 device until several months after, which is all standard practice.

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Two days with Vision Pro: Apple’s almost convinced me to part with $3,500 by transforming everything I do

Whatever you've heard or read about Apple's new Apple Vision Pro mixed reality headset, nothing quite prepares you for seeing it in person, putting it on, and experiencing for the first time Apple's vision for spatial computing. You realize quite quickly that this is more than a marketing term, it's a new approach to the digital experience. 

I'm still getting a feel for the glass, aluminum, and fabric system but I thought I'd start by sharing my first hours with the $ 3499 (to start), US-only mixed reality headset. It was mostly smooth sailing with one early, albeit tiny, bump in the road.

Apple Vision Pro box

Apple Vision Pro box (Image credit: Future)

A package arrives

January 30th 4:30 PM:

The box arrives! It's large because Apple sent me both the 1TB Apple Vision Pro ($ 3,899) and a carrying case ($ 199). Inside is a tall white box that reminds me of oversized iPhone packaging. I mean, it is different, but also oddly familiar – at least on the outside.

The carrying case looks like it might be more at home on the moon. A covering I initially took for packaging is the case's Apollo-mission space-suit-like material. I quickly put the case aside so I could get to the business of unboxing the fruits of Apple's first new product category in almost a decade.

While it's not remotely cramped, there is a lot in the Vision Pro box. First is the spatial computer itself, nestled comfortably inside with its Solo Knit Band already attached. Every accessory is wrapped in Apple-ly cardboard. There's the Dual Loop Band, which can replace the Solo Knit Band and potentially offer more support for the 1.3lb. headset. The bands are easy to swap but I'm determined to try wearing the Vision Pro with the default gear (though in most of my previous brief demos, I preferred the Dual Loop and wish Apple had created a hybrid that combines the Solo Knit with a top loop band).

There's an extra Light Seal Cushion. They come in a few sizes but I also have to use the thicker one because I'll be wearing the Vision Pro with my optional custom Zeiss lens inserts (an extra $ 149). 

There's a cover to protect the Vision Pro's lustrous glass front, and a cleaning cloth to wipe away the smudges that instantly appear when you pick it up.

There's the battery which is attached to a cable that runs to a proprietary power port on the Vision Pro. While some might think it odd that Apple didn't simply go with a USB-C charge port, I think that would stick too far out from the headset and look more awkward than the battery-power solution Apple cooked up. 

There's also a USB-C cable and power adapter to charge the battery. 

What comes in the Apple Vision Pro box

What comes in the box. (Image credit: Future)

Unboxing Vision Pro

5:00 PM ET

I unbox the Vision Pro during a TikTok live stream. While doing so, I realized that Apple still has my Zeiss lens inserts. Without them, the visuals in the headset will be blurry. I decide to plug in the battery to charge it up while I wait for the Zeiss lenses to arrive. 

In the meantime, I examine the Vision Pro and practice swapping the Solo Knit for the Dual Loop Band. It's an easy process because, like almost everything else on the Vision Pro, the bands are held in place mostly by magnets or magnetized posts. Things easily pop off. I noticed that if I picked up the wrong part of the Vision Pro, the whole light seal would pop off. Again, super easy to put back on.

I pop one light seal foam off and put the thinner one on to see how it looks and feels. The difference between the two is barely perceptible.

6:00 PM ET

Time to take some photos of the Vision Pro

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Apple Vision Pro Review

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7:15PM ET

My custom Zeiss lenses arrive. Now the fun begins. To get started, I connect the power to the side of the Vision Pro. It's a push-and-turn operation, similar to how you might mount a lens of a DSLR. It's easy (very little with the Vision Pro isn't easy). Next, I insert my lenses, which are clearly marked left and right and, like everything else, snap in with strong magnets. These lenses are not going anywhere.

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Apple Vision Pro Review

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Apple Vision Pro Review

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Setup is familiar

Vision Pro starts by teaching you about using Vision Pro (there's also a nice booklet-sized, color manual to help you get started). It explains the eye tracking and subtle gestures you use to control the device. I think Apple did a good job here. 

There are a few steps to go through to get set including making sure the pupillary distance is right (just a press of the digital crown), scanning my Zeiss lens code, scanning a code with my phone to get it properly paired with my iPhone and set up with my Apple ID details, scanning the front and backs of your hands, and the process of staring at a circle of dots (three sets) while pinching my thumb and index finger, which calibrates the system.

The headset also asks if I want to set up Optic ID, which registers my Iris for some security and commerce functions but, though I try multiple times, I can't get it to work.

I start by using  the Solo Knit Band, which means the headset is fairly tight on my face. However, the back of the band is, at least initially, more comfortable than the Dual-Loop.

As with any VR or mixed reality headset, there are prominent safety reminders including, Stay Aware of Your Surroundings, Use in Safe Areas, and Take Frequent Breaks.

It's during the setup that I learn that Vision Pro is not intended for kids, or at least anyone under 13.

Meet my Persona

My Vision Pro Persona

My Vision Pro Persona (Image credit: Future)

You can't get around creating a Persona, which is a digital representation of you that will be used in things like FaceTime and Zoom calls, so you don't have to appear on camera wearing the headset and looking ridiculous (I did this once or twice).

Vision Pro guides me to take off the headset, and then use the system's 3D cameras to capture my face (left side, right side, top, bottom), as well as a couple of expressions. It takes less than a minute for Vision Pro to build my Persona (the system is still in beta, by the way).

I decide to slide the battery pack into my front pocket.

With the questions about transferring existing data and keeping the device up to date with updates, sharing audio recordings with Apple, Apple Pay and Card setup, this is a lot like setting up an iPhone. You go through virtually all the same steps.

I make a FaceTime call to my wife in the other room. Her reaction to my digital persona is not exactly enthusiastic. She calls it disturbing. My son says it reminds him of one of those AI avatars in sci-fi movies that can only answer questions they've been pre-programmed to answer (see iRobot for reference). I ask my wife to grab some screenshots and send them to me (see above).

I think it did a decent job, though Apple appears to have shaved my goatee and fixed my teeth, the latter of which I do not mind.

7:35PM ET

The visuals are still pretty astounding. The home screen floats in my home office with icons sharp enough to touch (I like how some interface elements look like frosted glass – such an Apple thing to do). I use Siri to open Safari. The expert integration of Siri throughout the system is a nice revelation. Imagine if it had worked this well when Apple launched it on the iPhone 4s.

7:50PM ET

Had to take a break because it was hurting my forehead.

The right fit and an endless desktop

Apple Vision Pro home screen

The home screen that you reach by pressing the Digital Crown. (Image credit: Future)

8:10PM ET

Switched to Dual Loop Band. Now that I got the adjustment right, I think it's more comfortable.

I want to play Wordle, as I do every night, but to do so, I must use Vision Pro's Safari instead of the Chrome browser I usually use on my Mac. This means I have to sign into my NY Times account again, which gives me a nice opportunity to use the virtual keyboard. It lets you type on an AR keyboard in the air using your fingers. It's pretty cool, though without tactile feedback, typos proliferate.

My two-factor authentication uses my iPhone, which I naturally cannot unlock with FaceID but, fortunately, my PIN works fine. I never have to take off the headset to see my phone or anything else, for that matter. The passthrough is good enough that I can always see whatever I need to see.

Apple Vision Pro Review

Apple Vision Pro with the Dual Loop Band. (Image credit: Future)

I've been typing on my MacBook Pro M3 and get ready to expand my desktop into augmented reality. Using the control panel, I access the Mac Virtual Display. Vision Pro immediately finds my MacBook and once I select it, the Mac Screen goes dark and a giant virtual MacBook desktop appears floating in front of me. No more looking down at a laptop screen! Of course, I still have to occasionally look at my hands to type. Later when I switch to my real desktop it feels incredibly cramped.

I'm a bit torn about the control panel system. You access it by looking up at a tiny green arrow near the top of your viewport. The Control Center, which is one level down, looks like the one that you'd find on the iPhone but with some Vision Pro-specific touches. I just feel like that little arrow is one of the rare, non-obvious interface bits in the Vision Pro system.

Adding Mac Virtual Desktop to my Vision Pro interface

Adding Mac Virtual Desktop to my Vision Pro interface. (Image credit: Future)

Immersive landcapes and the real feel

8:30PM ET

Have not solved Wordle, which is not designed for this interface but the gaze and pinch system of letter selection works well enough. Itching to have some more immersive fun.

I try the moon environment, which virtually puts you on the surface of the moon. I spin the digital crown to make the environment fully immersive and then realize that by doing that, I can no longer see my keyboard – just my hands floating about the dusty, gray surface of the moon.

I take a break from typing and get ready to sample the 3D version of Avatar: Way of Water….Oh, wait, I have to pay for that. Never mind.

I choose Prehistoric Planet: Immersive, which is just wild. The visuals here are stunning. This is what I imagined when I first started thinking about virtual reality. Having a realistic dinosaur just centimeters from your face changes you.

Vision Pro control panel

Vision Pro control panel. (Image credit: Future)

Perfect for panoramas and meeting EyeSight

8:40PM ET

I switch back to Wordle to give it another shot. I'm enjoying moving things around my endless virtual desktop. 

Do some screen recording, which shows the view inside the Vision Pro, and then I switch to checking out my own panoramic photos. There is simply no better platform for viewing all these photos than the Vision Pro. I have almost 150 panoramic images in my library and I can finally see them in all their vivid detail and beauty. In a photo of a lovely rainbow cresting over my neighborhood, I spot colors I previously missed.

The spatial videography that I captured on my Phone 15 Pro Max looks great.

I leave my home office and walk into the living room. It's easy enough to use the digital crown to dial back the immersion so I can see where I'm going. I sit down on the couch next to my wife and as I start to talk to her she appears slowly, breaking through the immersive landscape as if coming through a fog. On her side, she can see my “eyes” in the Vision Pro's front display. I could almost hear the air quotes in her voice. She did not love the look of Vision Pro Eyesight, which creates a simulacrum of my eyes and their movements based on what the internal cameras can see.

Vision Pro EyeSight in action

The view of my Vision Pro EyeSight in action. (Image credit: Future)

The home movie house

9:05PM ET

I discover that I can use my MacBook mouse across all the apps floating in my virtual desktop; it doesn't matter if they're native to macOS or visionOS.

While the Vision Pro works with virtually all iOS and iPadOS apps, I wanted to see what the platform could do with apps that were built for it. There are, at the moment, about 20 such apps. I install a half-dozen free ones.

I load up Disney Plus and am even able to copy and paste a password from the Mac Pro into the Vision Pro Disney Plus app. I love how smoothly the different platforms work together.

It takes a beat to download an environment like the Avengers Tower.

9:30PM ET

The degree to which I enjoy watching 3D movies with the Vision Pro surprises me. Watching Doctor Strange Multiverse of Madness in the darkened Avengers Tower environment takes me back to being in a real movie theater. Even though the headset has some heft, I'm noticing it less and less. I'm sure I can handle a two-hour movie in this thing. Where is my popcorn?

As I type this, I realize that my pocket is warm. The battery does generate some heat while in use. Also, I see I'm down to 37% power. Doubtful I'll make it through this whole movie.

Battery life

9:45PM ET

Down to 20% battery life. Movies seem to drain the battery fast.

Found a game called Loona. There's an adorable blue character. When I look at her (it?) and pinch my fingers she hiccups and giggles. It's intoxicating. Loona turns out to be a calming puzzle game that I manipulate by pinching and dragging pieces into place.

I switch back to the movie. What a wonderful experience.

10:05PM ET

Vision Pro ran out of power. The battery is warm. Time to recharge and catch some shuteye.

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Apple Vision Pro carrying case

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Apple Vision Pro carrying case

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Apple Vision Pro carrying case

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January 31, 7AM ET

My goal is to work, play, and learn about the headset all day long. Instead of running solely off battery power, I'm keeping the battery plugged into a wall outlet. This has the unfortunate side effect of doubling the number of wires running near my body. Not a big deal but I can't just get up and walk away from my desk.

Just realized I never finished Wordle. Oh well, there goes that streak.

While I've viewed a lot of spatial imagery through the headset, both in demos with Apple, and during my first day with Vision Pro, I'd never taken a spatial photo or video with the device.

I press the dedicated button on the upper left side of the headset and it asks about location tracking (I set it to While using the App), and then lets you toggle between spatial photos or video with a gesture. I take a spatial photo, which is pretty straightforward, but when I take a video, there's on-screen visual guidance that seeks to keep the view straight and fixed in one position.

The 3D spatial photo of my hand is so good it's creepy.

The 3D spatial video, despite the somewhat annoying visual guidance, looks excellent.

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Apple Vision Pro Review

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Showing your work

7:30AM ET

Noticing that some of the interface text nearest to me and at the bottom of the field of view is broken into two images. Not sure if something has gone wrong with the calibration.

The system just asked me to move the Vision Pro slightly to the left on my head. It's constantly tracking my eyes, so perhaps it noticed the eye-tracking was slightly off. That may have solved my little parallax issue.

Been experimenting with capture. I don't know how to just record my Persona in action, besides having someone else screen-record my call. I try doing it by screen recording the view of my Persona in Settings but the recording also captures all my real-world head movements, making the video unwatchable.

I did just discover that the easiest way to capture a screenshot of your Vision Pro environment is to simply ask Siri to grab a screenshot of the desktop. It works perfectly every time.

7:53AM ET

I experience my first app crash. The App Store stopped responding and then it disappeared. Can't seem to get my virtual keyboard to appear at all in the App Store or Safari.

Answering questions

8:06AM ET

Pull the headset off for a short break, not because I'm uncomfortable but because I want to let the rest of my face breathe.

8:20AM ET

Back in it and the keyboard malfunction appears to have solved itself. Realize that if I make my Virtual Mac Desktop too large and put it too high on the Vision Pro desktop, I'm craning my neck to read what's at the top. Making adjustments.

I haven't spent much time in environments but I think I prefer them dialed in about 50% when working. 100% and I can't see my physical keyboard and the atmospheric audio is maybe a bit too much for the workday.

Someone asks me on Threads if there's a lot of light leakage. I tell them little, if any. I notice just a bit around my nose, but, especially in passthrough mode, your real-world blends seamlessly with the augmented one. It's quite something.

My wife asks me if I feel disoriented when I remove the headset. I don't. Perhaps that's because I'm often using it with the real-world view intact. Still, I think it has a lot to do with the virtual quality and eye-tracking capabilities.

Heading into video meetings that my Vision Pro persona does not support.

Using the Apple Vision Pro virtual keyboard

Using the Apple Vision Pro virtual keyboard. (Image credit: Future)

Ready to game

10:00AM ET

I want to tie off this initial test run with a game. Apple provided an Xbox controller that I should be able to hook up to the Vision Pro and play some Apple Arcade Games.

Turns out there are a lot of simple mini-games designed explicitly for the Vision Pro. I end up playing What the Golf, which takes me a little while to master. Later I connect the controller and use it to play Asphalt 8: Airborne Plus. I find that I prefer these virtual gaming screens as large as possible and often with the Environment immersion turned to 100. I do think gamers who can afford it will come to love the Vision Pro.

Apple Vision Pro Review

Asphalt 8 in Vision Pro. (Image credit: Future)

10:45AM ET

I end up playing for just 15 minutes before getting back to work. I launch Photoshop on my MacBook Pro and try editing photos on the big screen. It's generally a good experience though I do wonder if I'm seeing the most accurate colors on the Vision Pro Virtual Mac Display.

As I'm working, an iMessage alert comes through. I pinch on the floating iMessage icon and it launches iMessage where I can read it in the app. I could use the Virtual keyboard to type my reply, but it's not good for any more than a few words of typing. I want to use the MacBook's keyboard, but since that app is not inside the Mac, I can't. So I switch to iMessage on the Mac for full control and the ability to type on a physical keyboard.

Initial thoughts

Apple Vision Pro

Wearing Apple Vision Pro. (Image credit: Future)

What did I learn from the first two days with Apple Vision Pro? It delivers on its promises. It's versatile and powerful. The eye and gesture tracking is almost faultless. I only had to occasionally remind myself that a hand hanging down at my side would not be seen by the system cameras.

While I'd struggled to find a comfortable fit in some of my demo experiences, the time and space to select my best fit with the Dual Loop Band resulted in long-term comfort. I wore it for an hour or more at a time without any pain or discomfort.

It's as good at fun and content consumption as it is at work. I especially appreciated the Mac virtual display integration, something I now believe could transform my work life. I've always wanted a bigger desktop and now I have an almost limitless one.

For all that, I still don't know if I would spend $ 3,500 on it. The reality is that I don't even spend that much on my computers (if I can help it). Is a device that's equal parts work machine and entertainment room worth those extra bucks? Maybe. To be fair, it's early days and I may have a more concrete opinion when I finish my review.

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Repairing Apple’s Vision Pro headset will cost almost as much as a new unit – unless you do this

Pre-orders for Apple’s Vision Pro have officially opened, and with it, the company has released information on how much it’ll cost to repair the headset. 

Be prepared to shell a ton out of pocket because prices are astronomical if you don’t have an AppleCare Plus insurance plan. According to the official support page, repairs fall under two categories: “Cracked Cover Glass” and “Other Damage”. The former will have an estimated cost of $ 799 while the latter will run you a whopping $ 2,399. As AppleInsider points out, that’s about “70 percent of the price of a new [unit].” Keep in mind that the price tags listed here don’t include shipping or taxes so expect them to be even higher. Additionally, Apple will not fix the cover glass even if the damage was done accidentally. It appears the only damage they'll repair for uninsured owners is manufacturing defects.

Batteries can be serviced too but Apple doesn’t say how much it’ll cost. The only thing they say is that a technician will fix it “for a fee”. Also, it won’t replace a battery worn down from normal use as that type of degradation is not covered by the warranty.

Hope you have insurance

If you have AppleCare Plus for the Vision Pro, costs go down considerably, hardware coverage expands, and you’ll be given access to company experts.

Instead of paying $ 800 for glass repair, insured users will only have to pay $ 300. This covers accidental damage, as well. The same goes for other types of damages. Rather than paying a $ 2,400 bill, the price will drop down to $ 300. Battery service is considerably better under AppleCare Plus. Replacing the power supply will be free, but the battery must hold “less than 80 percent of its original capacity” otherwise the company will refuse.

As for the expanded hardware coverage, authorized technicians will repair accidental damage done to the headset an unlimited number of times, however, it will cost you $ 300 each time. What’s more, technicians will fix damaged accessories like the charging cable for an extra $ 30.

When it comes to the aforementioned experts, they will help you address any issues with the device's software. They’ll answer questions you may have on navigating visionOS, how to connect to Wi-Fi, and help you resolve issues relating to first-party apps. 

Expensive endeavor

AppleCare Plus for the Vision Pro is available as two separate plans: monthly and fixed term. The monthly plan costs you $ 24.99 while the fixed option will run you $ 499 for two whole years. If you plan on getting insurance, you can buy it with the headset at checkout or within 60 days after purchasing it online. So, there is a weird time limit to getting AppleCare Plus, but considering you may be looking at a $ 2,400 bill without insurance, you may be better off opting for it.

The Vision Pro is proving itself to be an expensive endeavor; not just because of repairs, but also due to the multitude of accessories. Extra batteries cost $ 200, travel cases are another $ 200, Zeiss Optical lens inserts start at $ 99, and the list goes on. A holder for the battery made entirely out of plastic is $ 50. Interested customers will need to make sure their wallets can handle such an investment or buckle under it.

If you’re looking for a cheaper VR headset, check out TechRadar’s list of the best VR headset deals for January 2024

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Good luck getting Microsoft’s ugly Christmas sweater for 2023 – it stars Windows XP and is almost sold out already

Microsoft has revealed its ugly sweater for this year’s holiday season – and it’s going to be a real crowd-pleaser for fans of Windows XP.

And there are plenty of folks who regard this operating system as one of the best versions of Windows ever – after all, it’s the operating system that refused to die – so it turns out there’s been quite some demand for the sweater.

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The cotton garment (well, 55% cotton, 45% acrylic) shows a stylized version of the Bliss (default) wallpaper for Windows XP, and it’s labeled as ‘Merry Blissmas’ in the product listing.

The design features the iconic fluffy clouds in a blue sky, with a green landscape underneath, and the addition of an oversized mouse cursor (you wouldn’t want anyone to miss the point of the sweater, now, would you?).

It’s yours via the Xbox Gear Shop for $ 70 (£56 in the UK, and around AU$ 105).

The sweater can be shipped internationally, across the globe, but if you want the bad news, it’s already sold out in the most common sizes.

Small, medium, large, and extra-large have all gone, with only the 2XL and 3XL sizes remaining. You can still request a notification for one of the sizes that’s currently out of stock, mind, so Microsoft will let you know when (or if) more inventory comes in.

Microsoft advises: “Machine wash cold, tumble dry low, and never take off.”

As an added bonus, some of the money goes to charity – namely The Nature Conservancy, which aims to protect our environment and combat climate change.

Windows XP Sweater

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Analysis: Do sweat it

Microsoft’s holiday sweaters have become pretty famous at this point. In the past we’ve had the likes of Clippy last year (maybe a retired Copilot could be on a future sweater, though Microsoft better hope not, with the amount of eggs it has in that particular basket), and a Windows 95 sweater.

Indeed, there was a Windows XP sweater back in 2019 (which was also available in 2020, when Microsoft resurrected some past designs), covered with the ‘XP’ logo, but this take is a bit more subtle – aside from the stupidly supersized mouse pointer, anyway.

If there’s one point of criticism here, it’s that Microsoft should be making more of these garments. They’re clearly popular sweaters, and to be sold out of most sizes already is obviously going to be disappointing for those keen to get a slice of ‘bliss’ for the festive period.

We’re still waiting for the BSoD, frankly (that's the 'Blue Sweater of Death').

Via Tom’s Hardware

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Finally, a good use for AI: Meta reveals bot that can translate almost 100 languages

Meta might have arrived late to the AI party, but the Facebook owner is showing no signs of giving up. This week, the social media giant unveiled yet another AI tool: this time, it’s an ‘all-in-one’ translation model capable of understanding close to 100 different languages.

The new AI model, named SeamlessMT4, was detailed in a blog post from Meta, which referenced the famed ‘universal translator’ trope prevalent in a great deal of sci-fi media; in this case, the Babel Fish from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s a snippet of technology that has long remained out of reach within the bounds of fiction, but Meta considers this to be a vital step in making universal translators a reality.

SeamlessM4T is differentiated from existing translation AI tools since it uses a single large language model, as opposed to multiple models working in conjunction. Meta claims this improves the “efficiency and quality of the translation process”.

The new AI can read, write, listen, and talk – capable of parsing and producing both speech and text. While text and speech recognition covers almost 100 languages, SeamlessM4T is currently only able to generate its own speech in 36 output languages (including English). It was built on SeamlessAlign, which Meta calls “the biggest open multimodal translation dataset to date”, containing a whopping 270,000 hours of speech and text training data.

Speaking to machines

Logo Meta

(Image credit: Artapixel / Pixabay)

Meta has been going pretty hard on AI recently, producing multiple new AI models and even committing to developing its own AI chip. SeamlessM4T is the latest step in a push for language-focused AI use, following on from speech-generating AI Voicebox, which Meta (probably wisely) judged was too dangerous to release to the public right now.

SeamlessM4T (and the SeamlessAlign metadata) will be made publicly available under a research license, as part of Meta’s ongoing commitment to transparency in AI development. It’s a canny move from the tech titan, allowing it to both claim openness and fairness within the AI arena while also ensuring that it can take partial credit for future work done using its tools.

Anyone who follows my work closely will be well aware that I’ve been pretty darn critical of AI since the rise of the seemingly omnipresent ChatGPT. But, as I’ve said before, my qualms are mostly focused on the human uses of AI; I personally struggle to see the value in cramming AI into every corner of Windows, but even an AI skeptic like myself has to acknowledge the huge potential of tools such as SeamlessM4T.

I’ll be honest: despite being a writer by trade, I’m rubbish at learning other languages. That wretched Duolingo owl haunts my dreams, taunting me for my inability to properly conjugate in Spanish. But with SeamlessM4T, I’m envisaging a beautiful utopian future where I can visit any country and speak to any local in any native tongue, with their words translated in real-time by a nifty little earpiece loaded with AI tech.

I’m not crazy about the idea of needing to buy that earpiece from Mark Zuckerberg, but hey – one step at a time.

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Android’s Nearby Share boost means it’s almost a match for Apple’s AirDrop

Nearby Share on Android has received a major upgrade, giving you the ability to send entire folders to other devices.

This feature was recently discovered by industry insider and tech journalist Mishaal Rahman who shared his findings on X (or Twitter, if you prefer the older, less obtuse name). Rahman states you’re able to transfer folders from one Android phone to another as well as to Chromebooks and Windows PCs via the Files by Google app. He says that all you have to do is long-press any folder within Google Files and then select the Nearby Share icon on-screen. From there, you will see all of the connected devices which can accept the transfer. Pretty simple stuff.

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There are some limitations to be aware of. Tom’s Guide states in their report, “Nearby Share has a 1,000-file limit”, so folders can’t be too big. Another piece from Android Police reveals the upgrade is exclusive to Google Files as it doesn’t seem to work properly with Samsung’s own file manager. Files will still be shared on Samsung's app, but it won’t retain the folder structure, according to Rahman.

What’s interesting is there’s a good chance you already have this feature if your device has Google Files. Rahman says that Nail Sadykov, another notable industry insider, claims “the earliest he saw someone mention it was back in May” of this year. It’s just that no one knew about it until very recently. Apparently, Google didn’t give anyone the heads-up.

So, if you have Google Files on your phone and haven’t updated it in a while, we recommend downloading the patch to get the boosted Nearby Share.

Closing the gap

Admittedly, it’s a small update, but an important one as it allows Nearby Share to close the gap a bit between it and Apple’s AirDrop. Android users will save a lot of time since they won’t be forced to transfer files one by one. It’s a function iPhone owners have enjoyed for many years now. It’s hard to say exactly when AirDrop first gained the ability to send folders to Macs. The oldest instance we could find was one of our How-to guides from 2015.

However, Nearby Share still has a long way to go before it can be considered a proper rival to AirDrop. For iOS 17, Apple plans on further enhancing its wireless file transfer tool by introducing new features like Contact Posters for friends plus improved security for unsolicited images.

If you’re looking for other management options besides Google Files, be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best file transfer software for 2023

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Another 2-year wait is almost over for Windows 11 users, this time for Paint’s dark mode

Windows 11 users are finally getting a Paint app with dark mode, as first promised way back by Microsoft – albeit this feature is still progressing through testing for the moment.

Microsoft let us know that an updated Paint app – version 11.2304.26.0 – is now rolling out to testers in the Beta channel, as The Verge spotted. It carries the dark mode among other features.

The Beta channel is the step just before the Release Preview channel in Windows 11 testing, meaning that the dark mode is now coming close to release.

As well as the dark mode – which will automatically be employed if you’ve turned on dark mode in Settings for Windows 11 – the new version of Paint will have an improved zoom feature. The latter allows for finer zoom adjustments, and custom zoom values (alongside the existing preset levels of zoom). Furthermore, there’s a capability that fits the image to the size of the screen (and its resolution) with a click. Nifty.

Analysis: Some swift progress (finally)

The pretty swift progression of the dark mode for Paint in testing, going from the Canary channel at the start of June – which represents the very earliest test builds of Windows 11 – through the Dev channel, and to Beta now, gives us hope that the app will get this feature soon enough.

It’s been a long wait, though – a very long one – because Microsoft actually promised this feature before Windows 11 even arrived on the scene. Since then, there has been lots of clamor to get dark mode added for Paint, but it really has taken some time. At least it looks like Microsoft is sprinting as it nears the finish line.

This isn’t the only instance of a feature taking forever to arrive in Windows 11, of course. Just this week, 3D-style emoji arrived in testing (Canary channel), another feature that was promised for the launch of Windows 11. So, these are both capabilities we’ve had to wait the best part of two years for.

Paint fans should check out some of the mods which have been floating around for the app of late, too – they’re pretty nifty indeed.

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Elon Musk now owns almost 10 percent of Twitter

Tesla CEO and tech business mogul Elon Musk now owns 9.2 percent of Twitter shares, according to a recent schedule 13G filing released by the SEC.

Bloomberg states this purchase was worth around $ 2.89 billion and Twitter’s value in the stock market went up 27 percent on Monday, April 4. Naturally, this begs the question why did Musk make this seemingly random purchase, and what does it do for the platform and its users at large?

Musk has yet to publicly state his reasoning for the purchase but looking at his recent Tweets and his history on Twitter may point to his intentions. After all, Elon Musk is one of the most followed accounts on the platform and has even gotten into trouble because of his behavior there.

Was it pl;anned?

A little over a week ago, Musk posted a poll on his account where he asked followers and users if Twitter adheres to the concept of free speech with over 70 percent of respondents saying ‘No.’ This poll doesn’t appear to have influenced his decision as he already made the filing for purchasing on March 14.

The day after that poll, the SpaceX founder stated that since Twitter is the “de factor public town square,’ its supposed failure to advocate free speech “undermines democracy.” He even pondered the need for another Twitter-like platform, which has been attempted in the past, but few can match up against the likes of this social media behemoth.

Musk is no stranger to criticizing the site, like the time he blasted Twitter for spending time and energy on enabling NFT profile pictures. He also posted a meme that depicted Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal as Joseph Stalin getting rid of a dissident in the form of former CEO Jack Dorsey.

Vocal criticism aside, that still leaves the question of what will happen to users unanswered.

A small piece

It’s not like Musk has total control over Twitter, but it’s difficult to believe that someone would buy almost 10 percent of the one largest social media platforms in the world and do nothing with it. So far, neither Elon Musk or Twitter have alluded to or pointed out any changes coming to the site.

In recent years, Twitter has been criticized for its content and how it polices itself. Some have said that Twitter doesn’t do enough to combat misinformation while others complain about censorship.

We’ve reached out to Elon Musk and Twitter for a comment and will update this post with their responses.

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Microsoft 365 will tell your boss almost immediately if you send an inappropriate message

Microsoft will soon roll out a new system that will help businesses identify inappropriate messages sent by employees over its productivity and collaboration software.

As noted in a new entry in the company’s product roadmap, the Microsoft 365 compliance center will receive an upgrade that will cut the time it takes to identify breaches of company communication policies drastically.

“This feature will reduce the detection to investigation time to under an hour, allowing your organization to respond to communication compliance alerts promptly,” Microsoft explained.

The Microsoft 365 update is currently still under development, but is scheduled to roll out in preview in April, ahead of a full launch in the autumn.

Employee monitoring with Microsoft 365

Unbeknownst to some, many businesses constantly monitor the way in which employees interact with one another over email and communication software.

Part of the justification for this practice, considered by some to be an unacceptable invasion of privacy, is that cybercriminal actors frequently target employees over these kinds of platforms, which can also be used by malicious insiders to exfiltrate data.

Another factor is the opportunity for business software to be used to bully or harass fellow employees, in breach of an organization’s official communications policy.

As explained in a Microsoft 365 blog post, the communication compliance facility tracks messages sent and received over email, Microsoft Teams, Yammer and third-party platforms. Once a message in breach of pre-defined policies has been identified, it is handed over to a designated team of reviewers.

After the Microsoft 365 update takes effect later this year, the time between initial detection and review will supposedly fall from roughly 24 hours to under an hour. As part of the change, Microsoft Teams users will also be encouraged to report “inappropriate or concerning messages” within chats and channels manually, a separate roadmap entry shows.

Although businesses will certainly benefit from the upgrade, it is unclear precisely how Microsoft will manage to cut the investigation time by such a significant margin. TechRadar Pro is awaiting a response to a request for clarification.

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