Apple’s iMessage dodges tough new EU regulations – and Google isn’t happy

Apple won't be forced to open up iMessage to rival messaging services, after the European Commission decided that the app – alongside Microsoft's Bing and Edge –won't be subject to tough new EU regulations. And Google isn't particularly happy about the decision.

Bloomberg (via BGR) reported that the inbound Digital Markets Act (DMA), which comes into play in March 2024, will not affect Apple’s messaging platform, nor Microsoft’s Bing search engine or Edge browser, as none of the services hold enough share in their respective markets.

In short, after a probe which went on for five months, the European Commission has concluded that these digital properties simply aren’t a dominant enough presence to require regulation, and therefore they’re flying under the radar of the DMA.

Unsurprisingly, Apple and Microsoft welcomed the announcement from the European Commission. Ducking the regulation obviously means avoiding headaches around compliance with the DMA, and these apps can carry on as they were with no interference.

iMessage updates in iOS 17.2

(Image credit: Apple)

But Google, which has been calling on the EU to make Apple's iMessage play fair with Android phones, is less happy with the decision. A Google spokesperson told us that “excluding these popular services from DMA rules means consumers and businesses won’t be offered the breadth of choice that already exists on other, more open platforms”.

Apple has previously said that it will support RCS messages from Android phones in 2024, a compromise that seems to have worked in its favor with this European Commission decision. But Google and others clearly wanted EU regulations to go further.

The Coalition for Open Digital Ecosystems (CODE), a group that Google helped to set up with Meta, Qualcomm and several other tech giants, also stated that “today’s surprising decision undermines the objectives of the DMA, as well as its potential to improve choice and contestability for all Europeans.”

Analysis: A good decision for consumers?

imessage editing patent

(Image credit: Apple Inc)

So, is this a good thing, a bad thing? Perhaps the best place to start is asking: what’s the aim of the DMA itself?

The Digital Markets Act is all about ensuring that digital markets are “fair and open” to all-comers. To do this, it intends to regulate so-called “gatekeepers” or large online platforms, providing stipulations to adhere to, and various dos and don’ts for them. 

A key part of this is ensuring interoperability with the gatekeeper’s own service, free access to data pertaining to the service, and a whole gamut of regulation, frankly – including preventing companies from prohibiting uninstallation of an app.

After this ruling, none of this will apply to iMessage, Edge or Bing. This isn’t really a great surprise in the case of iMessage, to be fair, because while it’s big in the US, most folks use WhatsApp in Europe, and iMessage isn’t actually all that popular (relatively speaking). 

Therefore, iMessage isn't regarded as a gatekeeper, and thus not subject to the regulations. The same is true of Bing and Edge, which are still leagues behind Google and Chrome for market share. Incidentally, if you were wondering, WhatsApp will be regulated under the DMA.

Woman using iMessage on iPhone

(Image credit: Shutterstock / DenPhotos)

If you think Apple is getting a free pass with the DMA, though, think again. As you may have seen recently, the company is being forced to make some major changes to its mobile operating system. 

iOS 17.4 will show you more prominent options for choosing your default browser and will let you download from alternative app stores (not just Apple’s own ecosystem), for starters – which is all huge, of course.

Similarly, Microsoft has been forced to make changes with Windows 11 for the European market, like the ability to uninstall Edge if you want to be rid of the browser, or to be able to unhook Bing from the operating system’s search bar (and more besides).

So, while these individual apps – iMessage, Bing, and Edge – won’t fall under the regulating hammer of the DMA, Apple and Microsoft’s widely-used operating systems most certainly do.

There’s another specter on the horizon for iMessage, though, and that’s the possibility that this kind of regulation may be passed in the US, where Apple’s messaging app does have a big presence.

Furthermore, there’s already mounting pressure from rival browser makers who aren’t happy about the way Apple has dealt with the DMA here, allowing for the aforementioned greater choice and freedom in iOS, but only in Europe – which means that those browser developers must juggle two different versions of their clients for Apple’s mobiles, not just one.

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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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Vision Pro may have an app problem, with developers possibly unwilling to commit to Apple’s ‘revolutionary’ new platform

When the Apple Vision Pro was first announced, we were told that it would run at least one million apps right out of the box. However, it’s beginning to look like that might not be the case. Now Apple may have effectively alienated and irritated app developers, making them less likely to produce bespoke apps for the headset. Instead, we’re expecting to see ports of existing iPad apps hastily slapped onto the Vision Pro.

The Vision Pro has already been shunned by streaming giants like Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify due to a lack of confidence in the new platform, as well as Spotify’s public distaste for Apple’s “outrageous” 27% commission. According to the BBC, the music streaming service has levied heavy accusations of Apple “stopping at nothing” to protect profits. With all this tension building just before the official launch of the Vision Pro, it’s easy to see why there might be a lack of confidence in the headset.

Other app developers likely share this hesitancy. Many might agree with Spotify’s frustration with Apple’s restrictive App Store policies and fees, especially since the Vision Pro’s success hinges on whether or not it has apps that make it worth buying. Why would you spend $ 3,500 for a device that doesn’t have the particular app you want?

Developers Wrath 

To add to the concerns surrounding the Vision Pro, devs who did not receive a ‘developer kit’ from Apple are now left having to shell out the full price for the headset just to test their apps. Why wouldn’t you just drop a quick port of the iPad app you’ve already developed onto the visionOS App Store and call it a day? 

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman notes that Apple’s initial inventory for the launch sits at about 80,000 units, which sold out within hours when pre-orders went live. If you’re a developer who hasn’t received a developer kit, you’ve got a very high cost of entry for not that much of a user base.

It may seem like 80,000 initial units is a lot, but if you’re going to put money and time into your app to maybe reach 80,000 people who might download it, you’re better off not bothering. To put that number into perspective, analysts estimate that Apple has already sold 20 million iPhone 15 models since its launch in September 2023. Gurman also notes that Apple is only expecting to see 300,000 to 400,000 Vision Pro units sold across the entirety of 2024.

It’s such a shame that Apple seems to be treating developers and streaming services like an afterthought when it comes to the Apple Vision Pro. The build-up to the official launch day has been plagued by more and more unfortunate and honestly confusing news – and just like Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify, many are losing confidence in the headset. It’ll be disappointing if Apple’s promised ‘million apps’ turn out to be mostly quick iPad ports.

It may be the case that the Vision Pro will have to stumble before it can walk, and should it live up to the hype and become a huge seller then we might see developers turn around and commit to developing dedicated visionOS apps. But until sales figures crystallize, it looks like early adopters might have to settle for less.

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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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We may finally know when Apple’s Vision Pro will launch – but big questions remain

If you’re an Apple fan and your new year’s resolution is to save your money this January, we’ve got some bad news: a new rumor says Apple’s Vision Pro headset will go on sale in just a few weeks’ time. However – and perhaps fortunately for your finances – there are some serious questions floating around the rumor.

The mooted January launch date comes from Wall Street Insights, a news outlet for Chinese investors (via MacRumors). According to a machine-translated version of the report, “Apple Vision Pro is expected to be launched in the United States on January 27, 2024.”

The report adds that “Supply chain information shows that Sony is currently the first supplier of silicon-based OLEDs for the first-generation Vision Pro, and the second supplier is from a Chinese company, which will be the key to whether Vision Pro can expand its production capacity.”

With the supposed launch date just 25 days away, it might not be long before we see Apple’s most significant new product in years. Yet, despite the apparent certainty in the report, there are reasons to be skeptical about its accuracy.

Date uncertainty

For one thing, January 27 is a Saturday, an unlikely day for an Apple product launch. It could be that Wall Street Insights is referring to January 27 in China which, thanks to time zone differences, aligns with Friday January 26 in the United States. That’s a much more probable release date, as it doesn't coincide with the weekend, when many of the media outlets that would cover the Vision Pro will be providing reduced news coverage. Yet the report specifically mentions the date in the US, meaning that questions remain.

Moving past the specific date, an early 2024 launch date has been put forward by a number of reputable Apple analysts. Ming-Chi Kuo, for example, has suggested a late January or early February timeframe, while Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman has zeroed in on February as the release month.

Either way, it’s clear that the Vision Pro is almost upon us. Apple has reportedly been training retail staff how to use the device, which implies that the company is almost ready to pull the trigger.

We’ll see how accurate the Wall Street Insights report is in a few weeks’ time. Regardless of whether or not it has the correct date, we’re undoubtedly on the brink of seeing Apple’s most anticipated new product in recent memory.

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Apple Vision Pro 2 leak reveals what’s coming next for Apple’s headset

The Apple Vision Pro hasn't yet made its way to any actual customers, but we're already starting to hear a few whispers about what might be in the pipeline for the second generation of Apple's augmented reality and virtual reality headset.

Sources speaking to MacRumors say that the Apple Vision Pro 2 is actually going to look very similar to the original headset, although there might be changes to the speaker configuration, with a flatter shape on each side.

We might also see variations in the design of the top vents, the report says, with the possibility that clusters of small holes will replace the existing strips. There's also talk of an audio accessory in the documentation, which might refer to an external speaker.

One of the key differences will be to the rear straps, MacRumors says. The 2nd-gen headset apparently has straps that are simpler in design, and “somewhat reminiscent of the flat straps commonly found on laptop bags or backpacks”.

The waiting game

It sounds as though the next model of the Apple Vision Pro is going to retain the external battery pack that the current model has, and MacRumors also says that most of the sensors and cameras will be similar as well.

A compass, ambient light sensor, magnetometer, and gyroscope are specifically mentioned, alongside support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5, and ultra-low latency audio, which is all very much as you would expect.

Based on the information included in this leak, what's known as production validation testing (PVT) is scheduled for 2025, which would mean a release date of late 2025 or early 2026. Of course, all of these details and plans could change over time.

We've previously heard that Apple is working on a cheaper Vision Pro model, but it's not entirely certain if this is it. Other improvements Apple is reportedly considering are to make the next Vision Pro lighter, more compact, and more comfortable.

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Excited for Apple’s Vision Pro? Forget that, rumors have started about how the sequel will be better

Apple is rumored to be considering making changes to the next version of the Vision Pro – still some way off, given the first-gen model is yet to launch, of course – around slimming down the headset’s size and weight.

In Mark Gurman’s latest Power On newsletter (for Bloomberg), the well-known Apple leaker told us that the company is mulling some notable improvements for the next-gen Vision Pro on the comfort front.

Gurman observes that with some feedback from testers expressing concerns about neck strain due to the weight of the headset, Apple wants to make the next-gen device both lighter and more compact.

This may be a key focus for the next iteration of the Vision Pro, as Apple fears that the weight of the incoming first device “could turn off consumers already wary of mixed-reality headsets,” Gurman asserts. The Vision Pro can feel too heavy for some folks, even during shorter periods of use, we’re told.

Reducing the weight of next-gen Vision Pro is the priority by the sounds of it, with any size reduction likely to be much less noticeable (and harder to achieve).

As 9 to 5 Mac, which spotted this, further points out, Apple actually already made the incoming first-gen headset more compact – with a trade-off. Namely, the design doesn’t give room for people who wear prescription glasses to be able to fit those in.

So, that creates a separate issue in catering to spectacle wearers, and Apple’s solution is to implement a system of prescription lenses that magnetically attach to the 4K displays for the headset.

That’s not ideal, though, for a lot of reasons. It’s a headache for retailers in terms of stocking the huge number of lens prescriptions they’ll have to deal with – having to find the right one for a glasses wearer not just if they’re buying, but also if they’re simply wanting to try out the headset.

Another obvious downside is that the owner’s glasses prescription may well change in the future (ours certainly does, repeatedly), so again, there’s the hassle of having to get new lenses for your Vision Pro too.

It seems Apple is mulling the idea of shipping custom-built headsets directly with the correct prescription lenses preinstalled, but there could be problems with that, as well.

Gurman noted: “First, built-in prescription lenses could make Apple a health provider of sorts. The company may not want to deal with that. Also, that level of customization would make it harder for consumers to share a headset or resell it.”

Whether that whole thorny nest of glasses-related issues can be tackled with the Vision Pro 2, well, we’ll just have to see.

Apple Vision Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

Analysis: Long-term vision for success

So, it seems like the weight of the Vision Pro might be an issue from early testing feedback. That said, in his try-out session, our editor-in-chief found the headset “relatively comfortable” and so wasn’t critical on that front. But 9 to 5 Mac’s writer observed that while shorter sessions are likely to be fine, they could “absolutely see getting tired of wearing [the headset] after extended sessions.”

This may vary from person to person somewhat, it’s true, but it sounds like if Apple is indeed planning to make the next-gen headset lighter, the firm is recognizing that things in this department are less than ideal.

At any rate, while it’s good to hear this, we’ll only really know how the Vision Pro shapes up on the comfort front when it comes to full review time.

For us, though, the most uncomfortable part of the Vision Pro experience is the price. Even just looking at that price tag makes our hearts heavy, as we won’t ever be able to afford the thing.

At $ 3,500 in the US (around £2,900, AU$ 5,500) – and remember, the prescription lenses will add to that bill, especially if you need multiple lenses for different family members – the Vision Pro is just too rich for our blood. We just can’t see that price flying with consumers when Apple’s headset hits the shelves next year in the US (in theory early in 2024).

Especially with mixed reality and VR headsets in general being a niche enough prospect as it is. Indeed, Meta’s Quest 3 is so, so much more affordable in comparison, and for the money represents a great buy.

It’s not like Apple doesn’t realize all this, of course, and we’ve already heard chatter on the grapevine about how a cheaper Vision Pro model might be inbound – which more than any other improvement, would be fantastic to see.

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Meta could topple Apple’s Vision Pro headset – with a cheaper device and no controllers

With the Meta Quest 3 virtual reality headset releasing tomorrow, it seems like Meta is looking to follow in Apple’s footsteps with the Apple Vision Pro. In a race to dominate the VR scene, Meta may have course-corrected earlier marketing and design plans for its follow-up headset (currently codenamed Ventura – a slightly ironic name…) in response to the Vision Pro, possibly even removing the headset controllers to reduce costs.

According to Mark Gurman via his Power One newsletter, a person within Meta suggested that Meta “is in the ‘afraid of Apple stage’” and that Meta is investing a lot of time and effort to improve its VR products as well as shifting focus away from the metaverse. 

The Verge notes that Meta’s big goal with the Ventura headset is to cut costs as much as possible and offer a lower asking price for a good headset. The Quest 3 is already much cheaper than the Vision Pro, and according to Gurman Meta may be ditching controller bundling to help cut down the price even further for its next headset.

Does Meta have the right idea? 

Gurman suggests that users will be able to decide to use just hand gestures or purchase the controllers separately. For comparison, Apple’s headset doesn’t actually come with dedicated controllers – it relies solely on gesture controls tracked via its external cameras, although you can always connect a third-party controller or another Apple device (like a MacBook Air) for control input.

If you can throw yourself back in time a little and remember the original reveal of the Apple Vision Pro, you’ll probably remember thinking “surely they’re not charging that much for the headset?!”

So, the fact that Meta is prioritizing affordability with the Quest 3 is a smart move to get ahead of the curve. If the company is able to make the Ventura headset (Quest 4? Quest Neo? Who knows) massively more affordable than the Vision Pro – and ensure that it can perform competitively against Apple's offering – then Meta actually has a very good shot at securing the top spot in the VR world.

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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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Apple’s Vision Pro might be impossible to buy – and not just because of its price

We knew that getting our hands on the Apple Vision Pro would be a challenge – unless you happen to have a spare $ 3,499 (around £2,800 / AU$ 5,300) lying around that is. But even if you're able to afford the super-expensive VR headset you might still be out of luck, as new reports suggest Apple will produce limited numbers this year.

That’s according to a report from Bloomberg, which cites a paywalled Financial Times article claiming that Apple is having to rethink its sales targets for the Vision Pro, as it likely won’t be able to make as many as originally planned. 

Apple had apparently hoped to sell one million headsets in 2024, but sources from Apple and Luxshare, which is currently the sole manufacturer of the headset, say they'll struggle to produce 400,000, while suppliers of key Vision Pro components have suggested that Apple may only be able to make around 150,000 with the parts it's requested.

This follows reports earlier this year that Apple may only be able to produce 300,000 Vision Pros in its first year of sale, and that Apple itself had predicted it would only sell around 100,000 headsets. For comparison, Meta’s Quest 2 sold an estimated 8.7 million units in its first full year on sale.

It's worth nothing that these latest reports are based on uncorroborated leaks, and while Apple may be struggling to hit its targets now, that situation could change, and Apple and Luxshare might be able to speed up production. What’s more, if the Apple Vision Pro doesn't prove hugely popular with consumers, 100,000 units could be all Apple needs to meet demand; low production numbers would only become a problem if the headset sells like hotcakes.

What could be causing Apple’s production problems?

A person touching the Apple Vision Pro's digital crown with their hand

Apple’s VR headset may struggle take the VR crown from Meta (Image credit: Apple)

So how is Meta able to produce millions of VR headsets a year while Apple is reportedly struggling to make a fraction of that? We don’t know for certain, but there are a couple of possible and reported reasons for the Vision Pro’s rumored production problems.

For one, Meta has been in the VR game for a while now, and as a result it has well-established production pipelines, and it also has a better grasp of how popular its gadgets will be thanks to sales data that goes back to 2016, when the original Oculus Rift launched. Apple is flying blind to some extent – this is its first foray into XR tech (a catchall term for virtual, augmented, and mixed reality), and it doesn’t yet know how things will pan out. By limiting production there’s a much lower risk that it’ll wind up with warehouses full of a gadget no one wants to buy.

Also, Apple’s Vision Pro isn’t like other VR headsets – and this isn’t simply because of the ethereal ‘Apple difference’ that makes its tech so attractive fans. The Vision Pro has features we haven’t really seen before in VR headsets – especially not all packaged together. It has dual micro-OLED displays that boast a higher resolution than the current best VR headsets, an outer display that can show off the headset wearer’s eyes via its EyeSight tech, a 3D camera for mapping a person’s face or an object, and a bevy of other sensors to facilitate next-generation hand-tracking, to name just a few.

Cramming all this into the headset is a challenge, according to insiders familiar with the situation, causing the Vision Pro to have low production yields – read: it’s slow to produce, and a number of Apple’s headsets may have defects that mean they can’t be sold.

As we've mentioned, we won’t know how easy it will be for would-be buyers to get our hands on the Apple Vision Pro until it launches sometime in 2024. When it does go on sale, you’ll want to make sure you’ve read our Apple Vision Pro hands-on review, and checked out the competition (like the Meta Quest Pro) to know if you want one or not – as you may need to move quickly if you want to order one before stock runs out.

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