Latest Meta Quest 3 update improves mixed-reality passthrough yet again, and brings more iPhone-exclusive features

A new month, a new Meta Quest 3 headset update. V64 may have only landed (checks notes) 21 days ago, but we’ve got yet another upgrade courtesy of Horizon OS version v65.

Keeping up with the déjà vu, v65 brings with it yet another upgrade to passthrough, which was only just upgraded in v64, which added both exposure and dynamic range improvements, and an upgrade that makes it easier to see your real-world furniture while in VR and MR.

Now, Meta is finally giving players the option to stay immersed in mixed reality through their whole Quest 3 experience. 

Previously, when you were in the lock screen, power-off screen, and a few other important menus, you’d be trapped in a gray VR void. Now, if you're using MR home you’ll find yourself instead surrounded by your real-world space just like you would in any other mixed reality experience.

Sure it's not the most flashy upgrade, but considering Meta’s monthly release schedule we’re not going to complain if some updates are simpler quality-of-life improvements rather than earth-shaking changes.

A Meta Quest 3 player sucking up Stay Puft Marshmallow Men from Ghostbusters in mixed reality using virtual tech extending from their controllers

Mixed reality from start to finish (Image credit: Meta)

Some iPhone-exclusive upgrades 

Beyond better passthrough, Meta has also introduced a few features for iPhone users specifically – perhaps in an attempt to further convince Apple fans they don't need to shell out for an Apple Vision Pro, or wait for the now apparently delayed cheaper follow-up.

The first feature change comes to spatial video. Playback appeared via update v62 back in February, and if you had an iPhone 15 Pro you could upload your stereoscopic videos straight from your phone to your headset using the Meta Quest mobile app.

Now you can upload your videos via any iPhone running iOS 17 or later – though capturing spatial video is still an exclusive iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max feature (unless the iPhone 16 refresh brings it to more affordable models later this year).

Panorama images on the Meta Quest 3 showing a beautiful hillside

(Image credit: Meta)

Meta is also adding better support for still panoramic images. Alongside videos, you can now upload your panoramic shots from your iPhone to your Quest headset via the mobile app.

So, rather than simply viewing your shot on a flat screen, you can be re-immersed in the location where you took it. Again this has to be uploaded via an iPhone running iOS 17 or later.

There's no word yet on when or if these features will come to Android devices, but we expect they will – especially if new Android devices start to introduce camera setups that can record spatial videos.

With a Samsung XR headset – which Google is helping to make – on the way, we wouldn't be surprised if this phone camera happened. But we’ll have to wait and see what Android phone makers announce in the coming weeks.

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Apple’s Vision Pro successfully helps nurse assist in spinal surgery – and there’s more mixed-reality medical work on the way

In a fascinating adoption of technology, a surgical team in the UK recently used Apple’s Vision Pro to help with a medical procedure.

It wasn’t a surgeon who donned the headset, but Suvi Verho, the lead scrub nurse (also known as a theater nurse) at the Cromwell Hospital in London. Scrub nurses help surgeons by providing them with all the equipment and support they need to complete an operation – in this case, it was a spinal surgery. 

Verho told The Daily Mail that the Vision Pro used an app made by software developer eXeX to float “superimposed virtual screens in front of [her displaying] vital information”. The report adds that the mixed reality headset was used to help her prepare, keep track of the surgery, and choose which tools to hand to the surgeon. There’s even a photograph of the operation itself in the publication. 

Vision Pro inside surgery room

(Image credit: Cromwell Hospital/The Daily Mail)

Verho sounds like a big fan of the Vision Pro stating, perhaps somewhat hyperbolically, “It eliminates human error… [and] guesswork”. Even so, anything that ensures operations go as smoothly as possible is A-OK in our books.

Syed Aftab, the surgeon who led the procedure, also had several words of praise. He had never worked with Verho before. However, he said the headset turned an unfamiliar scrub nurse “into someone with ten years’ experience” working alongside him.

Mixed reality support

eXeX, as a company, specializes in upgrading hospitals by implementing mixed reality. This isn’t the first time one of their products has been used in an operating room. Last month, American surgeon Dr. Robert Masson used the Vision Pro with eXeX’s app to help him perform a spinal procedure. Again, it doesn’t appear he physically wore the headset, although his assistants did. They used the device to follow procedural guides from inside a sterile environment, something that was previously deemed “impossible.”

Dr. Masson had his own words of praise stating that the combination of the Vision Pro and the eXeX tool enabled an “undistracted workflow” for his team. It’s unknown which software was used. However, if you check the company’s website, it appears both Dr. Masson’s team and Nurse Verho utilized ExperienceX, a mixed reality app giving technicians “a touch-free heads up display” 

Apple's future in medicine

The Vision Pro’s future in medicine won’t just be for spinal surgeries. In a recent blog post, Apple highlighted several other medical apps harnessing visionOS  Medical corporation Stryker created myMako to help doctors plan for their patients’ joint replacement surgeries. For medical students, Cinematic Reality by Siemens Healthineers offers “interactive holograms of the human body”. 

These two and more are available for download off the App Store, although some of the software requires a connection to the developer’s platform to work. You can download if you want to, but keep in mind they're primarily for medical professionals.

If you're looking for a headset with a wider range of usability, check out TechRadar's list of the best VR headsets for 2024.

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Apple Vision Pro gets new mixed-reality weather forecasts as we wait for more apps

Apple’s Vision Pro is just a couple of days away from launching, and while Apple has highlighted some astonishing apps that are coming to the device, there have also been questions over how many apps will be available for users upon release. Well, we now know that one of the best iPhone apps will be among that number, and it could provide you with a great way to use Apple’s mixed-reality headset.

The app is the ever-popular Carrot Weather. As the name suggests, this app provides you with forecasts, weather warnings, and everything in between. It’s known for its caustic sense of humor – your reports are delivered by a robot whose outlook ranges from gentle to misanthropic – and that’s helped it stand out among a slate of other excellent weather apps.

On the Vision Pro, though, Carrot Weather is going to do something a little different. According to screenshots posted by the M1 Astra account on X (formerly Twitter), Carrot Weather will come with a floating planet Earth that shows the weather at whatever global location you select, as well as mini-games you can play via an tool at the bottom of the app window.

That comes in addition to the range of weather data you’d expect from an app like this, including temperatures, wind speeds, sunrise and sunset times, and more. That information will be displayed in a large floating window that shows far more data at a glance than the Carrot Weather iPhone app is able to do.

As spotted by MacRumors, Carrot Weather developer Brian Mueller said the floating globe would be the “marquee feature” of the app and that “it's just really cool being able to look at a globe floating in your living room.” It shows one of the ways the Vision Pro may let apps do things they never could on an iPhone or iPad.

Is the Vision Pro selling well?

The Carrot Weather app shown in augmented reality using Apple's Vision Pro headset.

(Image credit: Grailr)

It comes as news emerged that Apple has reportedly sold around 200,000 Vision Pro headsets in the first 10 days since pre-orders opened on January 19 (via MacRumors). Given pre-release predictions, that seems like an impressively high figure, but there is a caveat to those numbers.

Analysts had previously predicted that Apple would sell about 400,000 headsets in the entire first year of its availability. Apple tipster Ming-Chi Kuo, meanwhile, forecast that Apple would produce between 60,000 and 80,000 units for the device’s launch, suggesting that even Apple was unprepared for the level of demand.

That said, Kuo also claimed in a later report that Apple sold between 160,000 and 180,000 headsets during the pre-order weekend. That suggests that demand might have slowed in the days since then, as Apple has now apparently hit 200,000 units sold after 10 days.

The big question is whether Apple can sustain Vision Pro demand throughout the year. A large number of those 200,000 sales would likely have come from developers, hardcore Apple fans and early adopters. Will Apple be able to sustain this level of sales going forward, or will interest slowly die off over time? We’ll be watching closely.

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