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Does the Apple Vision Pro do augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR)?

Wait, does the Apple Vision Pro do AR or VR?
Last Updated on February 2, 2024
Does the Apple Vision Pro do augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR)? Image shows the Vision Pro lens front on beneath the PC Guide logo, on a navy gradient background.
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Apple’s first ‘Spatial Computer’ has finally gotten its launch, but many people are still finding themselves questioning if the Apple Vision Pro does augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR). This futuristic device clearly shows us a glimpse into the future, but with its steep $3500 price tag, you’ll want to know exactly what you’re getting your hands on and what experiences you’ll be getting out of it. Apple clearly isn’t putting things in simple terms, so in this article, we’ll break down if the Apple Vision Pro headset will do AR or VR, and address some of the burning questions that you might have about the Vision Pro and what it can do.

Is the Apple Vision Pro a virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) headset?

With functionality that draws on a wide array of experiences, the Apple Vision Pro is not strictly an AR or VR headset, but is simultaneously both. The Verge’s Apple Vision Pro review succinctly sums this up, quoting the device as “a VR headset masquerading as an AR headset”. Technically speaking, the fact that the Vision Pro takes over your entire vision and is opaque to the wearer, with its Light Seal completely blocking out the light arguably defines the device as a VR headset. However, despite its roots being based on VR technology, the spatial computing experience is created by overlaying its interface and apps over your physical surroundings, which is very much AR.

So, the Vision Pro is conceptually an AR headset, but it’s been designed like a VR headset. It combines elements of both technologies, with its myriad of 12 cameras and sensors, including the impressive TrueDepth camera, creating an accurate rendition of the world around you that you can also completely tune out if you wish. This can be achieved not just through VR gaming, but in spatial photos and videos, Apple Immersive Video, and the 3D movies available through Apple TV. As well as a load of compatible iPad Apps, there are now 600 new apps on its App Store built for the Apple Vision Pro that can interact with or transform your surrounding environment.

Really, the Vision Pro more comfortably carries the definition of a Mixed Reality headset, a catch-all term that describes any technology that sits between AR and VR. With its advanced tech, the Vision Pro provides more of a comprehensive mixed-reality experience than the Meta Quest Pro, which garnered a bad rep for its Passthrough AR. Equipped with an M2 chip, a dedicated R1 chip, dual 4K micro-OLED displays, integrated speakers that support Spatial Audio, and its own Wi-Fi connection, the Vision Pro allows you to interact with the real world while experiencing virtual content, or go in the other direction and become so lost in VR that only the cumbersome battery pack and attaching USB-C cable keep you grounded.

Are there any physical controllers included with the Apple Vision Pro?

No, Apple has taken a different approach with this headset. It utilizes hand gestures and eye-tracking technology, allowing users to navigate the device’s interface entirely with their hands, eyes, and voice. You simply have to look at the button you want to press to engage with it. There are still some physical controls on the device itself, such as the digital crown sat atop the aluminum alloy frame that adjusts both the volume and the level of virtual reality immersion.

Can I use the Apple Vision Pro as a regular computer?

Yes, the Apple Vision Pro has computing capabilities, and its own operating system called visionOS. It allows web browsing, multitasking with 4K windows, and even mirroring the display of your Mac with a digital keyboard for increased productivity. However, the limitations of wearing a mixed reality headset, such as neck and eye strain, hold back the Vision Pro from being a full replacement for a MacBook or laptop.

Is the Apple Vision Pro suitable for extended use?

The weight of the Apple Vision Pro may cause discomfort during prolonged usage, and this was a feature commented on throughout Vision Pro reviews and by those with hands-on experience. While it is built with high-quality materials, including metal and glass, users should be mindful of taking breaks to avoid strain or fatigue: the concentration of the weight at the front of the device can be a struggle as its 600-gram form is supported only by the forehead and nose.


The Apple Vision Pro represents a significant milestone in the realm of AR/VR headsets, having captivated the world since its announcement at the WWDC 2023, and being widely considered the most influential piece of tech since the iPhone. Its innovative design, advanced features, and seamless user interaction pave the way for immersive experiences and exciting possibilities. While the price tag of $3,500 may deter some consumers, the unique capabilities and Apple’s renowned ecosystem create an enticing proposition for early adopters and enthusiasts.

As the Apple Vision Pro evolves, the collaboration of developers and the creation of optimized content will shape its future and determine its place in the AR/VR landscape. Now that the device has fully launched, those in the US will be able to go into their local Apple Store to try a demo of this fascinating tech from the future.

Marla writes across a wide range of topics across PC Guide, including AI, PC hardware, and news on the latest tech releases. She's a passionate writer that's interested in the future of technology.