Microsoft Mesh lets you hold virtual meetings around virtual bonfires

The hype around the so-called Metaverse seems to have died down a bit. Even Facebook, which changed its name to Meta to emphasize its new mission, has been rather silent on that front, especially in light of AI being the hottest thing in tech these days. With the launch of the Apple Vision Pro, however, interest in mixed reality, as well as AR and VR, is once again on the rise. As such, now seems to be the best time for Microsoft to also make widely available its own virtual meeting platform, Microsoft Mesh, encouraging a new approach to hybrid work arrangements that will have attendees “sitting” around digital bonfires or posh virtual rooms, all for the sake of trying to make people feel more connected even when they’re all just sitting in their own homes.

Designer: Microsoft

In order to shake off the image of something only for games and entertainment, platform developers like Meta and Microsoft try to make mixed reality technologies something that’s actually useful for serious business as well. These usually involve providing virtual spaces for meetings, creating avatars that represent employees, and holding more interactive and livelier gatherings that would otherwise be a boring experience of watching people’s faces in a grid of boxes. In other words, they try to recreate the feelings and emotions of meeting in person when they physically can’t.

Microsoft Mesh is Redmond’s solution to this problem. Think of it like a VR Microsoft Teams and is, in fact, integrated into Microsoft’s collaboration platform. With just a few clicks, you can turn a flat, literally and figuratively, meeting into a 3D virtual experience, complete with bars, chairs, fires, and, of course, a screen inside a screen for showing presentations to your team. You’ll have to create your own personalized avatar, preferably something close to your real-world appearance, and you can decorate your spaces the way you want, including company logos, of course.

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Microsoft is leaning heavily on its no-code tools to make Mesh more enticing, in addition to having it tied to Microsoft Teams in the first place. Designing the area is a simple process of dragging and dropping assets as you would in a 3D game editor, thanks to a collaboration with Unity 3D. But if that is already too complex, Microsoft Co-Pilot offers an easier method that utilizes AI to translate your prompts into captivating virtual interiors, or at least the semblance of one. Whether it’s just a simple stand-up meeting that needs everyone to be on their toes, a brainstorming session that requires a bit more creativity, or a presentation that needs to keep people attentive, a virtual meeting space is probably going to help spice things up a bit.

Mesh comes at an interesting time when businesses are actually pushing for their workers to return to the office completely. For many companies, however, hybrid has become an unavoidable and permanent reality, with both the benefits and drawbacks it carries, particularly when it comes to the indirect interaction between humans. Microsoft Mesh is being positioned as the next best thing to support those social connections even when actual physical cues are absent. It’s now being made available for Windows PCs, but those who want a more immersive and convincing experience can enjoy it using their Meta Quest headset. That said, you’ll need a Microsoft subscription as well, so it’s not exactly something that everyone can experience.

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Ray-Ban Meta are a cool pair of AI-embedded smart glasses you’d want to wear often

Meta in partnership with Ray-Ban has launched the second generation of their smart glasses today. A refreshing take on their 2021 Stories smart glasses, these are named more attractively as the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses. The company is refraining from calling them the successors to the first ones, since they were not fancied by the tech community in general.

That said, the new version also comes with built-in speakers and five microphones to attend calls or seamlessly use the voice assistant. Meta is positioning them as a daily wearable to click photos and videos from your eye’s point of view. Pretty interesting isn’t it?

Designer: Meta

They were released during the Connect event and the hardware alone has a significant bump up compared to the Stories smart glasses. There’s a 12MP wide-angle camera capable of recording videos at 1080p/60fps and 32GB on-board storage. The photos and videos are much crisper now, enough for you to stay in the social media limelight. If you want, the recorded videos can be live-streamed to Facebook or Instagram via a nearby paired device. However, in this option, the quality can deteriorate if your internet connectivity is slow.

According to Meta the new open-back speakers are 50 percent louder and leak less noise, so you can keep your conversations incognito. The bass has a thump and the vocals are much clearer which in combination with the spatial audio elevates the listening experience. The design has also got a bump up, as the glasses have thinner arms and the larger touchpad is very easy to use. Tap and swipe gestures for controlling the volume levels and recording videos, make these smart glasses intuitive.

Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses with 36 hours of battery life in the accompanying case look better than most of the other major competitors in the market. They no longer feel like a concept rushed into the production stage and solve the intended purpose.

The glasses are up for pre-order in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia right away for a price tag starting at $299. You can opt for the polarized version costing $329 or the transition lenses for $379. The official sale for the smart glasses available in cool color options will commence on October 17.

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A “Threads from Instagram” App Existed Back In 2019… And It Was NOTHING Like Twitter

Before Zuckerberg launched the world’s most exciting and fastest-growing social media app, he struggled to make Threads relevant. Yes, “Threads from Instagram” was an app that launched in October 2019, but shut down in 2021 following just thousands of downloads and an abysmal performance. Here’s what the original Threads app was all about, why it failed, and more importantly, what it says about Zuckerberg and Meta’s culture of innovation and stealing ideas.

It sure sounds surprising, but not many people will remember Threads from back in the day. I barely remember it too, but it was Instagram’s way of making the network more social again. The team realized that as IG was slowly descending into irrelevance (this was before Reels were a thing), people were mainly using the app to DM each other rather than to actually view content. Nobody was tagging friends in posts anymore – they were simply sharing posts and memes with their close friends, creating a microcosmic network in the messages section rather than in the actual home feed. People loved using IG’s filters too, but instead of mass-publishing their content on stories or on their profile, they were much more comfortable sharing it with 3-4 tight-knit friends instead. Seeing this, Mosseri-led Instagram decided that this was worthy of a new app entirely. An IG without the Insta or the Gram. Just DMs and AR filters… or simply, a Snapchat clone.

This Threads app was also tied inextricably to your IG. In a way, it was pretty much a stripped-down version of IG that just had a camera, AR filters, and DMs… exactly like Snapchat. You could chat with friends or other people on IG, and you could use your Instagram’s Close Friends feature to share videos of yourself or stuff around you with your immediate social circle. The app debuted in 2019, but took nearly 6 months to actually catch any momentum. It barely had any users, and had roughly 2.5k ratings on the app store, making it Meta’s worst-performing app. Instagram finally shuttered it in 2021, but little did Mark and Mosseri know that Threads would have its ground-shattering glow-up just 2 years later.

A screenshot of the original ‘Threads From Instagram’ App Store profile.

It seems like Zuckerberg knew he wanted to make a microblogging platform back in 2021, and Threads was perfect for this ‘phoenix rebirth’. TechCrunch reported in July of 2021 that Facebook (back when it was still called Facebook) was testing out twitter-like features on some public pages. A year later, Zuckerberg made a joke about acquiring Twitter and was legally forced to buy it. The timing couldn’t be more perfect for Zuckerberg, as he saw Musk slowly running Twitter into the ground. Smelling blood in the water, Meta began building out its Twitter clone in January this year, and just as Musk made an announcement that Twitter was limiting how many posts its users could see per day, Zuckerberg forced the launch of Threads in its ‘new app who dis’ avatar. The Threads app caught on like wildfire (even though it was riddled with quite a few dark design patterns), and currently sits at over 100 million users in a record time of 10 days. To give you a sense of how big a deal that is, Twitter has 500 million users…

While it isn’t clear whether Threads will be able to ride this wave of success and internet dominance (whether people continue using Threads after 1 year is still anyone’s guess), it really does prove that Meta, led by Zuckerberg, has cultivated a reputation for ripping off successful ideas than actually coming up with them. Like every overgrown company (i.e., monopoly), Meta defeats competition either by acquiring, or by stealing. Aside from building Facebook, it’s difficult to think of anything that Zuckerberg has built successfully from scratch. Instagram was acquired in 2012, and Whatsapp and Oculus in 2014. Zuckerberg tried hard to acquire Snapchat too, but after sensing resistance, merely copied the ephemeral ‘Stories’ feature. Reels were introduced in 2020 to combat TikTok, which couldn’t be acquired because it was owned by Chinese company ByteDance. Meta tried hard to launch Internet.Org in third-world countries but faced huge resistance, and even tried and failed at launching Libra Coin, its own crypto-based payment network (also rebranded as Diem). Even their hardware efforts were a flop, with the Portal camera that barely made a dent, the RayBan partnership that seems to have been forgotten, and the Meta smartwatch that never even saw the light of day.

Threads, however, reinforces Meta’s corporate tendency to blatantly copy winning ideas. It’s definitely being touted as the company’s latest success story, but it builds entirely on an existing microblogging platform, which was pretty much ripped off in the process. The name “Threads” isn’t new either, but its personality certainly is…

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Apple Vision Pro vs. Meta Quest Pro: The Design Perspective

Apple finally took off the veils from its much-anticipated entry into the mixed reality race, and the Internet was unsurprisingly abuzz with comments on both sides. Naturally, comparisons were made between this shiny newcomer and the long-time market leader, which is now Meta, whether you like it or not. Given their already tenuous relationship, the launch of the Apple Vision Pro only served to increase the rivalry between these frenemies. It’s definitely not hard to paint some drama between the two tech giants vying for the same mixed reality or spatial computing market, whichever buzzword you prefer to use. But is there really a direct competition between these two products, or do they have very different visions with almost nothing in common except for having to put a screen over our eyes? We take a deeper look into the Apple Vision Pro and the Meta Quest Pro to see where they differ not only in their design but also in their vision.

Designer: Apple, Meta

What is the Meta Quest Pro

Let’s start with the older of the two, one that dates back to the time when Facebook was also the name of the company. Originally created by Oculus, the Quest line of VR headsets soon bore the Meta name, though not much else has changed in its core focus and the way it works. In a nutshell, the Meta Quest Pro, along with its siblings and predecessors, falls under the category of virtual reality systems, which means it gives you a fully enclosed experience confined within virtual walls. It practically blocks off the rest of the real world while you’re wearing it, but the Quest Pro now has a “passthrough” feature that lets you see the world around you through the headset’s cameras, but the quality is definitely lower than what your eyes could naturally see.

In terms of product design, the Quest Pro doesn’t stray too far from the typical formula of consumer electronics, which is to say that there’s plenty of plastic material all around. To be fair, Meta aimed to make the Quest hardware more accessible to more people to help spread its adoption, so it naturally had to cut a few corners along the way. The choice of materials was also made to lighten the gear that might be sitting on your head for hours, but it also doesn’t remove the less-than-premium feel, nor does it completely alleviate that heft.

To its credit, the design of the Quest Pro does help make the headset feel a little less burdensome by balancing the weight between the front and back parts. While the front has most of the hardware and optics that make the Quest Pro work, the back has the battery that powers the device. Having that battery present still adds to the overall weight of the machine, but Meta opted to prioritize mobility and convenience over lightening the load.

What is the Apple Vision Pro

The Apple Vision Pro, in comparison, takes an almost completely opposite approach from the Meta Quest Pro or all other headsets in general. In typical Apple fashion, the company paid special attention to design details that make the hardware both elegant and comfortable. The Vision Pro makes use of premium materials like laminated glass and woven fabrics, as well as heavier components like aluminum alloy. It’s a device that looks elegant and fashionable; an undeniable part of Apple’s hardware family.

Apple’s answer to the battery problem is both simple and divisive. The Vision Pro simply doesn’t have a battery, at least not on the headset itself. You’d have to connect an external power source via a cable, though that battery can be shoved inside your pocket to get it out of the way. It doesn’t completely hinder mobility and even opens the doors for third-party designs to come up with other ideas on how to solve this puzzle.

The biggest difference between Apple’s and Meta’s headsets, however, is in their use and purpose. The Vision Pro is closer to being an augmented reality headset compared to the Quest Pro, blending both virtual and real worlds in a single, seamless view. The Vision Pro also has the ability to block out or at least dim everything aside from the virtual window you’re using, but that’s only a side feature rather than a core function.

VR/AR vs. Spatial Computing

At its most basic, the Meta Quest Pro is really a virtual reality headset while the Apple Vision Pro is designed for a form of mixed reality now marketed as “spatial computing.” To most people, the two are almost interchangeable, but those sometimes subtle differences set these two worlds apart, especially in how they are used. It’s certainly possible to mix and match some features and use cases, but unless they’re specifically designed to support those, the experience will be subpar.

The Meta Quest Pro, for example, is the first in its line that can be truly considered to have AR functionality thanks to its higher fidelity “passthrough” feature, allowing you to see virtual objects overlaid on top of the real world. That said, its core focus is still on virtual reality, which, by nature, closes off the rest of the world from your sight. Looking at the world through cameras is really only a stopgap measure and can be a little bit disorienting. That’s not even considering how most of the Quest ecosystems experiences happen in virtual reality, including the use of “normal” computer software, particularly ones that require using a keyboard and a mouse.

On the other hand, the Apple Vision Pro was made specifically for mixed reality, specifically spatial computing, where the real and the digital are blended seamlessly. In particular, it puts those applications, including familiar ones from macOS and iOS, in floating windows in front of you. visionOS’s special trick is to actually have the real world affect those virtual objects, from having them cast shadows to tweaking the audio to sound as if they’re bouncing off the furniture in the room. The Vision Pro can emulate the enclosed view of a VR headset by darkening everything except the virtual window you’re using, but it’s unavoidable that you’ll still see some of the real world “bleeding” through, especially in bright ambient light.

The Vision Pro’s and visionOS’s capability to blend the real and the virtual is no small feat. Not only does it enable you to use normal applications with normal computer peripherals, it also makes better use of real-world space. It lets you, for example, assign specific applications and experiences to parts of the house. Apple’s technologies also create more natural-looking interactions with people, even if your actual body parts are invisible or even absent. All these don’t come without costs, though, and it remains to be seen if people will be willing to pay that much for such a young technology.

Controls and Interaction

The Meta Quest Pro hails from a long line of VR and AR headsets, and nowhere is this more obvious than in the way you interact with virtual objects. The headset is paired with two controllers, one for each hand, which are pretty much like joysticks with buttons and motion sensors. Make no mistake, the technology has come a long way and you no longer need to have external beacons stationed elsewhere in the room just to make the system aware of your location or that of your hands. Still, holding two pieces of plastic all the time is a very far cry from how we usually manipulate things in the real world or even from the way we use computers or phones.

Apple may have acquired the holy grail of virtual computing with its more natural input method of using hand gestures without controllers or even gloves. There’s still a limited vocabulary of gestures available, but we’re almost used to that given how we have been using touch screens for the past decade or so. At the same time, however, the Vision Pro doesn’t exclude the use of more precise input instruments, including those controllers, if necessary. The fact that you can actually see the real objects makes it even easier to use any tool, which expands the Vision Pro’s uses considerably.

Philosophy and Vision

Although it’s easy to paint the Apple Vision Pro and Meta Quest Pro as two sides of the same eXtended Reality (XR) coin, the philosophies that drive their design are almost as opposed to each other as the companies themselves are. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg was even quoted to have pretty much said that while downplaying the Vision Pro’s innovations. In a nutshell, he doesn’t share Apple’s vision of the future of computing.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Zuckerberg’s vision revolves around social experiences, something that might indeed be better served by a fully virtual reality. Not only does it make out-of-this-world experiences like the Metaverse possible, it can also make inaccessible real-world places more accessible to groups of people. Meta’s marketing for the Quest Pro mostly revolves around fun and engaging experiences, content consumption, and a bit of creativity on the side.

The Apple Vision Pro, on the other hand, seems to be about empowering the individual by breaking computing free from the confines of flat and limited screens. There are, of course, features related to connecting with other people, but most of the examples have been limited to FaceTime chats more than huddling around a virtual campfire. It has already been noted repeatedly how Apple’s presentation was bereft of any mention of social media, which some have taken as a knock against Facebook. Of course, social media is now an unavoidable part of life, but it exists only as just another app in visionOS rather than as a core focus.

Ironically, the Vision Pro is perhaps even more social than the Quest Pro, at least as far as more natural connections are concerned. Instead of fun yet comical avatars, people will get to see a life-like semblance of your bust during meetings, complete with eye movements and facial expressions. And when someone needs your attention in the meatspace, the Vision Pro will project your eyes through the glass, making sure that the other person knows and feels that you’re actually paying attention to them.

Pricing

It’s hard to deny how impressive all the technologies inside the Vision Pro are, and it’s easy to understand why Apple took this long to finally let the cat out of the bag. As mentioned, however, these innovations don’t come without a cost, and in this case, it is a very literal one. Right off the bat, Apple’s inaugural spatial computing gear is priced at $3,499, making it cost twice as much as the average MacBook Pro. It might be destined to replace all your Apple devices in the long run, but it’s still a very steep price for an unproven piece of technology.

The Meta Quest Pro is, of course, just a third of that, starting at $1,000. Yes, it uses less expensive materials, but its technologies are also more common and have stood the test of time. The Quest platform has also gone through a few iterations of polish, with developers creating unique applications that play to the hardware’s strengths. That said, although the Quest Pro sounds more dependable, insider insights at Meta have painted a somewhat uncertain future for the company’s Metaverse ambitions. Apple’s announcement might then serve to light a fire under Meta’s seat and push it to pick up the pace and prove that its vision is the right one.

Final Thoughts

As expected of the Cupertino-based company, Apple turned heads when it announced the Vision Pro. It blew expectations not just because of the quality of its design but also because of the ambitious vision that Apple revealed for the next wave of computing. Right now, it may all sound novel and gimmicky, and it will take some time before the technology truly takes root and bears fruit. Spatial computing has the potential to truly revolutionize computing, but only if it also becomes more accessible to the masses.

The Vision Pro isn’t a death knell for the Meta Quest but more of a wake-up call. There will definitely be a need for an alternative to Apple’s technologies, especially for those who refused to live in that walled garden. Meta definitely has a lot of work to do to reach the bar that Apple just raised. Whether those alternatives come from Meta or it might come from other vendors, there’s no doubt that the extended reality market just burst to life with a single “One More Thing” from Apple.

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Apple Vision Pro for $999? An engineer built the Vision Pro’s eye + hand-tracking interface for the Meta Quest Pro

If every tech reviewer who got to try on the Vision Pro after Apple’s WWDC event can be considered a reliable source, the Vision Pro is absolutely ‘magical’. Almost everyone who got to try it on (even Disney’s CEO Bob Iger) has the same feeling of being simultaneously sucked in and blown away by how incredibly immersive and intuitive the tech is. The resolution is flawless, the eye-tracking is brilliant, and the overall experience has changed the minds of quite a few skeptics. There’s a downside, however… This magical experience costs a whopping $3500 USD.

For YouTuber ThrillSeeker, this downside seemed a little too rich. Ultimately, the Apple Vision Pro’s unique interface could be boiled down to three distinct features – Passthrough (the ability to see the world through your headset), Eye Tracking, and Hand Tracking… and the $999 Meta Quest Pro had all those three features. “I’ve been in VR for half a decade, and have been making videos about AR and VR for most of that time,” said the YouTuber, “I struggle to believe that Apple has somehow created something so radically superior, so transformative, that it warrants the use of the word Magical.” A lot of the Vision Pro’s magic is the result of its highly intuitive UI, which lets you interact with elements simply by looking at them and pinching your fingers. The Meta Quest Pro is capable of doing all these things too, although nobody at Meta really built them out… so ThrillSeeker decided to give things a go.

Designer: ThrillSeeker

ThrillSeeker started first by shooting a tweet to Meta’s CTO, Andrew Bosworth hoping for some leads and support, but understandably never heard from him (I assume everyone at Meta was just taking a while to recover from the Apple Keynote). Deciding to then take matters into his own hands (and eyes), he then went on to build the eye and hand-tracking system, designing a mock app drawer (the Vision OS home page) to test out his UI.

The entire interface was designed and coded within Unity, where ThrillSeeker tapped into the Quest Pro’s eye-tracking abilities and turned them into a controller of sorts. Most VR headsets ship with controllers, and these controllers use invisible lasers to point at objects, which the headset then recognizes as a cursor. ThrillSeeker simply turned the wearer’s eyesight into a laser pointer, allowing app icons to pop forward when you look at them (just like on the Vision Pro). Tapping your fingers would select/grab the icon, allowing you to manipulate it and move it around.

The pop-out 3D app icons

Even though highly preliminary, ThrillSeeker proved one thing – that Apple’s magical UI isn’t entirely inconceivable – it’s just that nobody at Meta (or Sony or HTC) ever thought of it in the first place. His demonstration proves that this eye and hand-controlled interface is absolutely possible with existing tech in a $999 Quest Pro device. ThrillSeeker is planning on making the APK for this demo available in the near future for all Meta Quest Pro users. We’ll add the link here as soon as he does!

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Apple Vision Pro Just Brilliantly Destroyed Meta’s Entire Hardware Business… And Possibly Even Its Own

I’d really hate to be Mark Zuckerberg right now. In October 2021 he pivoted to the metaverse, only to pivot to AI in November 2022. Now, Apple’s Vision Pro stole his massive lead with a product so revolutionary, it’s probably going to crush his entire hardware ambitions.

Apple just announced the Vision Pro, an entirely new revolutionary product category, with a Mixed Reality headset that champions what they call “spatial computing” – an upgrade from the personal computing abilities of the laptop and smartphone. The brilliance of this is that it singlehandedly has the potential to redefine and reinvigorate the metaverse. The tragedy is that it also simultaneously kills all of Apple’s other businesses. The Vision Pro’s technical genius deserves an entire article on its own, but for now let’s just focus on exactly how magical this new product is, and what it means for Apple as a hardware company.

One More Thing…

Just as WWDC was coming to a close, Tim Cook, with a twinkle in his eye, uttered the same words that Steve Jobs did when he unveiled Apple’s most revolutionary product – the iPhone. 16 years to that day, Cook’s reutterance of those words promises to disrupt the entire tech industry all over again. The Vision Pro is an MR headset that brings an entirely new category to Apple’s product offering. In short, it has two Apple Silicon chipsets (including an M2 chip), dozens of cameras and sensors, an iris recognition system that scans your eye for biometrics, directional audio units in the strap, two postage-stamp-sized 4K screens on the inside for immersive viewing, and a curved OLED display with a lenticular layer that lets other people see your eyes while you’re wearing the headset. That’s just the short version.

Apple’s Greatest Device Yet

The Vision Pro turns your world into a computing device. You can work, play, watch movies, view 3D content, facetime with friends/family, and access every app on the App Store through it. There’s quite literally nothing you cannot do on the Vision Pro, which makes it such an incredible device. In fact, just announcing it and its features took up nearly an hour of the WWDC live stream, highlighting exactly how important it is to Apple’s future. In Tim Cook’s version of the future, the Vision Pro replaces computing devices entirely. You don’t need laptops, phones, watches, or even VR controllers to interact with the digital world. The Vision Pro handles your laptop or desktop’s abilities, allowing you to make presentations, write emails, edit files, and do practically anything on a massive virtual canvas. Similarly, you don’t need a phone or tablet when all your phone/tablet apps are available on the Vision Pro. When you’re relaxing, the Vision Pro gives you a massive screen to watch movies and TV shows, or even view 3D content or panoramic images immersively.

How the Vision Pro Redefines Computing

The Vision Pro’s interface isn’t really an interface anymore… It’s your entire world (or as Apple calls it, VisionOS). Everything you see is a canvas for a rectangular window. You can simultaneously have your work screen, a Pinterest board, and Ted Lasso existing within your visual periphery. Each element occupies 3D real estate in your vision, and isn’t bound by a screen. You can select, layer, resize, or move elements of your world simply by using your hands, eliminating the need for a controller. You can choose to see the world around you, or immerse yourself in a digital realm with a simple turn of a knob (or a crown), while still being connected to the world around you.

How the Vision Pro Redefines Interaction

A screen on the front of the Vision Pro acts as your digital eyes (or what Apple calls EyeSight), so that when people are talking to you, they see your eyes. If you’re immersed in content, your eyes aren’t made visible on the screen, so they know not to disturb you – it’s a lot like how people know you’re not engaging with them if you’re not making eye contact. However, if they need to grab your attention while you’re in an immersive experience (like a movie), they can merely step close to you, and EyeSight kicks in. They suddenly become visible to you within your headset, and your eyes become visible to them. It’s an impressive handshake of multiple different technologies that resulted in Apple filing as many as 5000 patents for the Vision Pro device.

Meta is Royally Screwed

As impressive as Zuckerberg’s Meta Quest Pro is, it really doesn’t even hold a candle to Apple’s Vision Pro. The Apple Vision Pro is an incredibly meticulously designed product that runs on not one but TWO chipsets – an M2 chip and a new R1 chip that just handles how digital elements react with your physical world. It’s got two 4K screens on the inside with as many as 23 million pixels crammed into an area the size of a postage stamp – that’s the equivalent of 64 pixels in the space occupied by 1 pixel on the iPhone screen. The outside of the device has a screen too (a lenticular 3D one, no less), that projects your eyes so that people can make eye contact with you while you have the headset on. As far as sensors go, the Vision Pro has one LiDAR scanner, two TrueDepth cameras, two main cameras, four downward cameras, two side cameras, and two IR illuminators… just on the outside. The inside has four IR cameras and multiple invisible LED illuminators that track your eyes, letting you use them as a cursor. Your hands become the controls, allowing you to tap, pinch, and manipulate elements that your eyes look at. This entire interaction is just so complicated and nuanced, you don’t need a remote or VR controllers. Oh, did I mention, the Vision Pro uses OpticID, a new authentication system that scans your eyes, making it much more secure than TouchID and FaceID? Even Meta’s highest-end device (which is roughly 1/3rd the price of the Vision Pro) doesn’t have anywhere near as much impressive tech as the Vision Pro… and if I were Zuckerberg, I’d honestly be crying in a corner right now because in Meta’s own metaverse… they’re in second place.

An alliance with Disney

Strangely enough, the one person that shared the stage with Tim Cook was Disney CEO Bob Iger, who promised some great new partnerships between the world’s biggest tech company, and the world’s biggest entertainment company. Disney’s entertainment offerings are now going to be front and center in Apple’s Vision Pro, with a tight partnership between the two giants to make entertainment more immersive. This announcement also falls in line with Disney’s 100-year anniversary, going to show exactly how much Disney has to offer to its fans through the Vision Pro. Strangely enough, this core focus on entertainment excludes one major platform – social media. The Vision Pro doesn’t really do much to enhance how people interact with apps like Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok, which feels like a two-punch melee to Meta and Zuckerberg even more…

Apple may have shot itself in the foot too

Aside from its whopping $3499 price, the Vision Pro does something absolutely unique, in that it replaces every single other Apple device. When you’re strapped into the headset, you’re pretty much never going to look at an iPhone, MacBook, Apple Watch, iMac, or TV. Heck, you’re not even going to wear AirPods… and needless to say, that’s bad for Apple. The Vision Pro is such a strangely isolating experience that it stops you from using Apple’s other hardware devices… and that’s absolutely new. You can use your iPhone simultaneously with a MacBook, AirPods, Apple Watch, etc… but when you’re wearing the Vision Pro, every single other Apple device becomes unnecessary. Spatial computing is great for the Vision Pro, but it’s terrible for all of Apple’s other devices… and this poses an incredibly interesting threat to Apple’s hardware endeavors. Sure, if the Vision Pro takes off, Meta is absolutely, royally, wholeheartedly screwed because there’s no reason someone who wants a Vision Pro would settle for a Quest 2 or 3. However, it’ll be interesting to see if people who buy the Vision Pro ever buy a single other Apple computer like a MacBook, iPad, or Apple TV unit.

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Meta Quest 3 unveiled ahead of Apple’s anticipated MR headset announcement with promising claims

In the midst of anticipation for Apple’s long-rumored mixed reality headset, Meta has made a splash by unveiling – through Mark Zuckerberg’s official Instagram handle – the upcoming Meta Quest 3. Building upon the success of its predecessor, the Quest 2, the Quest 3 boasts a sleeker and more comfortable design, featuring a 40 percent slimmer design and a more powerful device.

Meta Quest 3 would stand apart with its rumored high-resolution mixed reality output and promise of an unparalleled visual experience. With its thinner profile and enhanced comfort, the Quest 3 will combine Meta’s highest resolution display and pancake optics, ensuring the delivered content looks better than ever before.

Designer: Meta

Under the hood, the Quest 3 is to be powered by a new Qualcomm Snapdragon chip that will likely deliver twice the graphics performance compared to its predecessor. This next-generation chipset will make sure the Quest 3 offers smooth and stunning visuals, pushing the boundaries of mixed and virtual reality to an unexplored high.

One of the most enticing aspects of the Meta Quest 3 still is its compatibility with the entire Quest 2 library. It, however, will be accompanied by an array of new titles as well. Scheduled for release this fall, the Meta Quest 3 will be available in a 128GB version priced at $499.99. An additional storage option will also be launched, but the price for it is not disclosed yet.

In addition to this exciting announcement, Meta has also made significant price adjustments for the Quest 2. Starting June 4th, the 128GB version of the Quest 2 will be priced at $299.99. Similarly, the 256GB version will see a price drop to $349.99, providing enthusiasts with the most powerful headset presently at an affordable cost.

Prepared to be astounded by jaw-dropping virtual reality experiences of Quest 3 still? You can sign up here for more information about the state-of-the-art headset or wait until Meta annual Connect event on September 27.

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Samsung XR wearable could become an industry response to Apple’s MR headset

Samsung just announced quite a number of new devices, including its usual Galaxy S flagship smartphone trio. While this is normal fare for Samsung this time of the year, it made a few choice statements that suddenly got heads turning and, to some extent, scratching. Samsung practically revealed that it is working on an “extended reality” or XR wearable device, pretty much a headset, something that it hasn’t done in half a decade. While it was mostly an announcement of intent rather than a teaser of an actual product, it name-dropped a few big names in the tech industry as its partners in this endeavor. While the fact that Samsung is again making a headset isn’t really a world-shattering revelation, the timing of all these hints seems to be a little bit too convenient not to put it in light of Apple’s own upcoming mixed reality device.

Designer: Samsung (via The Washington Post)

Samsung is really no stranger to such headsets and is probably too familiar with their problems as well. It started out with the smartphone-powered GearVR, which it worked on together with pre-Facebook Oculus back in 2015. And then there was the HMD Odyssey which was one of the few Windows Mixed Reality headsets that launched and sputtered out. In both cases, the tech giant has taken a step back along with the rest of its peers, making this announcement all the more intriguing and suspicious.

These days, there are very few notable players in the VR and AR space, with Meta (formerly known as Facebook) and HTC Vive still competing for top slots. Microsoft has pretty much forgotten about its HoloLens, and Google is being typically Google-ish about its remaining ARCore platform. Surprisingly, these are the very same companies that Samsung will be working with for its XR wearable, bringing the who’s who of Big Tech together with a single mission.

Details about the device itself are scant, but Samsung did let it out that it will be powered by a Qualcomm chipset and run an unannounced version of Android made specifically for headsets. More important than the hardware, though, Samsung’s name-dropping is meant to suggest that it is establishing a more stable ecosystem before it actually launches the product. The reason why many attempts at this niche market failed was that they were too focused on the product without an ecosystem giving it a reason to exist in the first place.

Apple isn’t going to have that problem when it launches its own MR device this spring, given how all its products pretty much live within Apple’s universe. Its rivals, however, don’t have something like it and will have to join forces to deliver something worthwhile. Of course, these companies, Apple included, still need to make a convincing argument about why you would want to wear a screen on your face. And as these same companies experienced, that’s not a particularly easy proposition to sell.

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Meta Watch V2 surfaces online in leaked photos, confirming the suspected dual-camera design

Although it was suspected that Meta had axed all plans to make their wearable around 8 months ago, new photos show that the watch’s design has now entered a more advanced stage, suggesting a fleshed-out V2 that’s probably inching closer to a finished product. Revealed by Twitter user Kuba Wojciechowski, this new iteration confirms all our previous suggestions, including a detachable module featuring a watch face on the front with a notch and a front-facing camera, and a secondary, larger camera at the back that lets people record POV videos and BeReal-style picture-in-picture content.

Image Credits: Kuba Wojciechowski

The images show a rounded-square-shaped device running a watch face, with a pretty sizeable bezel containing a notch and a front-facing camera. The watch shape feels rather odd because it’s neither square nor circular, sitting somewhere in between. I imagine designing the UI for such a device would be weird, given that you can’t really watch videos in such a rounded-square display anymore, making it hard to consume content from Meta’s social media sites at Facebook, Instagram, and its chatting app WhatsApp. There are, however, two buttons on the side of the device, although it’s tough to say what their function is at this point.

The one set of details that still remains, however, is the presence of dual cameras. The front-facing camera eats into the display, while the rear camera (slightly larger) hovers right above a bulge that contains what I assume are the heart-rate sensors. You’ve even got contact pins on the other side that I assume are for charging purposes.

There aren’t too many details about the device’s build and specs, although Kuba mentions that it isn’t running Google’s WearOS, but rather a fork of its open-source Android OS. Facebook has for long played with the idea of building their own ecosystem and app network to escape the monopolies of Apple and Google, and this could just be it. There’s also a Qualcomm chipset on the inside, although it isn’t mentioned which one, and the outer case and band are still to be revealed to the public, although we did put together our own concept just about a year ago, right before it was suspected that work on the wearable had halted indefinitely.

Earlier last year, we covered the Meta Watch too, bringing life to its speculative patent-file images through renderings. If you want to read our coverage on the band from last year, click here.

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Meta Quest Pro is an expensive gamble on the future of the metaverse

Although almost everyone still refers to it as Facebook, changing its official name to Meta shows just how much the company, or at least CEO Mark Zuckerberg, believes that the metaverse is the future not just of computing but also of social. After a few months of hype and buzz, some of the narratives around the metaverse have died down a bit. There is even news that Meta itself is taking a step back to reflect on its grand plans. That’s not to say that Meta has given up on those ambitions, though, and it is, in fact, making an even bigger gamble on that future. It has just launched a new mixed reality headset that aims to take the metaverse beyond games and entertainment, but it carries a rather high price that almost makes that dream even more unreachable for most people.

Designer: Meta

The Meta Quest Pro is the latest headset to come from the company formerly known as Facebook, and it combines two of its major designs and strategies when it comes to virtual reality. Like the Quest 2, the Quest Pro is a standalone device that doesn’t require tethering to a PC that would limit the wearer’s mobility. Like the old Oculus Rift system, however, it boasts enough power and features that enable a wider variety of experiences and, in Meta’s words, enable the metaverse.

It definitely looks refined and more streamlined than even the Meta Quest 2, so you finally won’t look ridiculous wearing one for “serious business.” It’s no longer front-heavy like almost all standalone VR headsets due to the battery being relocated to the back of the strap, creating a more balanced design. Pancake lenses also help make the entire assembly thinner while also providing an even better view of the wearer’s field of vision. More than just the design upgrade, however, the Meta Quest Pro also offers more power and flexibility in how it mixes the virtual and the real.

Full-color outward-facing cameras, for example, will let you see the real world beyond the headset, allowing Meta’s system to seamlessly merge virtual objects with physical ones or vice versa. Inward-facing cameras, on the other hand, are able to track not only where your eyes are pointing but also your expressions that can be reflected on your avatar’s face. Even the new controllers themselves have their own cameras so that they can keep track of their location and position independently and more accurately.

All of these do translate to a metaverse-oriented device that offers more flexibility and more options that go beyond the usual applications of VR and AR. In fact, Meta envisions the Quest Pro more as a productivity and work tool that can help you get your job done, no matter where you are in the physical world. All that power comes with a hefty price, though; $1,499, to be exact. That’s almost four times the price of the $399 Meta Quest 2, but it does also pack a lot more features. Still, it’s a pricey investment even for companies who might be able to afford it, especially for a metaverse future that few people can see.

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