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Trying out the Apple Vision Pro will involve an epic 25-minute demo

 Apple Vision Pro.
Apple Vision Pro.

The Vision Pro headset may be one of the most exciting releases 2024 has to offer, but Apple still has its work cut out. The company is nearing the February 2 release date of the spatial computer it first revealed back at WWDC last year. And while some analysts predict it'll sell out right away, the numbers involved are a far cry from a usual Apple product launch.

Supply chain rumors claim Apple will only have up to 80,000 Vision Pro headsets at launch with plans to ship just half a million in 2024. If you're interested in the $3,500 device, pre-orders open on Friday. But for a company used to producing new iPhones, iPads and MacBooks in the millions ready for a global launch rollout, Vision Pro will be a markedly slow start.

In fact, according to Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, even the biggest Apple retail stores will only have up to 12 demo units available at any one time. And trying one out will involve a highly co-ordinated process lasting nearly half an hour.

To start with, an Apple store employee will scan a customer's face (a process akin to setting up Face ID) before selecting the correct light seal, band size and foam cushion for the headset. Anyone wearing glasses will also have their lenses scanned so Apple can select the right Vision Pro lens that plays nice with their prescription.

The customer will be able to hold the headset for a bit, before following instructions on how to put it on and adjust the settings with, Gurman says, the help of "various tracking and tapping exercises". These include looking at dot patterns and different levels of brightness.

Apple Vision Pro: What the demo shows

An Apple Vision Pro user interacting with the spacial operating system in their living room.
An Apple Vision Pro user interacting with the spacial operating system in their living room.

Once the setup is completed and the headset is comfortably placed, the fun begins. According to Gurman, the entire experience will last between 20 and 25 minutes and involve viewing photos and videos, using the Vision Pro like a MacBook with productivity tools and then finally checking out some of the third-party apps available for the device.

Whether or not the photos and videos will change up over time is a mystery, but two of the scenarios Bloomberg mentions is a 3D photo of a child hitting a piñata and a "spatial video" (the type you'll be able to capture with your iPhone 15 Pro) of a birthday party.

On the computing side, you can expect to scroll through pages in Safari as well as moving several app windows around to organise a virtual workstation as you please. One thing you won't be able to do is use the device's virtual keyboard because, right now, it appears that feature needs some considerable fine-tuning.

Lastly, there will be the chance to watch some immersive video clips in the "Cinema Environments" feature that Apple showed off during the headset's reveal. By turning the Vision Pro’s dial, you can, in Apple's words, "turn your room into a personal movie theater” or some other locale that enhances what you're watching. For example, viewing a documentary about the ocean in a serene aquatic environment.

Apple Vision Pro: When can I try one?

Apple Vision Pro gesture control
Apple Vision Pro gesture control

Given the relatively small number of devices available and the stratospheric levels of hype and interest around Apple's new gadget, you're going to have to get in line.

Apple will be offering in-store demos but, of course, you'll have to sign up and get on the list first.

“Starting at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, February 2, we invite you to sign up for a demo of Apple Vision Pro at your local Apple Store,” Apple writes. "Demo slots will be available Friday through the weekend on a first‑come, first‑served basis,” Apple says.

Demo slots will be available Friday through the weekend on a first‑come, first‑served basis.

The chance to actually try before you buy may go a long way into persuading those who are on the fence to drop $3,500 on the company's visionary new device. It's fair to say Apple is positioning the Vision Pro not just as an add-on or a sideshow to its current product portfolio, but a whole new way of computing. The Vision Pro will allow you to stream movies, play games, browse the internet, run applications and socialize all from behind the headset’s two OLEDs.

The company has been quiet on key Vision Pro features, including the RAM and storage options available for the headset. We do know the base model will have 256GB of onboard storage, and it's widely though that you'll be able to add up to 1TB of storage if you're willing to pay more. Apple’s software development applications suggest the headset features 16GB of RAM.

The Vision Pro will only be available in the U.S. initially. Availability in other countries will follow, though Apple hasn't provided any details about when and where.

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