Vision Pro vs HoloLens

Johnny Reid
Nov 20, 2023

Apple Vision Pro is finally here!

Apple Vision Pro vs Microsoft HoloLens 2

Vision Pro vs HoloLens 2

November 2023 Vision Pro Release Update

Apple is said to be gearing up for the launch of its Vision Pro mixed-reality headset in March, as reported by Mark Gurman of Bloomberg. Initial plans had set January 2024 as the release target, but Apple is currently in the process of finalizing distribution strategies and conducting essential device testing.

During the initial announcement in June, Apple had indicated a target release date for the $3,499 Vision Pro in early 2024. In this regard, Apple's timeline for release remains consistent with its earlier projection. Given Apple's historical pattern of hosting its spring event in March, it's likely that the company will leverage this occasion to showcase the Vision Pro.

June 2023 WWDC Update

When comparing the Apple Vision Pro and the HoloLens 2, both devices offer significant advancements in augmented reality technology, but they differ in terms of design, features, and ecosystem integration.

Design: The Apple Vision Pro features an aluminum frame with curved glass and a visor extending from the display to the wearer's head. It resembles ski goggles and appears to be designed primarily for indoor use. On the other hand, the HoloLens 2 is better fit for outdoor or in the field use, with a visor-like form factor that allows for a mixed reality experience. The HoloLens 2 is designed to be comfortably worn for extended periods, with an emphasis on ergonomics.

Features: The Apple Vision Pro places a strong focus on augmented reality, with spatial computing being a central theme. It offers a way to interact with computing UI through spatial gestures, similar to a mouse or trackpad. The headset incorporates features such as physical image capture buttons, a digital crown for adjustments, and built-in audio pods for spatial audio. It runs on Apple's M2 and R1 chip and utilizes micro-OLED displays with an impressive pixel density. The Vision Pro also introduces EyeSight, which uses a front-facing display to create an authentic representation of the user's eyes.

The HoloLens 2 is known for its mixed reality capabilities. It provides users with a seamless blend of virtual and augmented reality, allowing them to interact with digital content while maintaining awareness of their physical surroundings. The HoloLens 2 features advanced hand and eye tracking, enabling more natural and intuitive interactions with virtual objects. It also boasts a wide field of view, improved resolution, and comfortable fit, making it suitable for various applications, including enterprise use cases.

Ecosystem Integration: The Apple Vision Pro is powered by VisionOS, a dedicated operating system designed specifically for spatial computing. While it is built on the same framework as iOS and iPadOS, it introduces new educational features and offers compatibility with existing iOS apps through porting. Apple also plans to launch a dedicated App Store for the Vision Pro, ensuring a curated ecosystem for AR applications and experiences.

The HoloLens 2 runs on Microsoft's Windows Mixed Reality platform and integrates with Windows 10 and the broader Microsoft ecosystem. It offers compatibility with a wide range of Windows applications and services, allowing for seamless integration into enterprise workflows. Microsoft has also invested in developing tools and frameworks for developers to create immersive and interactive experiences on the HoloLens 2.

HoloLens 2 does not rely on a tightly enclosed design and, therefore, do not rest directly on the face. The device is lightweight enough to hang from the headband, and as a true AR headset, it doesn't require blocking out the real world from the user's peripheral view. Instead, it seamlessly integrates with the surroundings, allowing users to perceive both the augmented and real world simultaneously.

It is important to note that for individuals who experience claustrophobia or discomfort, the prospect of having their upper face enclosed within a VR headset may not be appealing. Moreover, the visibility of the display edges in the user's peripheral vision may also pose challenges in terms of comfort and immersion.

In summary, while both the Apple Vision Pro and the HoloLens 2 offer significant advancements in AR technology, they differ in design, features, and ecosystem integration. The Vision Pro focuses more on augmented reality and spatial computing, with an emphasis on user interaction and a dedicated ecosystem, while the HoloLens 2 provides a mixed reality experience with advanced tracking capabilities and integration with the Microsoft ecosystem.

Device Market Overview

Meta and Oculus are focused on the Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) metaverse and fully immersing users’ into the digital world. Apple and Microsoft are not as interested… 

Their focus seems to be in conquering the enterprise level mixed reality head-mounted display (HMD) market–and for good reason. Microsoft sold roughly 200k Hololens 2 units in 2021, with over half of those going to the United States Military. The practical applications for mixed reality are endless. 

Various reports from trusted sources state that Apple has not started prototype testing for its "AR glasses". The report says that P2 prototype testing was expected in the first quarter of 2021. However, it isn't clear how much credence we should give this report. The device that had been set for a 2021 announcement was rumored to be AR Glasses like the Ray-Ban Stories. The device that will likely be announced by Apple later in 2022 will be a different one altogether – a mixed reality headset.

consumer mixed reality experience overlay

Microsoft vs Apple

Microsoft HoloLens 2 and the rumored Apple Reality Pro headset are both advanced mixed reality headsets that offer users an immersive and interactive experience. However, there are some differences between the two devices. The HoloLens 2 is a standalone device that does not require any external components to function, while the Apple Reality Pro headset is rumored to require an external processing unit. This may impact the mobility of the device and limit its use in certain scenarios. Additionally, the HoloLens 2 is aimed primarily at enterprise customers and has been used in industries such as manufacturing and healthcare, while the Apple Reality Pro headset is expected to be targeted more towards the consumer market.

Another key difference between the two devices is their design. The HoloLens 2 has a bulky, industrial look that is more reminiscent of a piece of machinery than a consumer device. In contrast, the Apple Reality Pro headset is expected to have a sleeker, more stylish design that is in line with Apple's aesthetic. This may make the Apple device more appealing to a broader range of consumers who are interested in AR technology but may be put off by the HoloLens 2's appearance.

Finally, there may be differences in the user interface and features offered by the two devices. The HoloLens 2 has a range of built-in sensors and can recognize hand gestures and voice commands, while the Apple Reality Pro headset is rumored to have a high-resolution display and advanced eye-tracking technology. It is not yet clear how these features will compare in terms of functionality and ease of use, but they may impact which device is more suitable for specific use cases.

How will it measure up to Microsoft’s HoloLens 2?

Though Apple’s mixed reality headset has reportedly been postponed to the end of 2022 for announcement and preorders and will most likely start to ship units out in Q1 of 2023, rumors about the new headset show it has the potential to build on the foundation Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 has set.

It could weigh less than 150 grams, according to a research note from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. That would make it much lighter than many other headsets on the market, including the Oculus Quest 2 and Microsoft's HoloLens 2. 

The new Apple MR headset could cost as much as $3,000–a prohibitive price for most consumer markets–which aligns with a headset that targets industrial markets, which are currently owned by Microsoft and it’s Hololens 2. The device looks to use a significant amount of power and will require a 96W USB-C power adapter, similar to current Macbook Pro models. This is intriguing as it compares to the power needed for Microsoft’s Hololens 2, the direct competitor to Apple’s new MR HMD. 

Apple Glass will feature eye-tracking technology, various advanced sensors, and more than a dozen cameras to both track your hand movements and capture footage. The device may also feature an 8K “innovative three-display configuration” combining one AMOLED panel and two Micro OLED displays. If this turns out to be true, it resembles the Varjo XR-3 and differs significantly from its main competitor, the Hololens 2’s, optical see-through holographic lenses. 

The idea is that by tracking the eye movement, the headset will be able to render the user’s environment in increased fidelity. This means that resources like processing power can be channeled more efficiently instead of spread out to areas that aren't being used. 

In a patent titled “Tunable and foveated lens systems” granted on January 11th, 2022 the manufacturer may implement technology in Apple Glass to adjust to correct the wearer’s vision. This system uses a stack of lenses for each eye, allowing for vision correction. The stack could include a liquid crystal adjustable lens, an Alvarez lens or a fluid filled lens. Multiple layers (3 to 6 orientations) of electrodes will allow the lens to adjust light precisely depending on what vision corrections are needed.

apple glass mr hmd rendering

Apple's Mixed Reality HMD Is Facing Further Production Delays...

Apple is doing what they do best–they’re analyzing the market for the best timing of their product launch. Waiting stands to benefit Apple in another way: as 5G networks continue to develop, faster speeds and lower latency will provide a better environment to support AR, VR, and MR. As of now it is still up in the air regarding Apple and their extended reality devices. Will they release their Mixed Reality headset on time? With recent reports citing more production delays; looking like a middle to late 2024 release is more likely.