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Apple Vision Pro launches in retail stores – here's how to sign up for a demo

 Apple Store Vision Pro Launch with Tim Cook.
Apple Store Vision Pro Launch with Tim Cook.

Apple Vision Pro is finally out in the real world, at physical Apple Stores across the US, giving most people their first opportunity to touch, feel, and experience what Apple likes to call Spatial Computing.

It felt almost odd to be standing in the rain outside of Apple's glassy Fifth Avenue flagship store on Groundhog Day and not be wearing my Apple Vision Pro. I'd barely removed the mixed reality headset in my first two days of testing the Vision Pro and the real world felt a bit flat. Until that is, Apple CEO Tim Cook opened the swinging glass doors and opened the proverbial floodgates to new and soon-to-be-new Apple Vision Pro owners.

It is something of a tradition for Cook to usher in every new product at Apple's Central Park-adjacent location but this moment was different, maybe bigger. It has been almost a decade since Apple launched a new product category (see the Apple Watch) and so expectations were high.

The crowd gathered outside was not what I'd call iPhone size – the miserable weather might have been a factor there – but there were dozens of people somewhat evenly split between media and customers.

A cluster of blue-shirted Apple employees poured out of the store, which featured the giant white outline of a Vision Pro on the storefront, and started clapping and cheering (I'd heard them practicing cheers and getting amped up from inside the store), doing their best to substitute any enthusiasm the crowd might've been lacking. This, too, is tradition and I find it almost endearing but also just a tiny bit cringe-worthy. It's just a gadget – a very expensive one – after all.

At precisely 8AM ET, Cook appeared behind the glass doors (someone had previously double-checked and triple-checked that the doors were not locked so Cook didn't have to bend down and release a latch). He swung open the door and gave a big wave.

Soon customers who had preordered the $3,499 (to start) spatial reality computer were filing into the store (many pausing to take a selfie with Cook), while I waited outside, getting drenched and wondering if the Vision Pro is waterproof (it's not).

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Apple Vision Pro store launch
Apple Vision Pro store launch

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Apple Vision Pro store launch
Apple Vision Pro store launch

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Apple Vision Pro store launch
Apple Vision Pro store launch

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Apple Vision Pro store launch
Apple Vision Pro store launch

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Apple Vision Pro store launch
Apple Vision Pro store launch

Inside the store, which sits below ground level, the floor was packed. Vision Pros were lined up on stands similar to what I'd seen at launch. Below each one was an iPad, describing the experience you were about to have. Some people were seated on wooden benches near the back of the store, wearing Vision Pro headsets and gesturing to control the interfaces.

Oddly, though, not a lot of people were trying Vision Pros, but that was probably because Tim Cook was still in the room.

The scrum around him was dense, so much so that I noticed some nervous-looking Apple employees trying to gently clear a path and give the Apple leader some air. Cook, ever the gracious southern gentleman, smiled for countless photos with fans. He even signed a few things.

I stepped forward and Cook's eyes caught mine. He smiled broadly and said hello. We shook hands and I congratulated him on a successful launch. Then I gave him my brief assessment of the product: "It's incredible." He brightened even further, "I know!" he shouted back over the din.

Apple Vision Pro store launch
Apple Vision Pro store launch

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Apple Vision Pro store launch
Apple Vision Pro store launch

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Apple Vision Pro store launch
Apple Vision Pro store launch

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Apple Vision Pro store launch
Apple Vision Pro store launch

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Apple Vision Pro store launch
Apple Vision Pro store launch

There wasn't much more to say, really, and I left him to get sucked back into the crowd while I took another look at the Vision Pro sales setup. In the meantime, customers were leaving with large Vision Pro boxes they'd pre-ordered. Thousands of the mixed reality headsets are in stores and arriving at people's homes (in the US only). This will be their first experience with Vision Pro.

The good news is, as I told someone else today, there is no learning curve. The setup is full of hand-holding and using the system generally only requires your gaze and very simple gestures.

There will be comments about the weight and getting the right, comfortable fit on your head, and some may be frustrated with the battery pack and that they have to keep Vision Pro plugged in if they want to use it for more than two hours at a time.

Still, the excitement I saw at the store this morning and in Tim Cook's eyes may be warranted. This is not your father's mixed reality.

Booking your demo

For the next few days, all demos will be first-come-first-serve in the stores. However, if you can wait until after Feb 5, you can book your in-store demo by visiting the Apple Store site, navigating to the Vision Pro section, and selecting "Book a demo." Apple will guide you to sign in with your Apple ID. You must also be at least 13 years old to go through the experience.

Demos take about 30 minutes. An Apple specialist will guide you through the setup processes, which is fairly straightforward.

You'll choose a store near you, a date, and an available time. If you wear glasses, Apple should be able to take your lenses and do a temporary measurement to give you the right lenses for the demonstration (you'll be buying your own Zeiss inserts if you buy a headset.).

After that, you can go home and figure out how to save up $3,500.

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