Apple has quietly added a virtual reality headset to its online store.
Shoppers can pick up a View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack on Apple’s online store for $30, although it’s not available in Apple’s physical retail stores. It’s the first VR product that Apple has sold in recent memory.
Yes, it’s the same View-Master that made the famous red goggles we all played with as children, providing “stereoscopic 3D” views of dinosaurs and Disney stories. Now the View-Master has been upgraded for the age of virtual reality.
The new View-Master is basically a version of Google Cardboard, the low-cost virtual reality platform developed by Apple’s arch-rival. The View-Master headset uses your phone as both its processor and its screen, using the Google Cardboard software and specs.
While most Google Cardboard headsets are nearly disposable, and made out of, well, cardboard, the View-Master is made out of sturdy plastic, and instead of using velcro or a rubberband to keep your phone in place, it features a three-clamp design that solidly locks your handset down.
Not for kids only
In my opinion, Apple chose by far the best version of Google Cardboard to sell. It’s the VR headset I own and recommend to other people who are looking to dip thier toes into immersive content.
Plus, the View-Master app has a very interesting augmented reality component. Scan a View-Master “reel” using your phone’s camera, and it can transport the user to an exotic location like space.
The View-Master is largely targeted towards children, and is made by a toy company, but I believe it’s the best VR headset for the early adopter regardless. Although Cardboard headsets are frequently distributed for free, the View-Master has significantly better build-quality and is meant to last longer than a giveaway.
There is more Google Cardboard-compatible software available for Android, but the platform still works well with iPhones. Google publishes an official Google Cardboard app. Apps like VRSE provide immersive VR video from producers such as the New York Times, for example.
Apple previously produced a piece of VR content as part of a partnership between rock band U2 and Apple Music last November.
Apple has shown significant interest in VR technology recently. CEO Tim Cook said the technology is “really cool and has some interesting applications.”